The UK is home to some of the best racecourses in the world: Ascot, Newmarket and Cheltenham. The most iconic races are widely attended by people from all over the world, royalty and celebrities included. Here are a few of the top races that are a must see for thoroughbred horse racing enthusiasts.
The richest horse race in Britain, the Investec Derby (Derby Stakes) takes place on the first Saturday in June at Epsom Downs in Surrey. Named after the 12th Earl of Derby, the race was run for the first time in 1780. It’s considered a classic for 3-year-olds and is run over 2,420 metres (1 mile, 4 furlongs and 6 yards). The Epsom Fair has been associated with the event for many years. The fair runs for 3 to 4 days prior to the actual race and is a great occasion for a family outing.
The Grand National
The Grand National is a handicap steeplechase event run over 6,907 metres (4 miles and 514 yards). It features two laps and 30 fences. This is a hunt horse race — the fences are higher than those found on most other National hunt tracks. This horse race has been around since 1829 and has featured horses owned by the British Royal Family as well as celebrities.
Cheltenham Gold Cup
Another National Hunt horse race, this one takes place over 5,331 metres (3 miles and 2.5 furlongs) at the Cheltenham Racecourse. This race is restricted to horses over 5 years of age and is a non-handicap race. This hunt horse race has been around since 1819. It was originally a flat race, but it became a jump race in 1924 and has since become a 4 day festival which coincides with St. Patrick’s Day, making it a favourite among Irish as well as British patrons.
The Ascot Gold Cup
The Gold Cup run at Ascot is a flat race over 4,023m (2 miles, 4 furlongs) for horses over 4 years old. It’s held in June every year and forms part of The Royal Ascot. The racecourse at Ascot was founded by Queen Anne in 1711 and is still attended by the British Royal family every year. If you are a fan of horses and royalty, this is a race you shouldn’t miss. Part of the fun of horse racing is betting — you can Bet on Ascot Races online at William Hill – Prince of Wales Stakes.
More than a sport, horse racing in the UK offers you a wonderful experience you won’t forget anytime soon. Whether you live in the UK or are merely passing through the country, seeing a horse race is an opportunity to fall in love with a sport you may have never followed before.