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Equine Info Exchange - Steeplechase

Steeplechase racing is a thrilling and demanding equestrian sport that combines the speed and excitement of horse racing with the challenge of jumping over obstacles. It's a spectacle that has captivated audiences for centuries, and it remains a popular event around the world.

The name "steeplechase" is derived from the early races in which the course was marked by church steeples, with horses jumping over fences and ditches along the way. Today, steeplechase courses are typically more standardized, with fences and ditches placed at regular intervals to test the horses' stamina, balance, and jumping ability.

Steeplechase races are typically run over distances of 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) or more, and they can feature a variety of obstacles, including:

  • Water jumps: These are ditches filled with water that horses must jump. The depth and width of the water jumps can vary depending on the course.
  • Brush fences: These are fences made of brushwood or other natural materials. They are designed to test the horses' ability to navigate obstacles that are both high and wide.
  • Log fences: These are fences made of logs or poles. They are often placed in pairs, with a gap between them that the horses must jump over.
  • Rail fences: These are fences made of rails or planks. They are typically the shortest and easiest obstacles to jump.

In addition to the obstacles, steeplechase races also feature a variety of hazards, such as uneven terrain, loose gravel, and sudden changes in direction. These hazards can further challenge the horses and jockeys, making it a demanding and unpredictable sport.

Steeplechase racing is a sport of great skill and courage, and it requires both horses and jockeys to be in excellent physical condition. The sport's popularity stems from its combination of thrilling action, unpredictable outcomes, and the inherent drama of horses and riders overcoming difficult obstacles.

Here are some of the most popular steeplechase racing events in the world:

  • The Grand National: This iconic race is held annually at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, England, and is considered to be the most prestigious steeplechase in the world. It is a grueling test of stamina and jumping ability, with 30 fences over a distance of 4 miles and 514 yards (7,108 meters).
  • The Cheltenham Festival: This four-day festival, held annually in March at Cheltenham Racecourse in Cheltenham, England, is the pinnacle of the National Hunt season in the United Kingdom. It features a number of Grade 1 steeplechase races, including the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the Queen Mother Champion Chase, and the Ryanair Chase.
  • The Nakayama Grand Jump: This race is held annually at Nakayama Racecourse in Funabashi, Japan, and is the most prestigious steeplechase in Japan. It is a test of stamina and jumping ability, with 23 fences over a distance of 3 miles and 492 yards (5,700 meters).
  • The Maryland Hunt Cup: This race is held annually in April at the Glyndon Course in Glyndon, Maryland, and is the oldest and most prestigious steeplechase race in the United States. It is a test of stamina and jumping ability, with 22 fences over a distance of 4 miles and 1/2 mile (6.5 kilometers).
  • The Grand Steeplechase de Paris: This race is held annually at Longchamp Racecourse in Paris, France, and is the most prestigious steeplechase race in France. It is a test of stamina and jumping ability, with 33 fences over a distance of 3 miles and 2 furlongs (5,226 meters).

Horse Racing - Steeplechase

Grand National 2021: Cloth Cap Favorite for Aintree

Jockey Tom Scudamore has said Cloth Cap is a worthy favorite of the Grand National at Aintree next month.

The extremely brilliant and impressive Newbury and Kelso victor, trained by Jonjo O'Neill in Gloucestershire, is as low as 4-1 for the 10 April big horse race.

Victory for Cloth Cap at the event next month would be a record fourth success in the competition for owner Trevor Hemmings.

According to 38-year-old Scudamore, it is a lovely privileged position to be on the favorite for the April Grand National at Aintree.

It is worthy of note that a total of 77 horses are left, after the most recent National entry stage, with the French duo of Easy land and Ajas the notable absentees. About 40 runners are expected to line up on the day, with the lowest-rated horses pruned out.

Cloth Cap was given 10st 5lb when the weights for the handicap were revealed in February, but the nine-year-old horse has since won a National Hunt Racecourse in Kelso, and his National rating is about 14lb lower than his present official mark.

Scudamore said, "He's been a tremendous ride who's going from strength to strength and is a worthy favorite”.

