Cheltenham Festival;

Started today;

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Girl power! Unbeaten Honeysuckle takes the Champion Hurdle, with jockey Rachael Blackmore becoming the first female rider to win the historic Gr. 1 fixture.


And VERY convincingly. Honeysuckle hasn’t lost one yet.

Tiger Roll!


2 more for Rachael Blackmore today


Tiger Roll was sensational! Such a joy to watch him run.

Looked like he was out for a day’s hunting.

I was so impressed with the course–did not know about the banks and drops.

It’s a steeplechase.

I have watched the Grand National, which I think is also a steeplechase? Don’t remember seeing a bank.

The courses vary by location and would include features you may find riding across open country.

Silly question, maybe - how much do the jockeys find a distance in steeplechase?

They always say they leave the good horses to do it themselves.

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That was a specific cross country course built for the Cheltenham race. Most National Hunt steeplechase are run over brush fences that are fairly standard in size and shape, some will have ditches too, and the undulations in most racecorses affect how the fences ride. The jumps in the Grand National are exceptional. This particular cross country style of racing is far more common in France, which is entertaining to watch, and there are, I believe, some in Ireland. In the UK there are hunt races over natural country such as the Melton Hunt Cup and the Golden Button but they aren’t run under Jockey Club rules.

It takes skill on both sides. The horses are taught to jump and are schooled at home because good, efficient jumpers are more likely to win races. That is something that has definitely improved in my lifetime. One rarely sees some manic, hard-mouthed, unschooled tearaway racing these days. So the horses are trained to jump at speed and will learn about distance and to set themselves right for the fence. If not, they don’t win races.

On the other side, the jockeys are notable for both their strength and balance. Many start riding as children, hunting and showjumping their ponies, then progress to point-to-pointing once old enough (16 years in the UK) which is jump racing for amateurs or go straight to a trainers yard as an apprentice to become professionals. Some top jump jockeys remain amateur. Jump jockeys aim to get their mount into a good rythmn and control position in the field and judge speed to put the horse into contention because over the long distances it is a very tactical game. When running at 25 - 30 mph fiddling around with stride approaching a fence can really upset the balance of the horse so it is mainly up to the animal to get it right and the jockey is poised in on top, but, having said that, some jockeys have a particularly good eye for a stride and can assist the horse. Jockey strength and balance comes into play when the horse makes a mistake over a fence and towards the end of a race when a great jockey can pick up and reenergise a tired horse to win.

Thank you, @Willesdon, for your informative answers.

Rachael Blackmore top jockey at Cheltenham, a first for women jockeys. Yay! 6 winners, when most jockeys consider one winner at Cheltenham to be a lifetime achievement. To put that into perspective for a pro jockey, she also had 4 falls.

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I was lucky enough to go watch at Cheltenham years ago. There was one horse that looked like he wanted to be a show hunter, but I did not have room for him in my luggage. I still wonder what became of him.

Tiger Roll finally looked happy again and comfortable. he went through a little bit of a lull but he looked great once again. I love how he starts to enter the final circuit and he seems to know. he gets heavy on the forehand, stretches out, ears start to prick , and he starts moving like a stalking cheetah; efficiency in motion. kind of gives you chills to watch.