A US Resident’s Guide To UK Horse Racing
The UK provides many of the most exciting horse races in the world, and much of that is down to the fantastic variation of horse racing the UK has to offer. The Turf Flat Season showcases world-class meetings like Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood, whilst highlights of the jumps season include the Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National Meeting from Aintree. Flat Racing also takes place on a variety of all-weather tracks, with the all-weather season culminating on Good Friday when Lingfield stages All-Weather Finals Day.
UK Racing has been a popular betting medium in many countries for many years, and the great news is that the likes of TVG and Xpressbet are now offering US Punters the chance to bet on live UK Horse Racing every day of the week.
Turf Flat Racing
The UK’s Turf Flat Racing Season traditionally kicks-off with the Lincoln Handicap in March. There are then a variety of Classic Trials which give the 3-year-olds a chance to shine before possibly participating in the first Classics of the season, the 2,000 (colts) and 1,000 Guineas (fillies). Both these 1-mile races are the first-leg of the Triple Crown for both sexes. The second-legs are The Derby and The Oaks which both take place over 1½-miles in June, whilst the third-leg for both sexes is The St Leger which takes place over 1¾-miles in September.
There are also many other exciting meetings to look forward to. The pinnacle of those is Royal Ascot in June, when horses from around the world do battle over 5 days of brilliant racing. US punters will probably be aware of the exploits of US Trainer Wesley Ward, who has conquered the Royal Ascot Meeting on many occasions with brilliant horses such as Jealous Again and Hootenanny.
US Punters will also know some of the UK’s best trainers and jockeys through their Breeders Cup exploits. Irish Trainer Aidan O’Brien has won plenty of Breeders’ Cup races and looks set for another dominant domestic season after breaking the record for most Group/Grade 1 Races won in a season last year. He also continues his association with leading English jockey Ryan Moore, and the pair may well be seen on both sides of the Atlantic with great regularity this season as they try and maintain their global dominance by winning races like the Kentucky Derby. There’s also UK Racing’s favourite jockey Frankie Dettori, and he continues his productive partnership with trainer John Gosden.
UK Turf Racing isn’t all about these prestigious races though, and you can see many less-known horses, jockeys, trainers, and owners riding in lower-class races most days of the turf season. The great variety of race courses in the UK always makes things interesting though, with a variety of flat-tracks, undulating tracks, and tracks with severe hills meaning there are many punters that adopt the horses for courses theory when betting. Racing also takes place on left-handed and right-handed tracks, whilst a few tracks even have both left-handed and right-handed bends. Some UK Tracks also have straight tracks of between 5-furlongs and 10-furlongs.
All-Weather Flat Racing
All UK flat racing once took place only on turf. However, the influence of dirt-bred sires lead to the idea that the UK should have all-weather tracks, of which there are currently six. The surfaces are very different though, with a mix of Polytrack, Tapeta, and Fibresand meaning there are a variety of all-weather track specialists. There are some high-class races on the all-weather such as the Winter Derby, however many all-weather cards are low-class affairs. This is just another interesting angle to UK Racing though, as it can often pay to follow the money as owners try and land gambles to supplement the limited prize-money on offer. Luke Morris. Oisin Murphy, and Adam Kirby are two jockeys to note on the all-weather, whilst Mick Appleby and Archie Watson fought out this season’s All-weather Trainers’ Title.
National Hunt Racing
National Hunt Racing, or jumps racing as it is often referred to, now takes place all year round. However, the main events still take place between October and Aintree. For many punters, the National Hunt season gets going at Cheltenham’s BetVictor Meeting in November, and this is followed with an excellent program of top-class weekend action up to Christmas. This includes the Ladbrokes Winter Festival, Haydock’s Betfair Chase Meeting, and Sandown’s Tingle Creek Meeting, with the prestigious King George Chase taking place over 3-miles at Kempton on Boxing Day.
There are then a number of prestigious spring festivals such as the Cheltenham Festival, Aintree’s Grand National Meeting, and the Punchestown Festival. Irish Trainers Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott are setting the bar very high at the moment. Mullins uses a variety of jockeys including Paul Townend and David Mullins, though the stable’s first-choice jockey Ruby Walsh is widely-regarded as the best jumps jockey around when injury-free. Meanwhile, Gordon Elliott has helped Davy Russell to become Ireland’s Champion Jumps Jockey this year. Richard Johnson won the British equivalent.
Meanwhile, two English trainers to watch are always Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls.
Betting on UK Horse Racing
There are many ways to bet on UK Horse Racing. This includes tote-pools which are very similar to the way bets are placed on US Horse Racing. These odds are usually displayed as decimal odds, with dividends determined by how much money is bet on each horse in the race. Decimal odds are also used by many betting exchanges that take bets on UK Racing.
Many bookmakers also offer fixed-odds betting, which means that punters take the odds that are on display at the time of placing their bets. Odds in UK horse racing are usually displayed as fractions, such as 2/1, with this being the equivalent of 3.0 in decimal odds. US Punters can now place a variety of bets on UK Horse racing using Xpressbet and TVG.
Due to the global broadcasting of events, many phrases used to describe horse racing terminology are used all over the world. However, below are a few that terms that differ slightly in the UK to the US.
Unplaced – Also Ran
Early Prices – Approximates
2-Year-Old Race – Baby Race
The far side of the track – backstretch
Whip – Stick
An uneasy favourite – Bismarck
Apprentice Rider – Bug Boy
A horse that likes to come from off the pace – Closer
Outsider – Longshot
Stewards Enquiry/Objection – Protest
Commentator – Race Caller