What’s the difference between a hurdle race and a chase?

In National Hunt racing, you’ll see that some races at called ‘Chases’ and some are ‘Hurdles’. However, you might not know the difference between them, so we’re going to give you a brief explanation so you know what sort of race you’re betting on.

Horses running hurdle raceBasically, a hurdle race is where horses jump over hurdles (unsurprisingly) and a chase is short for steeplechase, where horses run over fences.

Hurdles are the smaller objects as they have to be a minimum of three-and-a-half feet high, whereas fences must be a minimum of four-and-a-half-feet high.

Many horses will compete in hurdles to start with and then go onto fences as chases are usually the stronger encounters.

Horses in race jumping over hurdleA hurdle is usually made of brush and has some flexibility, making it easier for horses to complete the race. Fences are higher and require a horse to have a good jumping technique, so there is more risk of falling.

So you always want to make sure what sort of race you’re betting on and if a horse has never been over fences before, you might want to take that into account.

Races such as the Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup – which are two of the biggest around – are chases ran over fences.

You do get plenty of good hurdle races though, but as the horse gets a bit older it requires more of a jumping technique as their speed might not be what it was, so they’re likely to switch to fences.