Five key Jumps races to watch in November

Cyrname could clash with Altior in the 1965 Chase at Ascot on November 23rd.
Cyrname could clash with Altior in the 1965 Chase at Ascot on November 23rd.

With the jumps season about to kick into full swing we asked Sean Raymond to pick out five key national hunt races to watch during November...

Saturday 2nd November - Charlie Hall Chase - Wetherby

Charlie Hall Chase day at Wetherby is often considered the start of the winter for fans of the Jumps in the UK, and it is easy to see why.

The clocks will have gone back by then, meaning punters in Yorkshire will be dusting off their big coats and scarfs to attend a terrific day of sport which culminates in the Grade 2 Charlie Hall over three miles. A strong field is normally guaranteed for the feature race, with the likelihood being that at least one or two will end up at Cheltenham for the Gold Cup in March.

See More Business, Cue Card and Silviniaco Conti are perhaps the three biggest names on the Charlie Hall roll of honour this century, with the Wetherby Races contest the ideal starting point for horses with big early season targets like the Betfair Chase or the King George, or for those horses looking for decent ground before the depths of winter descend.

We could certainly see a good race this year with Definitly Red, Bristol De Mai and La Bague Au Roi just three of the potential runners for what should be a cracking contest in the north.

Saturday 16th November - Bet Victor Gold Cup - Cheltenham

The November Meeting at Cheltenham is widely considered to be one of the best fixtures of the season, with the BetVictor Gold Cup at its beating heart on the Saturday afternoon. The Grade 3 handicap chase is one of the most exciting races on the National Hunt calendar, and one that all of the major trainers and owners will be gunning for once again.

The atmosphere will be sizzling at Prestbury Park, with the race always a thrilling spectacle and it would be no surprise to see another winner of the highest order. Fresh in the mind is the win of Imperial Commander, who won the renewal in 2008 before going on to secure wins in the Ryanair Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup during his illustrious career. It remains to be seen if we see a winner of that calibre in 2019, but it is shaping up to be a competitive contest with Spiritofthegames, Siruh Du Lac and Brio Conti among the ante-post market leaders.

Saturday 16th November - Morgiana Hurdle - Punchestown

The racing in Ireland will also kick up a notch or two over the next few weeks, with several huge fixtures to follow with the Festival in mind, including the brilliant Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown.

The build-up to the 2020 Champion Hurdle will be in full swing when we get to see the best of the division from Ireland take their chance at Punchestown. The Grade 1 race tends to be the first of the campaign for the main Willie Mullins Champion Hurdle contenders, with the legendary Irish handler winning the race nine times during his career. Hurricane Fly, Nichols Canyon, Faugheen and Sharjah have all won for Mullins on the path to Cheltenham and there is every chance we will see Supreme Novices Hurdle winner Klassical Dream take his chance in 2019 in a bid to extend that remarkable record

Klassical Dream is widely considered as the next star of the Champion Hurdle division, meaning the Morgiana Hurdle could be the first chance to see that theory tested.

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Saturday 23rd November  - Betfair Chase  - Haydock Park

The Betfair Chase only has a short history, having been first run in 2005, but it has already become one of the key moments of the National Hunt season, with the best staying chasers in training in the UK (and sometimes Ireland) often using the race as their first start of the campaign. The Cheltenham Gold Cup is a long way off at this time of the winter, but this is the first step on the road to Prestbury Park, and we can once again expect a stellar field to head to Lancashire this month as a result.

Kauto Star, Silviniaco Conti, Cue Card and Bristol De Mai are the four stand-out names on the recent roll of honour, and the latter will be back this month at his favourite venue looking for a third successive win. The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained animal loves Haydock when there is some cut in the ground, and will be tough to beat once again on that basis, although he could face some decent rivals.

Ryanair Chase winner Frodon could take his chance up in trip, while the same can be said of Lostintranslation, who was a Grade 1-winning novice chaser at Aintree for Colin Tizzard, and he could step into open company for the first time in the North West.

Saturday 23rd November - 1965 Chase - Ascot

The Betfair Chase does tend to dominate on that Saturday, but racing fans should be keeping at least one eye on Ascot on the same day, with the Berkshire venue hosting one of its best National Hunt cards of the season.

The 1965 Chase is a Grade 2 contest over two miles and five furlongs, and serves as the ideal spot for potential King George VI Chase horses to have a run before Boxing Day. Expect a number of the field to head to Kempton at Christmas time, and this year's renewal promises to be a special one, with talk of both Altior and Cyrname turning up for their seasonal reappearances.

Altior has been the best chaser in training for some time now, and with a step up in trip now on the cards, there could be a bumper crowd at Ascot for the appearance of a horse who has captured the public imagination. Recent winners of the 1965 Chase include Albertas Run, Master Minded and Al Ferof, but Altior would surpass them all in terms of quality if he can produce the goods which ensures this race is potentially special, don't miss it.

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