The Most Prestigious Horse Racing Festivals in the UK - The Evesham Observer

The Most Prestigious Horse Racing Festivals in the UK

Evesham Editorial 6th Apr, 2023   0

In UK sport, there’s nothing quite like a horse racing festival.

They bring together tens of thousands of spectators and some of the planet’s finest thoroughbreds, trainers and jockeys. Britain is blessed to play host to some of the biggest horse racing festivals in the annual calendar, with Cheltenham Festival arguably the most renowned. Dubbed by many as the ‘World Cup of Jumps Racing’, Cheltenham Festival features four days packed with Grade 1 races. With so many competitive fields, it’s no surprise that punters look for help ahead of these big meetings. The so-called ‘Pundit’s Pundit’, Andy Holding, is one of the festival’s leading tipsters due to the level of detail he gives in his selections, even using speed ratings and sectional times to pick prospects.

In this article, we’ll go into greater detail about the history of the Cheltenham Festival and the story behind the other headline horse racing festivals in Britain. You can rest assured there will be plenty of promotions to take advantage of before and during these festivals, which is music to the ears of Matched Bets users.

Cheltenham Festival: Dating back to the 19th century

The National Hunt Chase was first staged in 1860 at Market Harborough in Leicestershire. It was held at both Market Harborough and Warwick Racecourse until 1904, when Cheltenham’s new Prestbury Park produced the chase for successive years.

Thanks to significant investment, the chase became a permanent fixture at Prestbury Park from 1911, and the rest is history.

Cheltenham Festival has since expanded its racecards, beginning with the Stayers’ Hurdle in 1912, the Gold Cup in 1924 and the Champion Hurdle in 1927.

Today, it’s home to 28 high-level races, staged daily across four meetings. Nothing eclipses the Cheltenham Festival for atmosphere, with the iconic “Cheltenham roar” proving a big feature.

The Grand National Festival: Home to Europe’s most valuable jumps race

The Grand National Festival is a three-day event staged at the Aintree Racecourse in Merseyside, Lancashire.

The headline race of the festival is the Randox Grand National, the four-mile, 514-yard steeplechase over 30 fences. It’s arguably the stiffest test in horse racing and the richest jump race in the sport, carrying a prize purse of £1m (with £561,300 of this going to the winner in 2023’s race).

The Grand National is home to some of the most fearsome fences in horse racing. The Chair, Becher’s Brook and the Canal Turn are all stiff tests of bravery and stamina for horses and jockeys alike.

You can be sure of plenty of Grade 1 action on the other two days of the festival. The second day is usually Ladies’ Day, which is full of fashion and vibrant colours.

The Epsom Derby Festival: The birthplace of the ‘Blue Riband of the Turf’

The Epsom Derby Festival is a famous two-day festival staged in early June.

Day One is Ladies’ Day, with a racecard that contains the third of the five ‘Classics’ of the flat racing season, the Epsom Oaks, which features the best three-year-old fillies in flat racing today.

There’s also the Group 1 Coronation Cup, which offers guaranteed drama.

Twenty-four hours later, the festival wakes up to Derby Day. The Epsom Derby is considered by many to be the world’s finest flat race, and it’s also one of the oldest races, dating back to 1780. The Derby is the middle leg of the so-called ‘Triple Crown’, involving the 2000 Guineas and the St Leger at Doncaster.

Royal Ascot: Over £3.5m in prize money up for grabs

Royal Ascot is the most regal horse racing festival of the year. It trumps Cheltenham as the longest festival in the UK horse racing season, being staged across five days in mid-June.

The Tuesday begins with three Group 1 contests, including the Queen Anne Stakes, and the Wednesday includes the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes. The Thursday is unofficially known as Ladies’ Day, with the iconic Gold Cup proving the highlight of the racing in the middle day of the festival.

The Friday welcomes the best three-year-old fillies in the Coronation Stakes while the most promising sprinters enter the Commonwealth Cup. Saturday is the festival’s final day, with the Group 1 Platinum Jubilee Stakes accruing a prize purse of £1m.

As a British horse racing fan or punter, you’re spoilt for choice for racing festivals during spring and summer.


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