Key Horses During National Hunt Season

When the winter arrives in the UK, horse racing shifts from the glamor of the flat to the endeavor and thrill of the jumps with the National Hunt season taking center stage from mid-October through to mid-April. There are a number of favorites returning to the track this year and with key races such as the King George, Cheltenham Gold Cup, and the Grand National, there are many horses who will be aiming to make a splash this season.

A number of prominent trainers are preparing their stable strings for a busy six months as they compete for a share of the generous prize money on offer at courses such as Aintree, Cheltenham, and Kempton Park. Let's take a look at some of the bigger names who look set to make the headlines throughout the winter months.

Native River was the 2016 Welsh Grand National Winner, beating Carols Destrier by a narrow margin with the runner-up amongst the entries once again for the 2017 renewal. The 7-year-old was also victorious in the Denman Chase at the beginning of 2017 and will be a significant figure over the fences this season. He could only come third in last season's Cheltenham Gold Cup and is likely to head to Merseyside to compete in the 2018 Grand National at Aintree. Native River is already amongst the early favorites for April's world-famous steeplechase, alongside Blaklion, Definitely Red, and Cause of Causes.

American is hoping to follow in the footsteps of the aforementioned Native River when he takes to the Chepstow fences in the Welsh Grand National on December 27th. Harry Fry's charge was one of the leading novice's last season and has been chalked up as the early favorite for the post-Christmas event.

Thistlecrack is one of the early favorites for the 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup and is aiming to bounce back after missing last year's renewal through injury. The Colin Tizzard trained horse is likely to go over the hurdles before tackling the larger obstacles at Kempton in the King George on Boxing Day. The 9-year-old looked imperious when beating stablemate Cue Card during the 2016 staging of the event and will be hoping to replicate that dominant performance this time around.

Unowhatimeanharry has already made his seasonal comeback at Aintree at the beginning of November and has won nine of his 10 starts for trainer Harry Fry. The handler has described his charge as being in "such good form" at home and is confident of another all-conquering campaign for the 9-year-old.

Nicky Henderson's Might Bite looks set for another profitable campaign and the trainer has claimed his charge will enter the King George before he can make any decision on the eight-year old's path during the second half of the campaign. The star is on a four-race winning streak and has been looking in tremendous shape so far this season. Nico de Boinville guided him to success during the Future Stars Intermediate Chase at Sandown and there is certainly more to come from this powerful specimen.

There are a number of horses to keep an eye on throughout the National Hunt season with punters enjoying the top class action on a weekly basis. The Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National may seem a while off, but there are many clues to be picked up throughout the jumps campaign which could help point you in the direction of many big race winners.

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