"It's up to the bookmakers to decide what is a fair price and what isn't but I'm hoping that come that Saturday evening, he'll be looking like he was a massive price."

It is worthy to note that Scudamore’s grandfather Michael landed the race back in the year 1959 on Oxo The owner of Preston North End FC, Hemmings, has in the past, won the National, riding with Hedgehunter in 2005, with Ballabriggsin 2011, and Many Clouds in 2015, with their NAP for today is proving to be tempting for the punters recently.

Irish-bred Thoroughbred racehorse, Tiger Roll, is the 4-1 favorite and was the shortest-priced victor for 100 years when claiming a second victory in the last running in 2019.

With the 2-time victor absent this year, Cloth Cap is the same odds for the contest next month, which was called off in 2020 and is set to take place in April this year without spectators because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

AJ O'Neill, assistant trainer to his father said, "He's in great form at home and the whole team is very excited, "He's probably entitled to be favorite."

Scudamore also suggests the home side has to buckle up after Irish-trained runners won a total of 23 races at the Cheltenham Festival in March, with just five races for the Great Britain squad. He said, "We well and truly had our backsides tanned and it's up to us to go out and change it.”

"Last week was a lesson to everybody that we have a lot of catching up to do it. It's deeds that matter and we've all got to pull our socks up."

The Irish dominance has been attributed to improved prize money, regular and appropriate race programming, and heavy investment by the owner.

Earlier in the week, Irish handicap trainer, Andrew Shaw, likened horses that are visiting, to English Premier League teams facing Championship clubs.

The 2021 Grand National is billed for April 10, and it’s the 173rd annual running of the Grand National horse race at Aintree Racecourse near the Merseyside City of Liverpool, England.

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Longest Distance Races for Cheltenham Festival 2021!

On the 16 March, a quiet Cheltenham Festival is on the cards, but just because the government is still hesitant to allow mass ticket sales despite the mass roll out of COVID-19 vaccines. That said, ITV and other channels following the action live will still use the world famous ‘cheers’ as a sound over when the first race begins.

That first race will be the Supreme Novices’ hurdle 2-mile race at 1.20pm on 16 March. Currently, there are 11 confirmed horses in the race with the bookies putting Irascible at 20-1 with some odds as high as 40-1 while the clear favourite is Appreciate It at 11-9, 5-5 and 6-4. Metier is also a good bet for this race at 5-1 and 9-2. The first race is always the toughest to predict!

Then those that are looking to get their money down on the 3-mile Chase’s, if you are an expert at spotting the long-distance racers and jockeys that is, below we look at the 3-mile 6 furlong races and how the favourites are fairing up with their current odds!

Longest Race of the First Day

The National Hunt Chase is the race of day 1 with 3 miles and 6 furlongs, which cuts pretty close to the Champion Hurdle earlier in the day with the same distance and a single furlong. Royale Pagaille is favourite to win the National Hunt Chase with 11-8, 6-4, and 5-4 the current odds touted.

However, Galvin is a horse to look out for as second favourite and has some great odds that spill over into free bet zones if you are just signing up to an online bookies for a free bet. 7-2, 3-1, and 10-3 are the current odds for Ferguson’s horse!

Longest Race of Day 2

The Cross Country Chase at 3.40pm will be a matter of pace, speed, and stamina with 3 mils and 6 furlongs much like the National Hunt Chase. Easyland, owned by John McManus and trained by the much-respected Cottin is the clear favourite. Short odds of 2-1, 11-10, and as low a 1-1 are being offered by top sports books.

Bonus bet opportunities are certainly in the making for this race, and there is why. If you are looking for free bets this year on the Cross Country Chase, then Shady Operator is a good option. This horse is also owned by John McManus but trained by Bolger in the same table as Cottin. It is a great race for McManus as 2 horses from the same stable but with different trainers are competing in the same race and both are favourites. It could be worth an ‘each way’ bet!

Longest Races of Day 3

On day 3 the Pertemps Final, Stayer’s Hurdle (A tough one), and Kim Muir Challenge Cup mark the 3-mile races for the day, while Day 1 and Day 2 only have 2 races covering the same distance.

