Horse racing is the second biggest sport in the UK based on both revenue generated and attendances. There’s no denying that many of the people in the United Kingdom consider horse racing to be a big part of the culture, and this is proven by some of the huge events that take place.
In this guide, we’re providing some of the more interesting facts and statistics regarding UK horse racing and the betting industry that surrounds the horse racing scene, helping you to understand the size and scale of the industry.
Horse racing revenue is largely generated through horse racing gambling sites in addition to the very popular events on the British calendar.
Frankel is an unbeaten British racehorse
It is worth exploring one of the true greats of British horse racing and one of the most successful horses that ever lived, managing to end a racing career with an incredible record.
Frankel is one of the most successful horses of all time, and one of the only British horses with an unbeaten record, including some exceptional titles such as the 2000 Guineas Stakes (2011), St James’s Palace Stakes (2011), Sussex Stakes (2011, 2012), Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (2011) and International Stakes (2012). Frankel was owned by Khalid Abdullah and is thought to be named after the renowned American horse racing trainer Bobby Frankel.
Horse race gambling is worth billions in the UK
Horse racing is a huge industry in the United Kingdom and studies show that it is worth billions of pounds to the economy every single year. The turnover for the industry is stunning, but only tells a part of the story.
In addition to money being placed on bets directly with the bookmakers, the industry also generates significant funds collected from people attending events and watching horse racing in person. In areas like Cheltenham where there are huge events on the racing calendar, the industry also supports subsidiary industries such as hotels and catering.
The oldest race is the Kiplingcotes Derby
The oldest race that still takes place is the Kiplingcotes Derby, which takes place in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Most consider it to be the oldest annual horse race on the English sporting calendar, and it is still going today. It is not one of the biggest events on the calendar, but it certainly highlights the history of this industry.
Most records indicate that the event began in the 1500s and has traditionally taken place on the third Thursday in March, even if the weather is adverse, which it often is at this time of the year.
This is a race with an interesting quirk too. The way they allocate the prize money means that the entry fees for the day are divided up, but due to the historic literature about the derby, the winner gets a fixed sum of £50. This means second place usually wins more than the horse that takes first place.
Royal Ascot has the highest prize fund
The British horse race with the highest prize fund is normally the Royal Ascot event, which is attended by members of the royal family and watched by millions.
The event at Royal Ascot has been held since the 1800s and is famously tied with royalty as well as the history of Britain. King George VI is another weekend meeting that is very popular at the Ascot Racecourse, but not quite as high paying as the Royal Ascot meeting.
One of the main things about the event, and arguably what it is best-known for, is that it is known to be about high fashion, with people tending to dress up for this huge event and the photos of celebrities sometimes being iconic.
The Grand National is viewed by over 600 million people
Globally, you’ll struggle to find a more widely watched horse racing event than the Grand National. In addition to being a big part of the UK’s sporting calendar, this event has a big following internationally with a lot of people betting on the outcome.
The three-day National Hunt race is the overall event, but this steeplechase race is the most popular in the event. The occasion can be very unpredictable and tends to capture the imagination of the public as outsiders sometimes manage to win this race. When Tipperary Tim won almost 100 years ago, there were bookmakers offering odds of up to 100/1 on the horse.
The attendance for this event typically exceeds 150,000 and there’s usually £1m or more offered in prize money. For a lot of trainers and jockeys, this is the highlight of the year.
Other countries have their own version of this event, so it is not to be confused with the Irish Grand National.
UK horse racing has many celebrity fans
Celebrities often attend some of the top events on the UK’s racing calendar, with the likes of Simon Cowell, Frank Lampard, Amanda Holden and even Helen Mirren all being spotted at horse racing events. There are often some glitzy VIP areas at these events, which is one of the many reasons that so many big names head to a day at the racing. Some are even known to bet big on horses, and others may have shares in horses. Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was heavily involved in the industry, and even funded certain trainers and racehorses.
Horse racing is undeniably a big part of British culture and there are hundreds of interesting facts about the history of horse racing and the overall horse racing industry. Above we’ve included some examples of facts about successful horses, and the wider industry that has been intertwined for hundreds of years with British culture. A simple look at some of the massive events that take place makes the success of the horse racing industry in the UK quite clear.