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Jump racing’s biggest winners of the season so far

The National Hunt racing season is back in full flow and the return of racegoers for the first time since the 2020 renewal of the Cheltenham Festival went ahead controversially with a full capacity has been a welcome addition to the 2021-22 campaign — let’s just hope that racecourses up and down the country are allowed to keep their gates open for the foreseeable future!  

The festive period is when the jumps season really comes to life, with the Kempton Christmas Festival, which is headlined by the prestigious King George VI Chase, the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow, and the Leopardstown Christmas Festival all on the agenda between Boxing Day and New Year’s.  

So, as the anticipation for an action-packed period of the racing calendar grows and we get a good look at some Cheltenham hopefuls, let’s take a look at some of the horses who have made the headlines already this season. Read on to find out more! 

Betfair Chase – A Plus Tard

A lot was expected of A Plus Tard in the Cheltenham Gold Cup back in March — largely due to the immense form of Rachael Blackmore and trainer Henry de Bromhead, the seven-year-old moved into the market leader for the Cheltenham showpiece in the Betdaq horse racing betting. However, he ultimately came up short as his stablemate Minella Indo and Jack Kennedy caused a stir. 

There are a lot of hopes for A Plus Tard again this year and he got off to the perfect start with a huge victory in the Betfair Chase at Haydock — staying well and jumping fantastically to win the first Grade 1 of the season by a mammoth 22 lengths clear of Royale Pagaille

A Plus Tard will next feature in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown on December 28th, going head-to-head with the likes of Al Boum Photo and Minella Indo in the three-mile race, and a victory against that kind of competition could give a good insight on his Gold Cup aspirations.

Trophy Chase – Cloudy Glen

The Trophy Chase might not boast Grade 1 status, but the Newbury Winter Festival’s highlight is still one of the most prestigious races on the National Hunt calendar, with many winners going on to become a Grand National or Gold Cup champion. 

This year’s renewal turned out to be rather emotional as Cloudy Glen stormed home in the famous green, yellow, and white colors of the late Trevor Hemmings, who passed away in October, to win by a length-and-a-half clear of Fiddlerontheroof from a massive 33/1. It was the kind of run that Hemmings, who foaled the eight-year-old himself, would have loved. Cloth Cap, who also donned the unmistakeable silks, came home in sixth. 

“It was written in the stars. Trevor was looking down,” Venetia Williams, who trains Cloudy Glen, said after the race.  

Tingle Creek Chase – Greaneteen

Back to Grade 1 level, the Tingle Creek Chase took place at Sandown Park earlier this month and surprise winner Greaneteen landed 12-time British jump racing Champion Trainer, Paul Nicholls, his recording-extending 12th victory in the one-mile, seven-and-a-half-furlong race. 

Fourth on his seasonal reappearance in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter last month, the seven-year-old set off as a 12/1 shot at Sandown Park. However, with heavy favorite Chacun Pour Soi putting in a dismal performance — which ultimately resulted in him finishing last — the door was blown wide open and Nicholls landed a fantastic 1-2 in the Tingle Creek, with Greaneteen beating Hitman over the line by more than five lengths. 

It was a second major victory of the campaign for jockey Bryony Frost after she won the Down Royal Champion Chase with her trusty horse Frodon earlier this season. The pair will be hoping to defend their King George VI crown at Kempton on Boxing Day. 

Other big Grade 1 winners this season include Epatante and Not So Sleepy, who had to settle for a rare dead heat in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle, and Honeysuckle and Allah, who won the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle and the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Fairyhouse and Punchestown, respectively. 

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