We Brits love our horse racing. Of course, the best experience is when you are at the horse racing tracks cheering your horse to a win! From big events like the Grand National at Aintree to smaller ones like the historical Cartmel Races, with its nine races every year since 1856. Some horse racing tracks favour one type of racing, like Cartmel and Aintree, which are National Hunt race tracks only. Other race tracks cater for both flat and jumps. In the UK, horse racing tracks number 59 racecourses, of which 17 are multi-purpose tracks for both types of races. From Perth in Scotland to Devon in England, plus two in Northern Ireland, punters can always find a venue to watch the ‘sport of Kings’.
There are some extra-special horse racing venues that people associate with famous races and famous racehorses. Check out some of the UK famous racecourses below.
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Cheltenham has a long history of horse racing, which began in 1815 and now draws crowds of up to 68,000. The Cheltenham Festival is a big highlight of the racing fixtures, drawing horses and people from all over the world.
Aintree’s race career began in 1839. It is the site of the longest National Hunt race, the Grand National. This race offers thrilling excitement from start to finish as a large number of horses head around the track— twice. That’s 30 of the hardest jumps going. We see favourites romp home, or a complete outsider stunning everyone. This is the racecourse where anything can happen.
Famous for its Boxing Day meet, Kempton Park is the closest course to London. The all-weather floodlit track means racing fixtures occur all year round, in afternoons and early evenings. The King George V1 Chase on 26th January is very popular and was famously won by Desert Orchid four times and Kauto Star five times!
Epsom hosts another of the five Classics and is also home to the Epsom Oaks at the 2-day Investec Festival in June. The Epsom Derby is run on the first Saturday with the Oaks the day before. Why is it so exciting? This challenging course has an uphill climb, a sharp corner and an uphill finish; tough by any standard, really testing the runners’ mettle.
Doncaster offers Yorkshire’s finest racing tracks for both flat and jumps, providing 36 race meetings a year. One of these is the oldest of the races, the St Leger Stakes, which was first run in 1776. The final of the five Classics, this is also the race that could give one special horse the Triple Crown accolade. Get ready to choose your favourite in September each year.
Ascot is considered the creme-de-la-creme of British horse racing tracks. This mixed course hosts 26 days of top-class racing, and many famous racehorses have galloped to wins at these meets. In mid-summer, its premier event is Royal Ascot, which was founded in 1711 by Queen Anne. Ascot continues its close relationship with the British monarchy, who faithfully attend the meet every year.