An interesting Day 3 starts with the Pertemps Final as the first 3-mile stint and once again John McManus has a horse competing—Champagne Platinum which is almost neck-a-neck with Imperial Alcazar for the favourite while The Bosses Oscar is close. All 3 horses matchup with 6-1 odds at some bookies like Paddy Power and William Hill while 7-1 and 13-2 are also possibilities. This is going to be the most exciting long-distance race of the day by far!

Longest Race Day 4

The final day of the Cheltenham Festival is marked with another 3 long distance 3 milers. The Foxhunter Steeple Chase is the one that stands out as this is surely a matchup between ‘Billaway’ and ‘Bob and Co’. It will certainly be a wild event with both horses close in the eyes of the bookies. Billaway is the slight favourite here with 5-1, 11-4, 5-2, and 3-1 across the major bookmakers, while Bob and Co is 9-2, 5-1, 4-1, and 9-2. Yet, It Came to Pass with 12-1 and 10-1 odds is certainly worth a punt!

Find out more about the races and how to bet in the 2021 Cheltenham Festival guide giving you info on the races, the racecourse, and how to bet!

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The New Challengers and Pretenders to Al Boum Photo's Cheltenham Gold Cup Crown

As steeplechasers go, Al Boum Photo already has his place in history as a past multiple winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. One of the great things about jumps horse racing, however, is that new challengers emerge each and every season.

It's not a case of one campaign and done like with so many American Flat thoroughbreds who run on the dirt. Year after year, horses return to Cheltenham for the premier National Hunt Festival held over four days in March.

Al Boum Photo faces fresh faces in the blue riband event of the Festival, so it's well worth knowing who the 3.50 favorite has to worry about. These are some of the pretenders to his Cheltenham crown.

A Plus Tard

The main danger, according to the latest Gold Cup odds available with Irish bookmakers Paddy Power, is A Plus Tard at 7.00. Unexposed as a stayer, this horse owned by Cheveley Park Stud is a previous Festival winner two seasons ago when he routed the opposition in a Listed handicap.

A Plus Tard took his form to new heights when showing superb stamina to overhaul subsequent Irish Gold Cup hero Kemboy in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas. He comes into Cheltenham fresh and could give trainer Henry De Bromhead his first-ever win in the Festival feature.

Royale Pagaille

Anyone who has followed recent British jumps racing results will tell you no horse has been so progressive this winter as Royale Pagaille. Bought out of France by Venetia Williams, who trains him for Rich and Susannah Ricci, this horse started the season as a maiden steeplechaser.

Royale Pagaille has improved out of all recognition in winning a race for novices at Haydock, then an open handicap at Kempton and later making an effortless step up into Grade 2 company. His wide-margin romp in the Peter Marsh Chase punched his ticket to Cheltenham.

It's not completely impossible for a novice to win the Gold Cup either. Only six years ago, Coneygree managed to do just that in 2015, so that is what Royale Pagaille tries to emulate at the Festival. Champ


The winner of last year's RSA Chase, Champ, showed real stamina to get up and win that race from an unpromising position turning for home. He stayed on so well that the Gold Cup looks tailor-made for him and his powerful connections of owner JP McManus and trainer Nicky Henderson.

Champ is very light on steeplechase experience, so the only question mark is whether his jumping will stand up to the test. Henderson knows what it takes to win the Gold Cup, though, after saddling Long Run and Bobs Worth to Cheltenham triumphs.


Heading into the unknown stamina wise is Frodon for trainer Paul Nicholls. His partnership with female jockey Bryony Frost has made many headlines in recent years, not least because of their gutsy all-the-way win in the King George VI Chase at Kempton over Christmas.

A past winner of the Cotswold Chase and Ryanair Chase, Frodon has a fabulous record around Cheltenham. Frost likes to control races from the front with him, and the pair have won many casual fans of horse racing over with their brave performances.

Photo credit for "Cheltenham Gold Cup" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Carine06.

