Five key Jumps races to watch before the Charlie Hall Chase

There's some excellent early season Jumps action between now and November.
There's some excellent early season Jumps action between now and November.

Jumps racing enthusiasts across the UK and Ireland are quietly counting down the days until the "proper" part of the National Hunt season kicks in, and it is fair to say that excitement is building.

The Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby is often seen by many as the unofficial start of the winter, but with the Yorkshire race taking place on the 2nd November this year, there is plenty of action to follow before that.

National Hunt fanatics will be eager to drink in as much of the great game as possible as the nights start to draw in, so we have come up with a list of five races to watch before the tapes go up for the Wetherby race at the start of November...

Persian War Novices Hurdle - Chepstow - Friday 11th October

Chepstow have a fantastic two-day season opener in October which has grown in stature in recent years and it is the Persian War Novices Hurdle that tends to attract some of the higher quality animals. Named after the great hurdler, we have seen horses like Blaklion, Reve De Sivola and two-time King George winner Silviniaco Conti win the Grade 2 hurdle in recent years - which proves it is a race to watch.

JT McNamara Ladbrokes Munster National - Limerick - Sunday 13th October

A Grade A race worth 100,000 Euros, the Munster National is always a thrilling spectacle as the great and good of the Irish training ranks descend on the popular Limerick Races venue. The Munster feature always seems to attract a good calibre of stayer, with past winners in the last decade including Raz De Maree, Total Recall and no less than Tiger Roll, who famously won the race in 2017 before going on to achieve iconic status in the sport.

Masterson Holdings Hurdle - Cheltenham - Saturday 26th October

Any meeting at Cheltenham is special, and that includes the opening two-day showcase fixture at the end of October as the National Hunt world heads back to its spiritual home in Gloucestershire. There are some excellent races over the card but perhaps the stand out is the Masterson Holdings Hurdle over two miles on the Old Course.

Open to four-year-old horses, the race is the perfect start to the campaign for juvenile horses looking to step up into open company later in the winter, and there have been some notable recent winners in recent years, including future Champion Chase Dodging Bullets and Grand National hero Tiger Roll to name just two.

Old Roan Chase - Aintree - Sunday 27th October

Aintree is of course best known for the Grand National in the spring, but there is an excellent card in October as well, with the Liverpool venue kicking off its season with a family friendly Halloween race day. The Old Roan Chase is the feature race on the card, with the limited handicap a Grade 2 contest run over two and a half miles on the famous Mildmay course. 

The Old Roan can be an early season pointer towards some very good horses, with Kauto Star, Monet's Garden and Albertas Run three of the stand-out names on the recent roll of honour. It's also worth noting that it produced a subsequent Ryanair Chase winner in 2018, too, in the form of the Paul Nicholls-trained Frodon.

WKD Hurdle - Down Royal - Friday 1st November

The Down Royal Races fixture at the start of November is always a cracker and it kicks off on the Friday with a top class Grade 2 in the form of the 2m WKD Hurdle.

First run in 2001, the WKD Hurdle could easily throw up a potential Champion Hurdle horse with names like Jezki, Identity Thief and Melon on the recent roll of honour at down Royal. We also saw the highly touted Samcro lose on seasonal debut in the race in 2018 - which is further proof of its potential importance to the early part of the campaign.

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