Horse Racing’s biggest events

Photo © Mathew Schwartz

Horse racing is the United Kingdom’s second biggest spectator sport and has been practised since Roman times and generates over 3 billion pounds every year. It has hundreds and hundreds of events every year, but some are far bigger than others, and in this list, we will explore some of horse racing’s biggest events.

Cheltenham Festival

The Cheltenham Festival began in 1860 and has been going ever since, changing name and location a few times in its history. It was first called the Grand National Hunt Meeting and was held in Warwick for a long time before moving to Cheltenham. Usually taking place over Saint Patrick’s Day, it is even more popular with Irish horse racing fans than regular fans, and it has the second most prize money in all the country’s races.

It features the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the Champion Hurdle, the Queen Mother Champion Chase, and the Stayers’ Hurdle, which are all Grade 1 races, meaning that they are some of the most prestigious races there are in all of the calendar.

Being one of the most famous festivals of the calendar, a lot of betting takes place on these races, and in recent years this figure has always been in the hundreds of millions of pounds.

Betting companies like Findbettingsites or Bet365 offer very good offers for these types of horse racing festivals, and Cheltenham is no different. In 2020 for example, a few companies gave their customers free bets to place on the racing, totally exempt from wagering requirements, and the lucky customers could have a flutter for free, in the hopes that they would then place more bets.

Cheltenham is also known for the Cheltenham roar, the shout that goes up from the crowd as the first race begins. It is famous for a reason and is often deafening, and is something that everyone should behold in their lives.

Grand National

The Grand National is a handicap steeplechase race held in Aintree, near Liverpool, every year since 1839. In 2017, the prize money was worth one million pounds, making it the race with the most prize money in all of the United Kingdom.

Over four miles long, it is a race that attracts international attention even from non-horse racing fans. Simply the name Grand National explains its importance, and it has become a part of British culture outside of horse racing, similar to the importance of the Monaco Grand Prix to Monaco culture.

Its fences are much larger than you would see in other races of its type which adds to its thrill and its hype. A lot of wagering is done on this race, both in person and online, with companies often offering ridiculously good value deals, such as risk-free cash-back bets of up to twenty pounds or matching the value of your bets for free bets.

The 2020 version was unfortunately cancelled due to the Coronavirus, but it was replaced by a virtual event. This can obviously not replicate the real event, with the crowd dressed in their fanciest clothes and clamouring for their favourite horses, with the weather conditions, but it still attracted a considerable number of bets.

Royal Ascot

This horse racing event surpasses the sport displayed. Taking place at Ascot, since June 1911, the whole week of races has been attended by at least one member of the Royal Family. The Royal Procession takes place every day, and since she has been in power, Queen Elizabeth II always arrives in a beautiful horse drawn carriage.

Thanks to this, it becomes a very mediatised affair, with various celebrities going every year, and their outfits are often highlighted in the tabloids. The racing is still very much at the forefront of events however, with many races taking place over the week, including Grade 1 races. Grade 1 races are the highest possible level, with all the horses needing to be similar weight, allowing for gender and age.

Over 300,000 spectators visit Ascot for the week, and a lot of money is wagered at the actual race courses, but the offers are also very common for this week, therefore online betting also generates a lot of volume in terms of money wagered. At events like these, it is common that you either lose all your money that you had put away for the festival, or you might be lucky enough to hit the jackpot with a couple of picks and have your next holiday paid for!