Grade 2 Races Explained

Other than the Grade 1 races, the Grade 2 races are conducted as "Weight-for-Age races" with additional penalties for previous wins or alternatively as Limited Handicaps (which work like regular handicaps only within a much smaller weight range). Grade 2 jump meetings are a part of the jumps festivals at Aintree and Cheltenham, but there are also a plethora of Grade 2 events independent of the big festivals.

Ideal meetings for those who want to get a first impression of the sport or simply don't care for massive events, the Grade 2s are well worth checking out. Below is a list of Grade 2 races but these events change from year to year and so will be worth checking out on the relevant website of the racecourse concerned or in your local press. Simply use the following list as a guide for where to possibly find Grade 2 races.

The Grade 2 Jump Races in the United Kingdom are:

Race Location Distance Age Group
October
Persian War Novice's Hurdle Chepstow 2m 4f 4yo+
Old Roan Chase Aintree 2m 4f 4yo+
October / November
West Yorkshire Hurdle Wetherby 3m 1f 4yo+
Charlie Hall Chase Wetherby 3m 1f 5yo+
Haldon Gold Cup Chase Exeter 2m 1½f 4yo+
November
Rising Stars Novices' Chase Wincanton 2m 5f 4yo+
Elite Hurdle Wincanton 2m 4yo+
Sharp Novices' Hurdle Cheltenham 2m ½f 4yo+
Prestbury Juvenile Novices' Hurdle Cheltenham 2m ½f 3yo
November Novices' Chase Cheltenham 2m 4yo+
Hyde Novices' Hurdle Cheltenham 2m 5f 4yo+
Amlin 1965 Chase Ascot 2m 3f 4yo+
Ascot Hurdle Ascot 2m 3½f 4yo+
November / December
Worcester Novices' Chase Newbury 3m 4yo+
Berkshire Novices' Chase Newbury 2m 4f 4yo+
Long Distance Hurdle Newbury 3m ½f 4yo+
Peterborough Chase Huntingdon 2m 4½f 4yo+
December
Winter Novices' Hurdle Sandown 2m 4½f 4yo+
Henry VIII Novices' Chase Sandown 2m 4yo+
Relkeel Hurdle Cheltenham 2m 5½f 4yo+
Boylesports.com International Hurdle Cheltenham 3m 4yo+
Bristol Novices' Hurdle Cheltenham 3m 4yo+
December Novices' Chase Lingfield 3m 4yo+
Summit Junior Hurdle Lingfield 2m ½f 3yo
Kennel Gate Novices' Hurdle Ascot 2m 4yo+
Noel Novices' Chase Ascot 2m 3f 4yo+
Championship Standard Open NHF Race (Flat) Ascot 2m 4-6yo
Wayward Lad Novices' Chase Kempton 2m 4yo+
Desert Orchid Chase Kempton 2m 4yo+
January
Dipper Novices' Chase Cheltenham 2m 5f 5yo+
Leamington Novices' Hurdle Warwick 2m 5f 4yo+
Holloway's Hurdle Ascot 2m 3½f 4yo+
Lightning Novices' Chase Ascot 2m 1f 5yo+
Warfield Mares' Hurdle Ascot 3m 4yo+
Rossington Main Novices' Hurdle Haydock 2m ½f 4yo+
Champion Hurdle Trial Haydock 2m ½f 4yo+
Peter Marsh Chase Haydock 3m 5yo+
Altcar Novices' Chase Haydock 2m 4f 5yo+
Doncaster Mares' Hurdle Doncaster 2m ½f 4yo+
River Don Novices' Hurdle Doncaster 3m ½f 4yo+
Cleeve Hurdle Cheltenham 3m 5yo+
Classic Novices' Hurdle Cheltenham 2m 4½f 4yo+
Cotswold Chase Cheltenham 3m 1½f 5yo+
Finesse Juvenile Novices' Hurdle Cheltenham 2m 1f 4yo+
January / February
Towton Novices' Chase Wetherby 3m 1f 5yo+
February
Kingmaker Novices' Chase Warwick 2m 5yo+
Aon Chase Newbury 3m 5yo+
Game Spirit Chase Newbury 2m 1f 5yo+
Winter Bumper (Flat) Newbury 2m ½f 4-6yo
Reynoldstown Novices' Chase Ascot 3m 5yo+
Rendlesham Hurdle Haydock 3m 1f 4yo+
Prestige Novices' Hurdle Haydock 3m 1f 4yo+
Kingwell Hurdle Wincanton 2m 4yo+
National Spirit Hurdle Fontwell 2m 4f 4yo+
Pendil Novices' Chase Kempton 2m 4½f 5yo+
Dovecote Novices' Hurdle Kempton 2m 4yo+
Adonis Juvenile Novices' Hurdle Kempton 2m 4yo
February / March
Premier Kelso Hurdle Kelso 2m 2f 4yo+
March
David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle Cheltenham 2m 4f 4yo+
April
Liverpool Hurdle Aintree 3m ½f 4yo+
Totesport Bowl Chase Aintree 3m 1f 5yo+
Manifesto Novices' Chase Aintree 2m 4f 5yo+
Top Novices' Hurdle Aintree 2m ½f 4yo+
Mildmay Novices' Chase Aintree 3m 1f 5yo+
Mersey Novices' Hurdle Aintree 2m 4f 4yo+
Champion Standard Open NH Flat Race Aintree 2m 1f 4-6yo
Silver Trophy Chase Cheltenham 2m 5f 5yo+
Future Champion Novices' Chase Ayr 2m 4f 5yo+
Scottish Champion Hurdle Ayr 2m 4yo+
Celebration Chase Sandown 2m 5yo+

What is a Grade 2 Race?

All races in the National Hunt calendar are Graded. The top horses compete in what are Class 1 events. However, these events are sub-divided into Grades and are Grade 1, 2, and finally Grade 3. Every single major race in the calendar has a Class 1 status. There are around 30 races per season at Grade 1 which is hardly surprising seeing as these will constitute the bulk of the top National Hunt horses for that particular season.

The next scale down the racing ladder is Grade 2 events and here we find for example the Future Champions Novices Chaseand the Desert Orchid Chase. These races are decided by "weight for age" factors as previously described. Previous form is factored in and previous good results can affect a horses handicap weighting. So in this instance, the system aims to pitch the right horses at the right levels to ensure good racing.

You need to remember what the grading system and the handicapping system is designed to do. Fundamentally it is done to protect the very integrity of horse racing not just as a spectator sport but also as a sport to bet on as well. If you think about what makes horse racing so fun then the reason for this grading system is pretty self-evident.

If the gap between certain horses was too wide then the results of races would be a foregone conclusion. As a result of that, there would be no betting interest. Betting firms would have no interest in laying a certain winner at any price if it was simply going to win. So the grading system is designed to pull horses closer together in ability as is the weighting system too.

Grade 2 horses have aspirations of becoming Grade 1 horses or at least their owners and trainers do. However, this doesn’t alter the fact that many Grade 2 horses have moved up to that level from lower levels and many will ultimately not be able to move to Grade 1. All horses are bound to reach their optimal performance level and it is the job of the trainer to find out what that level is to optimise the horses earning potential.