Although the jump racing season lasts pretty much all year round thesedays, there is no doubt that for racing purists, the main and most important part of the season runs through the winter months and into spring, from November through to April the following year, culminating in the massive Grand National meeting at Aintree in Liverpool.

There is no doubt that bet365 Sport punters are keen on their horse racing and with the flat season now winding down, it is time to really begin to focus on the meaty part of the National Hunt season that lies ahead.

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That would be a nice way to start your winter betting over the fences as there are a number of to meetings to enjoy over the coming months as we shall explore in our review of the major dates of the National Hunt season 2018-19.

National Hunt Season – Key Dates, Meetings and Races

  • Cheltenham – The November Meeting (Fri 16th to Sun 18th November)

Starting this coming Friday with the BetVictor Handicap Chase and the Steel Place and Sections Novices’ Steeple Chase, the November Meeting at Cheltenham is one of the top late autumn events in the racing calendar.

These races are followed on Saturday by the Bet Victor Handicap Steeple Chase and the Bet Victor Gold Cup Steeple Chase, and then on Sunday the meeting concludes with The Racing Post Arkle Trophy Trial Novices Steeple Chase and the Shloer Steeple Chase.

With six races each day, there’s plenty of top runners in action over the weekend, many of whom may be seeking to go on to bigger and better things in some of the higher profile races later in the season.

  • Haydock Park – Betfair Chase Day (Saturday 24th November)

This one-day meeting is one of the most important in the early weeks of the National Hunt season with the Grade 1 Betfair Chase National Hunt Steeple Chase being the biggest race of the meeting.  Four of the races at the meeting will be covered live by ITV Racing and there are a total of seven races to be run, starting at 12.10pm. The Betfair Steeple Chase is the penultimate race at 3pm, but before then there are a number of other big races to enjoy, namely the Betfair Each Way Edge Handicap Steeple Chase, the Betfair Best Odds on ITV Races Handicap Hurdle and the Betfair Exchange Stayers Handicap.

This race could well see the return to action of Colin Tizzard’s fabulous runner Thistlecrack, who is currently a 14/1 shot antepost with bet365 Sport after returning from injury and a disappointing end to the 2017 season, which saw him miss out on a shot at the Gold Cup.

  • Newbury – Ladbrokes Winter Carnival (Friday 30th November to Saturday 1st December)

This two-day meeting sees two big races run on the Saturday with a seven race card preceding it on the Friday including the Ladbrokes Novices Steeple Chase, the Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle and the Ladbrokes Handicap Steeple Chase.

On Saturday the action turns to the Ladbrokes Trophy, starting at 3pm, which has seen previous winners including Arkle, Mill House, Burrough Hill Lad and Denman. Further races include the Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle, the Sir Peter O’Sullevan Memorial Handicap Steeple Chase and the Ladbrokes Intermediate Hurdle.

  • Kempton Park – 32 Red Winter Festival (26th & 27th December)

Boxing Day in the UK would not be the same without the Winter Festival at Kempton Park and once again the racing on that day doesn’t disappoint with a total of three Grade 1 races on the day including the Christmas Hurdle, the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase and lastly the biggest race of the meeting, the King George VI Steeple Chase, won last year by Nicky Henderson’s Might Bite.

The second day of the meeting sees plenty of Grade 2 action with the Wayward Lad Novice’s Steeple Chase and the Desert Orchid Chase of the most interest, the last of the two races has produced some very notable winners in the past including Sprinter Sacre, Special Tiara and Sire de Grugy.

  • Cheltenham – The Cheltenham Festival (12th March to 15th March)

It is fair to say that the Cheltenham Festival is more than just a horse racing meeting, it has become something of a British institution that attracts a huge number of punters both at the course itself and online, to join in the action over what is an action packed four days of racing early in the spring.

The four days are each themed with the first being Champion Day, the second Ladies Day, the third St Patrick’s Thursday and lastly is Gold Cup day, when the signature race, the Cheltenham Gold Cup, one of the premiere races of the National Hunt season, is contested.

However the sheer number of top quality races at the festival is what makes it a must see for horse racing fans and so popular with punters as in addition to the Gold Cup, across each of the four days the following races will be amongst the many contested:

  • Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle
  • Arkle Trophy
  • Unibet Champion Hurdle
  • Coral Cup
  • Betway Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase
  • Weatherbys Champion Bunmper
  • Boodles Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap
  • Glenfarclass Cross Country Steeple Chase
  • RSA Steeple Chase
  • Pertemps Network Final
  • Ryanair Steeple Chase
  • Sun Bets Stayers Hurdle
  • Kim Muir Challenge Cup
  • JCB Triumph Hurdle
  • Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle
  • St James Place Foxhunter Steeple Chase
  • Martin Pipe Conditional Jockey’s Handicap

With so many races across the four days and so many different runners and riders, the festival has become a celebration of horseracing and is one of the main must-see events of the National Hunt season.

  • Aintree – Grand National Festival – (4th to 6th April)

The last big meeting of the National Hunt season takes place in Liverpool at Aintree and it is the famous Grand National meeting, the busiest day of the year for horse racing betting as people across the nation have a flutter on who will win the iconic race of the meeting.

Highlights of the three day event include the Betway Aintree Hurdle, the Betway Bowl Steeple Chase, The JLT Melling Steeple Chase, the Randox Health Topham Steeple Chase, the RyanAir Stayers Hurdle and of course, the Grand National Steeple Chase, which is run over 4 miles and 2.5 furlongs on the famous Aintree circuit.

With so many high quality events in between each of these marquis National Hunt meetings to enjoy, there’s no reason not to enjoy a flutter on the horses during the coming few months.