What to Look Forward to in The 2015-16 Jumps Season
October 19 - There is always a lot of excitement in the air at this time of the year as everyone is keen to see last season's champions return looking to reign supreme once again, while a whole host of novices are introduced to obstacles.
Here is what we have to look forward to in the 2015/16 season.
Betfair Chase - November
The first Grade One contest of the 2015/16 campaign always begins in November at Haydock and this is the point where the top class 3m chasers are unwrapped from cotton wool. It is the opportunity for the Grade One horses to shake off the cobwebs. They are normally at their best at this time of the year but they do come on a lot for the run.
Silviniaco Conti has won this race twice in the last three years and Paul Nicholls' runner is expected to return again for another shot in Lancashire.
Kauto Star is the only other horse in history to have won this race three times so he would join an exclusive club. He is likely to face a strong challenge to his crown this time around as this is the first leg of the ?1 million bonus scheme for winning three of the big races on the national hunt calendar. Expect the winner to go straight to Kempton on Boxing Day for the King George VI Chase, leg two of the Triple Crown.
Cheltenham Festival ? March
Thousands and thousands of racing fans will flock to Prestbury Park in March from all over the UK and Ireland for the highlight of the national hunt season.
The blue riband event of the week is the Cheltenham Gold Cup which looks to be wide open this season. Many of last year's novices will step up to the big time, including the likes of Don Cossack, Djakadam and Vautour.
Grand National - April
We won't know the official Grand National 2016 runners until February, however, those who do feature in the world's most famous steeplechase tend to have 2-3 warm-up runs before then. Some will be looking to go up the handicap in order to make it into the maximum field of 40, while other connections will want to protect their horse's mark in order to be handed a favourable weight.
Jockey Leighton Aspell is aiming for an unprecedented third straight victory in the contest. The national hunt rider was able to steer Pineau De Re to success in the 2014 running of the race, while last April he repeated that feat on board Many Clouds for trainer Oliver Sherwood.
Punchestown Festival - April
The Punchestown Festival is the last big meeting in the 2015/16 national hunt season. Those who succeeded at Cheltenham and at Aintree in the Grand National meeting, look to follow up their successes with another big race win.
It is very possible we could see some big names bow out at the Festival this year so it could be an emotional day.
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