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Wednesday, 13 November, 2002, 20:21 GMT
Jump racing: The courses
There are 59 racecourses in Great Britain.

Cheltenham racecourse
Cheltenham is a picturesque course

Some stage only Flat, others only jumping while some offer both.

Three courses - Lingfield, Southwell and Wolverhampton - have all-weather tracks although no jump races are held there.

In all, 42 racecourses stage National Hunt racing.

Cheltenham is known as the home of National Hunt racing.

Every March, it holds the three-day Cheltenham festival, which is the most important meeting of the season.

Clickable guide

Kempton (in December) and Aintree (in April) host the other two major meetings of the National Hunt season.

British courses come in many shapes and sizes.

At most tracks, for example Cheltenham and Aintree, races are run left-handed, ie anti-clockwise around the course.

But some courses are right-handed (clockwise) - for example, Kempton, Ascot and Sandown.

This can be crucial to a horse's chances.

Not all horses jump straight - if a horse veers left when jumping on a right-handed course, it will mean it has to cover a greater distance.

Cartmel and Fontwell are unusual in that both are figure-of-eight circuits.

Courses also offer differing forms of terrain and obstacle difficulty.

For example, the finishing straight at Cheltenham is uphill, which tests a horse's stamina.

Meanwhile, Newbury's fences are stiffer than most, meaning that a horse must be a sound jumper if it is to do well there.


Horses and courses

People

Races

Betting
Links to more Horse Racing stories are at the foot of the page.


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