Horse racing is an intrinsic part of English high society, with The Royal Ascot and Cheltenham Festival standing proud as two of the most important events on a socialite’s calendar. And whilst our tabloid newspapers and royal journalists like to focus on the high-end fashion and lifestyle that surrounds these events, they actually showcase some of the most prestigious horse racers the country has to offer.
In fact, the sport employs more than 85,000 people in the UK, generating around £3 billion for the British economy. If you socialise in high circles or simply want to see some of the finest sportsmen in action, here is a roundup of all of the most esteemed horse racing events to attend in the UK.
The Royal Ascot
When it comes to the prestige of The Royal Ascot, the clue’s in the name. It’s attended by the royal family and each day begins with a lavish royal procession. The family can be seen watching the day’s events from the Royal Enclosure.
And it’s not just the royal family who plan their summer around it. The week-long event sees over 300,000 visitors each year flock to Ascot Racecourse, all of whom come to watch 500 horses compete for the coveted trophy and are in with the chance to win millions in prize money.
The home to some of the world’s finest flat racing, the Epsom Downs welcomes the Epsom Derby every summer. The flat horse-shoe racecourse requires precision and perfect balance, only allowing 3-year-old horses to participate. In 1913, the racecourse made history when activist Emily Davison staged a protest at the event, running out in front of the King’s horse and, unfortunately, dying from her injuries.
Most recently Epsom was featured in the addictive TV series Peaky Blinders. If you fancy spending a day at this historic site and living your 1920s fantasy, the racecourse is easily accessible via train from London to Epsom. Pull your glad rags on and make a day of it!
Every March, some of the finest jockeys, horses and trainers congregate in Cheltenham for Cheltenham Festival. It is scheduled to coincide with St Patrick’s Day, so it is no surprise that this festival is known for putting on endless entertainment alongside standout racing, from DJs and live music to shops selling the finest wares.
The Grand National
Last but not least is The Grand National. The jump racecourse challenges competitors to 4.5 miles of high fences, most of which prove too difficult – in fact, only 60% of entrants complete the course. An event full of racing spectacle, like Cheltenham it also has plenty of other entertainment as you walk around the racecourse.