When does the Flat season end, and the new Jumps season start?

Generic Fence Grandstand Shot Wetherby

We run through the rather confusing make-up of the British racing calendar, and try to outline where one code finishes, and another one starts...

By its very nature, sport is designed to have beginnings and endings; so that winners can be crowned and champions can be born - before everything resets, and we then start again a few days, weeks or even months later with a brand new season. 

That, in theory, rings true for racing, though this is a sport which never sleeps - we will have just four blank days in the whole of 2020, with all four coming over the Christmas period - and the fact that the Flat and the Jumps seasons both live and overlap in harmony throughout the year means that the boundaries between the two can become rather unclear.  

For instance, the starting point of the Flat Turf season can change depending on which perspective you take. Traditionally, the level would start and end at Doncaster - beginning with the Lincoln Handicap in late March/early April (forming the 'Spring Double' with the Grand National at Aintree), and ending with the November Handicap. However, if you follow the season based on the Jockeys' Championship, the season now officially starts later (on 2000 Guineas Day at Newmarket) and finishes earlier (on Champions Day at Ascot), while the Trainers' Championship takes in the whole year. If you add in the fact that Flat racing both exists and thrives during the winter months, via All-Weather racing in the UK (which has its own season and a finals day to boot) as well as over in Meydan for its lucrative World Cup Carnival, the level starts to feel rather non-stop.  

The Jumps season is slightly less ambiguous, in that it always finishes with a Finals Day at Sandown Park towards the end of April, and generally restarts within a few days of the previous season. It's an unforgiving make-up, though the code has a break of around a week and a half in August, and doesn't really begin in earnest until the autumn. 

That being said, there is some quality racing which takes place during the warmer months - particularly in Ireland, which has the Galway Festival during the summer, as well as the Kerry and the Munster Nationals a bit later on - while in Britain there is the Summer Plate at Market Rasen, and Perth's final meeting of the year at the end of September regularly provides some pointers for the season.

However, despite it's almost year-round presence, the Jumps season is generally considered to really kick back into action with the Charlie Hall meeting at Wetherby at the beginning of November, a race which has become a traditional warm-up for the Betfair Chase at Haydock later that month, and regularly features horses who could find themselves plotting a path to the Cheltenham Gold Cup later in the year. 

Then again, the Charlie Hall is followed a week later by yet more Flat racing at Doncaster, so who knows

Grand National Runners
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