National Hunt races involve jumping over obstacles such as fences, hurdles and water ditches and are held during the National Hunt Season of mid-October to the end of April when the ground is softer and better for jumping.
Many of the most successful National Hunt horses are bred and trained in Ireland where National Hunt racing originated, with many horses competing in informal point-to-point racing to gain experience before competition in regulated National Hunt races.
Most horses competition in National Hunt races are Thoroughbreds, although horses are not required to be pedigreed, and national hunt horses are most usually geldings with no breeding value.
National Hunt Races are categorised as follows:
Steeplechase or Chase Races
Steeplechase (or Chase) races are run over 2-4½ miles with fixed fences at least 4½ ft high.
Hurdle Races are run over 2-3½ miles with smaller, less rigid hurdles of at least 3½ ft high that easily collapse.
National Hunt Flat Races
National Hunt flat races are for horses that have not yet competed in flat racing or over obstacles. National Hunt flat races are held under National Hunt rules and designed to give inexperienced horses the experience of racing without any jumps. These races are run over 2-2½ miles and are known as Bumper races.
Hunter Chase Races
Hunter Chase races are held for amateur riders and horses involved with hunting.