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Two Best Cheltenham Gold Cup Winners

by CL Cimino

The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the most prestigious of all National Hunt events. A lot of Britishers come to attend this racing event every year at Cheltenham Racecourse. While a lot of people follow the Cheltenham latest news to keep themselves abreast of all the happenings.

1- Arkle

Arkle is one of the biggest names in the horse racing world. He won many prestigious races in his career but his Cheltenham Gold Cup achievements truly immortalized his name. Timeform has given him the rating of 212 which is the highest ever awarded to a steeplechaser.

When Arkle first entered the Gold Cup in 1964, he was not a well-known racehorse. In fact, he was defeated at Newbury by Mill House in the 1963 Hennessy Gold Cup, and so everyone’s eyes were on the Fulke Walwyn trained racehorse who was regarded as a top favorite to win the race. However, Arkle was determined to win this time as he easily got the better of Mill House by five lengths.

From then on, Arkle started as the favorite for all the races he competed in. The great horse looked unstoppable in the next year’s Gold Cup as he dominated the whole race and emerged victorious by 20 lengths. If this victory was surprising for everyone, then it was nothing compared to the shock and disbelief for all when Arkle registered his third victory in the most emphatic manner. He made the entire race about himself only and won by an unbelievable 30 lengths.

2- Best Mate

Best Mate was universally liked and praised who carved a big name for himself in horse racing. He achieved the incredible feat of winning three back-to-back Gold Cups and included himself in the ranks of Golden Miller, Arkle and Cottage Rake.

He missed the 2001 edition of the race due to an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. He registered his first victory in 2004 when Looks Like Trouble was the favorite competitor. The next year, he performed the same feat and surprised everyone at Cheltenham.

The 2004 Cheltenham Gold Cup was a big occasion for Best Mate as he had a great opportunity to match Arkle’ record. The Henrietta Knight trained horse started brilliantly but his prospects of victory slimmed in the final stages as Harbour Pilot and Sir Rembrandt got very close to him. However, he held on to claim victory by the slightest of margins.

Best Mate was set to compete in the 2005 Gold Cup, but the great horse burst a blood vessel on the gallops just days before the race and hence he got ruled out. Remarkably, he never fell at a fence and won 14 of the 22 races he competed in. Besides the Gold Cup, he also won Peterborough Chase, King George VI Chase, and Ericsson Chase.

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Most Memorable Grand National Moments

by CL Cimino

The 2020 Grand National was a hugely anticipated event in the United Kingdom. However, the famous racing event got canceled, like all other major sports events in the world, due to the Coronavirus pandemic. For online horse betting fans who had been expecting some real fun and enjoyment, the cancellation of the Grand National was a big blow. But for the good of all people, it was a necessary action.

1- Devon Loch’s defeat on the brink of victory

E.S.B. won the 1956 edition of the race but he didn’t become the reason for the incredible popularity of this Grand National. Instead, it was Devon Loch who failed from the brink of victory and hence gained great infamy in the history of the competition. To do a Devon Loch even became a metaphor to describe a sudden failure.

Devon Loch was performing brilliantly on the racing day and everybody was expecting an easy victory for him. His chances of victory further improved when two top contenders Must and Early Mist fell early in the race. There looked no question of defeat for Devon Loch on the final stretch as he had been leading by a great margin. However, he did something that shocked everyone at Aintree Racecourse that day. Suddenly and inexplicably, he belly-flopped to the turf and thus gave E.S.B. the chance to claim victory.

Jockey Dick Francis could not believe this shocking turn of events and cried bitterly. No one could provide a good explanation for this unexpected behavior of an amazing horse, though a lot of people gave their theories on the matter.

2- Foinavon’s miracle win

People would find it very hard to believe if you tell them that slowness can also be a virtue for a racehorse competing in one of the most prestigious races like the Grand National. However, this proved to be true in the 1967 Grand National when Foinavon won the race because he happened to be the slowest of all that day.

No one was slightly excited about the prospects of Foinavon when the racehorse began the race at odds of 100/1. Three jockeys had turned down the offer to ride Foinavon before John Buckingham agreed to be the jockey.

