Horse Racing Events YouShould Go to see in the UK

You don’t have to be a particular fan of horseracing to know the special place that it holds in the UK’s culture and sporting scene. Even the most sports-averse individuals will know that there are certain events that attract lots of coverage, with headlines focussing on some of the most high-profile races in the annual calendar.

One of the key racing events of the year is the Cheltenham Festival, a key event in the National Hunt’s racing calendar. The festival usually lasts four days and includes a number of different events with crowds of thousands flocking to Gloucestershire in order to enjoy the action.

(Cheltenham Racecourse Virtual Tour)

The timing of the Cheltenham Festival usually coincides with St Patrick’s Day, and combined with the popularity of horse racing in Ireland, it attracts a lot of visitors from Ireland as well as everywhere else in the world. So large are the crowds that the festival has become famous for the phenomenon known as the ‘Cheltenham roar’ which describes the noise from the crowd when the first race begins.

Some of the races that take place at the Cheltenham Festival include:

  • Cheltenham Gold Cup
  • Stayers’ Hurdle
  • Queen Mother Champion Chase
  • Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Race
  • Mares’ Hurdle Race
  • Cross Country Steeple Chase
  • Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup
  • Triumph Hurdle
  • Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Steeple Chase
  • County Handicap Hurdle Race

With a prize pot that is only surpassed by the Grand National, it’s no wonder that the Cheltenham Festival draws crowds of more than 250,000 annually, with millions watching the televised events. It is one of the primary horse racing betting opportunities on the calendar and owners, jockeys, and punters all hope to make their fortunes during the course of the long weekend.

The Grand National

The prize pot on offer at the Cheltenham Festival is second only to the UK’s biggest event of the racing calendar – the Grand National. With more than £1 million to be won, the stakes are high and more than 150,000 people attend every year with an audience of nearly 9 million watching the race on television.

The Grand National is one of the most popular events on the calendar, even among those who do not normally bet on horse racing, with millions of people placing bets on their favourites. It is a handicap steeplechase event that features some of the most famous fences in horse racing, including:

  • Westhead
  • Becher’s Brook
  • Foinavon
  • Valentine’s Brook
  • The Chair
  • Canal Turn

While many of the jumps were named after jockeys or race officials, Foinavon was named after one of the most surprising winners in the race’s history. With odds of 100/1, Foinavon was nowhere near the favourite at the starting line in the 1967 race, but a pile-up at the fence now named after him saw him jump clear and win, much to some punters’ delight.

The Grand National was first run at its current location in Aintree in 1839, and although there have been changes to the race over its lifetime, the spirit of the event has consistently attracted fans for nearly two centuries. Only a few races come close to the popularity of the Grand National, one of which is Royal Ascot.

Royal Ascot

Royal Ascot is not only a racing event, but it’s also considered one of the most popular social events of the year, with the guest list comprising a who’s who of the social elite and hundreds of column inches devoted to its attendees. Held in Berkshire, Ascot is one of the racing calendar’s most popular events, attracting crowds of more than 600,000 people, including members of the Royal Family and accounting for more than 10% of all race attendees over the year.

Some of the most famous races held at Royal Ascot include:

  • Coventry Stakes
  • Wolferton Stakes
  • Queen’s Vase
  • Windsor Castle Stakes
  • Royal Hunt Cup
  • Ribblesdale Stakes
  • Britannia Stakes
  • Commonwealth Cup
  • Hardwicke Cup
  • Sandringham Stakes

As well as some of the most prestigious races on the calendar, Royal Ascot has seen some of the most astounding wins in betting history as well. Despite promising his wife that he wouldn’t, Darren Yates decided to take one final punt on his favourite jockey and wagered £67.58 on Frankie Detorri to win in all seven of his races on Queen Elizabeth II Stakes Day at Ascot in 1996.

When Detorri confounded expectations and came in first in every race, Darren Yates walked away with £550,823, beating odds of 25,000/1. Yates then went on to buy Interconnected, the most expensive jumps horse ever to be purchased at a public auction.

There is a reason that horseracing is known as the sport of kings in the UK: it has a long and esteemed history of appealing to the aristocracy and elite, but it also has the capacity to turn around the fortunes of any punter who chooses to place a bet on a potential winner.

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