Horse racing has sat at the heart of British sporting enjoyment for centuries and its courses represent thriving hubs of history and tradition.
From King Charles II winning the inaugural Newmarket Town Plate in 1666 to the internationally acclaimed Cheltenham Festival which draws hundreds of thousands of race goers each year, the courses are as central to the legacy of horse racing as the horses are themselves. This week, Betting Gods bears this mantle of tradition with a guide to Britain’s most prestigious race courses.
Established in 1711, Ascot Racecourse stands as one of the most revered racecourses in the country and plays home to nine of the UK’s 32 Group 1 races each year. When it comes to tradition, there are very few, if any, sporting events which can rival Royal Ascot. As well as being regularly attended by well over 300,000 spectators each year, the Berkshire course also welcomes the Queen and many other prominent members of the royal family during the Royal Ascot week. There’s also a pretty unforgettable beer festival at Royal Ascot each year which comes highly recommended…
Debates still rage regarding the first horse races in York, mainly because there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that the Romans were racing around Knavesmire long before the first grandstand was built in 1754. Either way, it now stands as Britain’s third largest race course and stages the annual Ebor Festival each year in August with the world famous Ebor Handicap as the headline event. For the pub quizzers out there, the name was taken from the Roman name for York – Eboracum.
It’s impossible to talk about the most prestigious racecourses in Britain without taking a good look at Cheltenham – a course that has given so many great memories to race fans all over the world. All of the 13 Grade 1 races held at the track are done so during the world famous Cheltenham Festival in March, an event which draws hundreds of thousands of spectators each year who have been lucky enough to witness some of jump racing’s greatest triumphs.
Horse racing fan or not, you’ll be hard pushed to find someone that hasn’t heard of Glorious Goodwood – the annual spectacular and home to the Sussex and Nassau Stakes Group 1 races. The beautiful setting was originally launched as a racecourse to accommodate the local officers who enjoyed a bit of flat racing, although it took on renewed popularity in 1802. The Duke of Richmond romped home as a winner in the first ever two day meeting having saved the course from almost certain closure the year before, although was later defeated by a young King George IV on day three.
As the home of the world famous Epsom Derby, Epsom Downs (to give it the full title) is a 120,000 capacity venue which has seen some of the greatest thoroughbreds in British racing pass over its’ hallowed turf. The earliest confirmed race at Epsom came in 1661 although there are plenty of documents which suggest organised racing events were happening far earlier.
The Oaks and The Derby make up the two Group 1 races at Epsom, although the racecourse was also the scene of Emily Davison’s tragic death, the suffragette who threw herself in front of King George V’s horse in 1913, and is remembered each year on Derby day.
So there you have it – a handy introduction to the great race courses littered throughout the UK, setting the standard for horse racing around the globe. With the flat season now well and truly upon us, look out for tips across Epsom, Goodwood, York and Ascot throughout the summer from BettingGods.com!