A different kind of jump race

So alright, just for once, lets talk about the literal side of work, some horse racing. To the thoroughly uninitiated amongst you, there are 2 types of horse racing, flat racing, where the horses gallop, and never see an obstacle on the course, and then there is national hunt (or jumps) racing, where yes, you’ve guessed it, lots of obstacles in the way of fences and hurdles which have to be jumped, without losing their jockeys in the process.

Technically, within the latter area, there is something that is just ever so slightly different, called cross country racing. There are only 2 tracks in the UK and Ireland where this takes place, and both are holding races over those courses this weekend, Cheltenham and Punchestown. A lot of the fences are similar, though banks (like running up a hill, then back down again) are certainly not seen in normal races. Punchestown goes a step further, and even has a water splash, and used to have a stone wall too, but judging by the film (end of blog), the Health & Safety people have done away with that?

I would actually imagine its as close as we get to the original form of steeplechasing across fields, between 2 steeples nowadays?

Some horses have fits when they see these strange fences, others love them! Some Irish horses only run in cross country races! The most famous example of that over the years was a horse called Risk Of Thunder, who won so many of them, the race at Punchestown this weekend is named after him!

Being honest, apart from the big races, these are my main form of interest in horse racing nowadays, and hopefully I get to see at least part of the fun between calls this weekend. To play the pun on Star Trek, its horse racing, but not as we know it lol!

Anyway, as an example of this magical mayhem, I include film of the most famous of these races each year, the La Touche Cup, this years version in fact, with quite a rousing finish.


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