National Hunt racing in the UK is divided into two major distinct branches: Hurdles and Steeple Chase. Alongside these there are "Bumpers" which are National Hunt flat races.
The Jump Racing programme runs on turf from Autumn through to Spring and takes advantage of a variety and geographical spread of racecourses.
Timber obstacles of a minimum 3'6" in height are cleared.
Hurdles races are divided into the following categories, determined by age, experience and distance:
2 mile Juvenile
2 mile Novice
2 mile Open
2½ mile Novice
2½ mile Open
3+ mile Novice
3+ mile Open
Please note: 'Juvenile' races are those open only to 3 year old horses if the race is in October-December, or 4 year olds only if the race is in January-April. 'Novice' races are only open to horses who, at the start of the Jumps season, are yet to win a race. However, the horse can continue to run in Novice races all season even after it wins a race, so long as at the start of the season it had never won a race. 'Open' races are open to all horses.
Where there are a variety of obstacles to be cleared which can include:
Plain fence: which are a minimum of 4'6" in height on the take off side
Water Jump: where horses clear a fence of at least 3' in height and land in water 3" deep
Open Ditch: Are a minimum of 4'6" in height on the take off side with a ditch on the take off side
Again, Steeplechasing is divided into the following categories based on age, experience and distance:
Bumpers (National Hunt Flat Races)
Generally the last race on a Jumps card, Bumpers allow novice horses to race on flat ground in order to become accustomed to racing before facing the challenge of Jump racing.
There are also some other kinds of race, all of which sit among the above categories:
Races where the horse will carry a certain amount of weight, depending on the horse's handicap rating. The better the horse, the higher the rating so the more weight it will carry, thus giving horses of a poorer quality an even chance of winning the race.
Also known as a 'claimer'. This is a race in which any runner may be claimed after the race for an advertised sum or more. If the owner of any runner wishes it to carry less than the maximum weight, the price at which it may be claimed is reduced accordingly.
Also known as a 'seller', a selling race is a race in which the winner must be put up for auction.
Horses who have not yet won a race are referred to as maidens, hence a Maiden race is a race for non winners.
A race for apprentice jockeys only.