Racing what?

Racing of any kind can be an interesting element in any story. In The Key to a Murder, the hero, Matthew Chaplain, takes an interest in horseracing, or steeplechasing to be more exact. Does this create a conflict with his ambition to be a priest? In any case, it introduces several interesting characters. Chapter Five of the audio version is at the end of this post.

A Roman chariot. Racing horses in various ways has been popular for a long time.

Racing horses in various ways has been popular for a long time.

Facts about National Hunt horseracing

The people and horses in the novel are fictitious, as are the events, but most of the background is true. Here are some facts.

  1. National Hunt racing is a type of horse racing that involves jumping fences or hurdles, as opposed to flat racing, which is run on a level track without obstacles.
  2. The National Hunt season in Great Britain and Ireland typically runs from October to April, with the highlight being the Cheltenham Festival in March.
  3. The most famous National Hunt race is the Grand National, a handicap steeplechase run over 4 miles 2 furlongs and 30 fences at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, England.
  4. Other major National Hunt races include the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the King George VI Chase, and the Champion Hurdle.
  5. There are two main categories in National Hunt racing: hurdles and steeplechases. Hurdle races involve jumping over obstacles that are at least 3 feet 6 inches (1.07 m) high, whilst steeplechases involve jumping over larger, more solid fences.
  6. The horses used in National Hunt races are generally larger and stronger than those used in flat racing.
  7. Many successful National Hunt horses have become household names, such as Arkle, Desert Orchid, and Red Rum, who won the Grand National a record three times.
  8. Many people say National Hunt jockeys are among the bravest athletes in sports, as they face significant risks of injury from falls and collisions with obstacles.
  9. The most successful National Hunt trainers in recent years include Nicky Henderson, Paul Nicholls, and Willie Mullins.
  10. National Hunt racing is hugely popular in Great Britain and Ireland. Millions of fans attend races each year and even more watch on television. The Cheltenham Festival alone attracts over 250,000 spectators annually.

Now listen to some fiction!

Here’s Chapter Five of The Key to a Murder.

Here’s a post telling you more about the book.