The chances of the Cyril Watkins owned horse increased dramatically when something very unexpected happened during the race. A horse named Popham Down caused a huge pile-up at the 23rd fence and almost the whole race came to a standstill. Foinavon was so far behind the others that he remained unaffected and avoided the chaos. It didn’t take long for him to establish an unassailable lead in the race. Many horses gave chase but by then the race had slipped from their hands. Foinavon easily won the 1967 Grand National.

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Can Tiger Roll Win A Third Grand National?

Tiger Roll etched his place in history as one of the finest horses to grace jumps racing after winning the Grand National for the second year in a row. The bay gelding produced an outstanding performance at Aintree to beat out his nearest rival Magic of Light to claim the victory by two-and-three-quarter lengths.

Gordon Elliott’s charge was not troubled in the contest as Davy Russell once again timed his surge to perfection. Whereas the rest of the field faded down the stretch, Tiger Roll peaked at the right moment to pull away to cross the line without the drama of 2018 to win the Randox Health Grand National. The nine-year-old became the first horse since the legendary Red Rum to win the event in back-to-back seasons. Elliott and his owners are now faced with a huge decision about his future.

Not even Red Rum managed to achieve three wins on the bounce, although he still does hold the record for most triumphs at the National. Tiger Roll could join Ginger McCain’s charge on three wins should he compete in the event next term.

He has age on his side, while a victory could even see him eclipse the legendary horse as the greatest competitor in the history of the National. The nine-year-old is backed in the early Betway odds at 8/1 to achieve the feat, and should he remain healthy, there is no reason that he could not at least compete for the crown once more.

Red Rum’s First Aintree Failure

There are lessons for Tiger Roll and Elliott to heed given the last time a horse tried to win three races on the bounce. Red Rum won the 1973 Grand National with an outstanding performance, beating out Crisp with a surge down the stretch after it appeared as though the Australian thoroughbred was going to romp to a comfortable victory. He returned the following season with a burgeoning reputation, and his duel with Scout was expected to go down to the wire. However, Red Rum got the better of his rivals, including L’Escargot, who did provide a threat during the contest.

McCain’s charge had the kick when it mattered most to pull away from the field to clinch the win. Red Rum returned in 1975 at the age of 10, having also won the Scottish National after his victory at Aintree. He was considered the favourite for the contest ahead of L’Escargot, but on this occasion, he lost out to his rival, who finished 15 lengths ahead of Red Rum. The bay gelding was carrying more weight than his opponents, carrying 12 stone for the event due to his superior quality.

It proved to be decisive as L’Escargot benefited down the stretch, carrying a lighter load to claim his maiden triumph. Red Rum finished second again in 1976 before notching his third crown in 1977 at 11st 8lb, producing a storming ride to finish 25 lengths ahead of second-place Churchtown Boy. So, there are warning signs for Tiger Roll and his team to learn from if attempting a third successive win.

Tiger Roll’s Challenge

Elliott’s charge has passed every test that has been thrown at him during his career. He has taken delight at being challenged on the major stage. Elliott’s charge has won four times at Cheltenham Festival, including back-to-back victories in the Cross Country Chase. In his last appearance at the Cross Country Chase, he hammered the rest of the field to canter to the win by 25 lengths. Tiger Roll’s owners have already claimed that their charge will be entered into the race once again, dispelling the notion of entering him into the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Keeping the bay gelding in a similar pattern to the last two years will be crucial in an attempt to win a third Grand National. He has proven to be an adaptable horse, winning races of different lengths at different racecourses around the United Kingdom and Ireland and at different weights. Tiger Roll would not be deterred by the prospect of adding further weight to his build.

The presence of Anibale Fly helped his cause in the 2019 National as he weighed five pounds less than the French-bred horse. In 2020, he is surely likely to be the top candidate in the handicap and will, therefore, be forced into the heavier weight bracket, although there could be other challengers to emerge, especially from the English yards. It would be another test for Elliott’s charge, although he has already proved that he can meet any test that comes his way.

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