Scottish National Hunt Racing

England and Ireland tend to dominate the headlines in terms of National Hunt racing. However, Scottish National Hunt racing has a long and rich history – with events like the Scottish Grand National dating all the way back to 1867. National Hunt racing in Scotland is also hugely popular, with as many as 17,000 spectators attending a single race meeting such as the Scottish Grand National Festival Saturday.

Two racecourses in Scotland – Ayr Racecourse and the Kelso Racecourse – currently host graded National Hunt races.

Each year in February, the Kelso Racecourse hosts the Premier Kelso Novices’ Hurdle – a Grade 2 race over 2 miles, 2 furlongs, for horses four years and older.

In April, Ayr Racecourse hosts two Grade 2 races – the Future Champion Novice’s Chase and the Scottish Champion Hurdle – as part of the Scottish Grand National Festival. The Future Champion Novice’s Chase is run over 2 miles, 4 furlongs, by horses five years and older. The Scottish Champion Hurdle is run over 2 miles, by horses four years and older.

The Scottish Grand National itself – a chase run over 4 miles, 1 furlong – is a National Hunt Grade 3 race.

Format of National Hunt Races

National Hunt races – as opposed to flat races – include fence or hurdle jumps. Chase races are run over distances between 2 and 4½ miles, with fences at a minimum height of 4½ feet. Hurdling races occur over distances between 2 and 3½ miles, and include hurdles at a minimum height of 3½ feet. With these obstacles taken on at high speed, events like the Scottish Grand National offer unparalleled excitement and spectacle.

Another characteristic of Scottish National Hunt racing is that many events are limited to horses older than four or five years. In the early days of National Hunt racing, most races were contested only by thoroughbreds. In modern times, many National Hunt racing champions have mixed ancestry.

Visit our Scottish Grand National odds page for tips before placing your bets for the 2009 Scottish National Hunt racing season.

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