The Great Dual Code Debate – Flat v Jumps

Football doesn’t have it. Rugby Union doesn’t have it. Neither does Rugby League. F1 doesn’t have it. Cycling misses out. Athletics misses out too, the last time I checked. Fans of most sports usually will have to deal with the dreaded time of year that their beloved pastime goes away, usually for at least a month or two. Some fans are saved by the fact they can simply switch hemispheres; others can alternate between international and club seasons, even if they aren’t quite the same (ask England fans). Fans of racing need not face this dilemma, every year, or ever. The lull from the Cheltenham Festival usually brings – understandably – a hangover for racing fans as we recover, for better or worse, from the events of that hallowed week in March. However, just two weeks afterwards we hit a golden period for fans of either code looking for their fix. On Satruday, for many – the Flat in England returned with the Lincoln and Spring Mile, while those who want an international fix and flavour enjoyed the Dubai World Cup card at Meydan. The Irish, not to be outdone, have a similar card at the Curragh on Sunday to kick of proceedings. Jumping fans may be alienated for a week but need not despair, as next weekend we have the Irish Grand National Festival over two days, and quick on it’s heels we have the Grand National meeting itself at Aintree. There’s then competitive meetings at Newmarket and the Curragh before the week-long bonanza that is Punchestown – and on the final Saturday of Punchestown we have the Guineas. Meanwhile there are trials for the Guineas in between, the return of many favourites, and for those who like a foreign flavour to their action, the rapidly advancing Kentucky Derby trail. The return of the Flat and National Hunt seasons brings with it plenty of debate about which season is better. One of the mainstays of that argument will be the length of time that we get to see our heroes stick around for – an argument easily won by the Jumps – although those who are looking for a season full of highlights are surely better served by the level. However, the true joy surely comes in having your cake and eating it at a time of year that is arguably more exciting and entertaining than any other for fans of both codes with the stars of the Jumps running alongside the most promising horses the Flat has to offer. The Jumps has more established top class stars that we all love each season, while we can enjoy speed and consistent top class racing on the Flat. While each has their strengths, it’s the joy of having both that makes this sport great.