Memories of Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown linger in the memory as we are starved of top class action over the obstacles and yearn for the Autumn. It is true to say that we will have to wait until October time to see the return of the proper part of the season and with it the stars of our sport, but long gone are the days of the summer being derelict of top class action.
The flat rightfully takes centre stage during the long days of June, July and August but there are one or two moments of respite for those of us who prefer our racing in the darkest depths of winter.
An increase in prize money and focus has seen the summer jumping game improve over the past ten years with a number of shrewd tracks spotting a gap in the market for trainers and owners willing to run their horses during the hottest months on the calendar. That, unsurprisingly, has lead to an increase in the quality of races that punters can take in during that traditionally quiet period and there are now some key stopping points for national hint enthusiasts to mark down on the calendars whilst we wait for the leaves on the trees to start dropping off their branches.
We pick out three top class races for your diary this summer...
Summer Plate Day at Market Rasen received a significant boost in prize money in 2018 and that has seen the quality of the race shoot up as expected. The listed race over 2m5f has always been a decent contest in the summer at the Lincolnshire track but with backers 188 Bet now supporting the card from a financial point of view, it has become a genuine target for some of the biggest names in the sport.
More Buck's was an excellent winner of the race last year and we can expect a strong field this time - make a note in your diary for the Market Rasen feature.
Galway Plate - Galway - 31st July 2019
Those in the industry have long known the importance of the Galway Festival both as a sporting and a social occasion but the wider world may still need reminding that the seven-day spectacular remains a fantastic event.
The Galway Plate is the feature for the jumpers with the 2m6f affair a massive race in its own right as well as being a big pointer to the future. 2017 winner Balko Des Flos went on to win the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham the same season which highlights just how much quality is on show at Ballybrit each summer.
Galway Hurdle - Galway - 1st Aug 2019
We have to mention the Galway Hurdle as well in this section with the 2m handicap hurdle the co-main event of the aforementioned Galway Festival. Like the Plate, the Galway Hurdle is hugely popular in Ireland with the race stretching back to 1913 in terms of history and prestige.
Last year's winner Sharjah would end up adding two Grade 1 races to his CV having won the Galway Hurdle and few would be surprised if we saw another high class victor this season, ensuring this is another one not to be missed.