A Guide to the Racing Events of the UK
A Guide to the Racing Events of the UK
Horseracing has been in the British blood for centuries. Even if they do not usually follow the sport, people still turn out in their droves for the races and follow them closely online. Here are some of the most prestigious racing events in the British calendar and what you can expect to see at them.
The Grand National
The Grand National is a steeplechase, a race where jockeys and horses have to jump obstacles like fences and ditches, and it is run over a distance of approximately four miles. It is one of the most prominent events in British culture, attracting attention and wagering from those who don’t usually follow sports or engage in sports betting.
It also has the biggest prize pot in European jump racing with a prize of £1 million in 2017. There are a number of memorable features to the course like the Chair, the Water Jump, and the Canal Turn. It has been running since 1839 and has been broad cast since 1927 on the radio and 1960 on the television.
The Royal Ascot
The Royal Ascot is an event which takes place at the Ascot racecourse in June and July and it is one of the most prestigious events in the British calendar. It dates back to 1711 and is highly attended every year. Unlike the Grand National, it is a flat race of up to 3 miles.
The Queen and other members of the Royal Family regularly attend and arrive at the course by horse-drawn carriage. Entry to the Royal Enclosure is extremely difficult, especially if you are making a first-time application, and the dress code is strict. Men must wear morning dress and a top hat while women must wear a day dress of suitable length and modesty (with no bare shoulders or midriffs) plus a hat. In particular, Ladies Day at the Royal Ascot is often looked upon with some eagerness in the British press as a chance to see what people are wearing.
In fact, it is more common to see more enthusiastic coverage of the celebrities and notable people in attendance, plus the various fashion statements made by these guests and members of the public, compared to the actual results of the races.
The Epsom Derby (often known as the Derby) is another flat race and is often referred to as one of Britain’s greatest sporting events. The original race was named in honour of its host, the 12th Earl of Derby. It has been run at Epsom for all its years except during the years of the world wars when it went to Newmarket. The name “Derby” has also inspired many similar races all around the world including the Kentucky Derby and the Australian Derby.
The races are split across two days; a Ladies’ Day and a Derby Day. In addition to the prizes awarded to the races, the best-dressed lady of Ladies’ Day can walk away with £5000. There are also often events going on outside of the racetrack itself. Since the 19th century, a fair has offered entertainment to the public between races. Nowadays, the Hillside Enclosure is one of the best places for you to grab some fun with games, carnival activities, and delicious food.
The Cheltenham Races are one of the earliest dates in the British Racing Calendar and take place at Prestbury Park near Cheltenham. The other races on our list attract a big international audience but the Cheltenham Races tend to be attended mainly by British and Irish race lovers. In particular, Irish race-fans love to attend Cheltenham since the dates of the races usually align somewhat closely with St Patrick’s Day; allowing for a full celebration of fun. It is a steeplechase, like the Grand National, and has a prize pot only surpassed by the Grand National too.
One of the strongest characteristics of the Cheltenham Races is the shout which goes out at the start of the festival. Known as the Cheltenham Roar, this is a great noise the spectators make when the starter raises the tape on the very first race of the festival.
This race is also one of the festivals which attracts a massive amount of gambling. It is particularly well-loved by the British gambling population with millions of pounds changing hands in wagers before the week is out. It is a British racing event through and through; with even most of the competing horses being bred by French stables. Having been a part of the British social calendar since 1860, we can expect it to go nowhere.
Why Do the Brits Love Racing?
Horse racing has often been referred to as the sport of kings and no-one could deny our country’s love for both the game and the animals. British Horse Racing is even the second biggest spectator sport in the UK and this statistic is unlikely to change any time soon. It is a sport which has been loved by the aristocracy and the common people for centuries and has also attracted international attention. This has cemented the UK as one of the great horse breeding nations of the world and, together with Ireland, we have produced some amazing jockeys too.
What’s more, we have turned something as simple as a race into a pageant of fashion, food and fun. Anyone visiting the races is in for an amazing time as they get to view a slice of British culture at its finest. The races are one of the best things for bringing together Brits of all backgrounds; even those who are not interested in racing in the rest of the year.
Between the Grand National, the Derby, the Royal Ascot, and the Cheltenham Races, it is clear that we have an amazing talent and history when it comes to racing horses. Take a look at some of the contenders racing in the festivals this year and maybe put in a bet if you feel lucky. Who knows what could happen?