As the flat season begins to wind down following Sunday’s Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe at Paris Longchamp and the jumps season starts to get going, now feels a suitable to discuss that age old argument; Flat Vs Jumps. The Derby or Grand National? Frankel or Kauto Star? A box at Ascot or corporate hospitality at Cheltenham?
Flat racing has more money, better weather, much more exposure from the media and costs less to stage but is it necessarily ‘better’? Here are a few thoughts on maybe it’s not as clear cut as it looks on the surface.
Old Favourites: Due to the nature of the finances in the flat game you often find that trainers are very careful with their stable stars. How many times do we see a younger horse dazzle us for two years with brilliant performances but before they have the chance to really prove themselves as a true ‘great’ they are retired to stud leaving us with happy memories but unanswered questions. How good could Almanzor have been? What could Sea The Stars have done at four? We’ll never know. It’s very different for the jumping lot though. Due to the fact a lot of the jumpers are gelded (operated on so they can’t reproduce) we get the pleasure of seeing them again and again, Kauto Star ran in six consecutive King Georges’ winning 5 of them, imagine a flat horse winning 5 Arc’s! Enable equalled the record when winning her second on Sunday.
The Start: Chester Racecourse is one of the most picturesque in the country. Right in the heart of a historical town with a beautiful grandstand. It only stages flat racing though and as many who like a punt will know, it is incredibly bias track due to the narrow nature of the track. If you get the inside starting stall you are immediately handed an advantage, this is the same at flat courses up and down the country. In Jumps racing jockeys are put to the test before the race has started as they jostle for position on the track with no emphasis on the draw.
Money: Money is woven into the culture of flat racing. Since Sheikh Mohammed’s first winner in British Racing back in 1977 (Hatta in a maiden race at Brighton) flat horses have become more and more sought after for Sheikh’s to a point where it’s now woven into the fabric of British Racing. Back in 2015 Qatar signed the biggest Sponsorship deal in the history of horse racing, with Goodwood Racecourse, seeing Glorious Goodwood renamed to The Qatar Goodwood Festival. The same interest is simply non-existent in Jumps racing, although it does have it perks, e.g. cost effective corporate hospitality at Cheltenham. Whats more, flat horses hold much more value as they are used to breed the next line of equine superstar, while jumpers are consigned to hunting and dressage.
Competition: Flat racing is a great sport, but in the sense of competitiveness it’s miles behind it’s winter cousin. Due to the domination of the top trainers and wide variety of races, the top trainers can pick and choose which route they go down, ensuring their stable stars will not face each other or others from the top yards, meaning many will finish as champions but largely unchallenged. In jumps all roads lead to Cheltenham and Aintree giving Racing fans mouth watering showdowns between the most prolific horses in each division, leaving no questions unanswered.
The Cheltenham Festival: Flat fans may enjoy a feast of festival action here in the UK, with plenty of big meets like The Guineas Meeting, The Derby Meeting, Royal Ascot, Goodwood and The St Leger Festival but jumps fans must bottle up all that excitement for the one big meet of the year; The Cheltenham Festival. On Cheltenham, Mick Fitzgerald who attends Paragon’s Cheltenham VIP Club each year says, “Cheltenham to me is the greatest show on earth. The atmosphere there is like no other and the action on the track never disappoints with some of the greatest racing in the world on display. I will never forget being led into the winners enclosure with the crowds cheering on my gold cup winner ‘See More Business’. Even though it is 19 years ago I can remember it like yesterday – there’s no better place to win.” Why not enjoy ‘the greatest show on turf’ in style? Click here to book corporate hospitality at Cheltenham today!
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