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There are two types of racing in Britain and Ireland: Flat and National Hunt. Point-to-point racing involves horses running in chases over fences ridden by amateur jockeys. Some horses graduate from points into the jumps races that make up the National Hunt season.
The term is derived from hunting, the activity in which horses run over long distances and jump obstacles. Horses are bred for flat or jumps racing but some dual-purpose horses can be competitive in both types of race. Generally National Hunt races are run over longer distances than flat races and they involve jumping hurdles and fences.
In the past the National Hunt season ran from about August to May and there was no summer jumping. The season now runs from the start of May to the end of the following April, so there isn’t really a break.
Jumps racing is run over a variety of course and races are classified by grade and race conditions. Horses can only jump obstacles in a race from the age of three and these are known as juvenile hurdlers. Older horses tend to run in chases, jumping fences which are similar in design to the obstacles in point-to-point races.
The Cheltenham Festival is the most important and prestigious meeting in National Hunt racing, and all the major championship races over hurdles and fences take place at the four day meeting in March. The Champion Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup are the respective championship races for hurdlers and chasers.
Only Dawn Run has won both championship races in the two major National Hunt disciplines. The most famous jumps race is the Aintree Grand National run each April.
Only one horse has won the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National in the same season – Golden Miller, who was successful in both in 1934.