The J.J. Houlahan Jumps Championship was introduced in 2006 as a series encompassing the 16 premier jumps races conducted in Victoria and South Australia.
Now in its 14th year, the J.J. Houlahan Jumps Championship encompasses the 16 premier hurdle and steeplechase events in Victoria and South Australia between March and August.
The $2.51 million series is named in honour of Australian Racing Hall of Fame inductee, Jim Houlahan, who is considered the doyen of Australian jumps racing.
Houlahan trained the winners of eight Australian Hurdles and seven Grand National Hurdles and was highly respected by his fellow trainers, jockeys, the media and racing administrators. He retired from training in 2005 – at the age of 92 – and passed away on 4 April 2007.
The Championship celebrates the horse, trainer and jockey who accumulate the most points – which are issued on a 12-8-6-4-2 basis – across races carrying at least $100,000 in prize money.
The popular series commences with the $100,000 Von Doussa Steeplechase (3250m) in April at South Australia's Oakbank racecourse. The series then continues at Oakbank over the Easter weekend where there has been a major overhaul of the racing schedule which now sees the $160,000 Great Eastern Steeplechase (4950m) headline the Easter Saturday meeting supported by the $100,000 Classic Hurdle (3600m).
The J.J. Houlahan Jumps Championship then moves to Victoria for the TAB Warrnambool May Racing Carnival where three races form part of the series; the $150,000 Brierly Steeplechase (3450m), the $150,000 Galleywood Hurdle (3200m) and the $350,000 Grand Annual Steeplechase (5500m).
The series then heads to Ladbrokes Park Sandown for the $125,000 Australian Hurdle (3900m) and $125,000 Australian Steeplechase (3900m). The series then returns to Warrnambool for the $100,000 Kevin Lafferty Hurdle (3200m) and $100,000 Thackeray Steeplechase (3450m).
Pakenham then hosts its part in the series with the $100,000 Mosstrooper Steeplechase (3500m) and the $100,000 Brendan Drechsler Hurdle over 3500m.
The championship continues with the $250,000 Grand National Hurdle (4200m) and $125,000 Crisp Steeplechase (4200m) at Ladbrokes Park Sandown.
Sportsbet Ballarat will again host the conclusion of the series in August with a program featuring no less than six jumps races. The feature races on this day are the $350,000 Grand National Steeplechase (4500m) and the $125,000 J J Houlahan Hurdle (3200m).