The UK is home to some of the world’s most renowned horse racing events, with champion racers, trainers, and horses coming from all corners of the sovereign country. These events provide a chance for Brits to dress their best and have a booze-up with friends while watching some of the greatest moments in UK racing unfold right before them. According to a recent study, 97% of the money spent on gambling sites in Britain is done on horse racing, which equates to over £4 billion spent by punters each year.
Anyone can enjoy a day at the races since the most popular meetings are located at various racecourses across England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, and many are enriched in centuries of history. Shocking comebacks, outstanding victories, and star-studded careers adorn the tracks at many of Great Britain’s popular racecourses, where many of the world’s legendary jockeys forged their careers. Keep reading to learn more about these racecourses and why they’re so popular.
It’s fair to say that the Royal Ascot, of all the events, is no ordinary day at the races. Royals, the celebrity elite, and even Queen Elizabeth herself makes an appearance at the week-long event each June. Whether you’re there for the racing or to check out the craziest hats on show, the Royal Ascot event at Ascot racecourse has something for everyone.
The event is enriched in history and has been a longstanding favorite of the monarchs for over 300 years. It was built back in 1711 under orders from Queen Anne and has grown to attract some of the greatest contenders in horse racing, all competing for a share of a massive £8 million purse. The most notable event during the week is the Gold Cup, of course. In 2016, more than £6.5 million was claimed in winnings across the full event, with the majority of it being placed on the Gold Cup event alone.
The Grand National
The Grand National is the favorite among problem passionate race fans and is somewhat of a national treasure in the UK. Even if you don’t enjoy the sport, office sweepstakes and one-time punts are popular for this one. The event is spread across three days and is based at the highly regarded Aintree racecourse just outside of Liverpool. The racecourse was built way back in 1829 and, after only a decade, the Grand National event was established.
With 40 horses running the big race, knowing who’ll take it home is near on impossible. Some of the greatest horses in history have competed at the Grand National and each year, millions of pounds are staked by racing fans across the country, whether they’re at the event or not. For example, last year’s big race was won by Tiger Roll, with punters placing more than £150 million on its victory in the over four-mile race, which is approximately three times the amount the jockey wins for placing first.
According to experts, around £250 million is staked at the Grand National each year, though much of this ends up in the bookies’ pocket. As fun and exciting as the event is, it does create a lot of irresistible opportunities for gambling addicts and even the most casual punters to part with their hard-earned cash. Then again, the same could probably be said for all these events.
The Cheltenham Festival
The Cheltenham Festival offers 28 exciting races spread across four days. The event was first established back in 1860 and arrived 45 years after the racecourse’s construction. The town of Cheltenham is already a textbook example of quintessential Britain, but the racecourse comes with its own sense of glitz and glamour. Its modern furnishings and cutting-edge facilities make it one of the more comfortable racecourses for people to visit and hopefully win a bit of money.
The total prize money for victory at the Cheltenham Festival is a bit less than the Grand National, with the much-anticipated Gold Cup offering jockeys a huge £350,000+ for first place. Sometimes, though, winning big at the Cheltenham Festival doesn’t even require getting on a horse, since even the smallest of stakes can bring home the biggest of returns. At the 2019 event, one man took home more than £160,000 from just a £2 bet. And that’s just one person of the nearly 70,000 that attend the meeting each year.
The Ladbrokes Trophy
The Ladbrokes Trophy is relatively new on the scene compared to other major racing events, having only been established back in 1957. Its name isn’t all too old either since it was changed from the original and likely more familiar name of the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup back in 2017. The race’s main sponsor at the time, Peggy Hennessy, won the first-ever running with her gelding stud, Mandarin, when it was first held at Cheltenham. It wasn’t until 1960, three years after the first race, that it moved from Cheltenham to its longstanding location of Newbury.
The Ladbrokes Trophy is a one-day event with a total prize purse of £250,000. First place victory in the main race usually earns the jockey around £150,000, money which has been picked up by some of the world’s most successful jockeys, like Ruby Walsh and John Francome. A horse named Many Clouds recently made history by being the first to win at both the Ladbrokes Trophy and the Grand National consecutively for two years, back in 2014 and 2015.