Top five race meetings in the UK
The Cheltenham Festival
Prestbury Park is known as the home of jumps racing and the Cheltenham Festival is the most prestigious event on the National Hunt calendar. On every day of the four day meeting, there is a whole host of historic prizes up for grabs – enough to keep the 60,000 strong crowd of onlookers entertained, whether they turn up on the opening Tuesday or the final Friday.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup draws the curtain on the Festival – a race where the biggest and best long distance chasers in the world battle it out against one another, all fighting for the fabled Gold Cup trophy and the biggest prize pot on offer on the jumps racing schedule. For any jumps racing enthusiast, a day spent at the Cheltenham Festival must sit very highly on their bucket list and Cheltenham Festival tickets sell out rapidly.
The Grand National Festival at Aintree
There are plenty of big races during the first few days of the Aintree Festival – in total, there are ten Grade 1 prize pots up for grabs, including the Melling Chase, the Topham and Betfred bowl.
However, every subsequent race is mere build up to the showpiece event of the meeting, the most iconic steeplechase in the sport – the Grand National.
The Grand National is one of the biggest betting events on the sporting stratosphere. It’s the ultimate test of a horses jumping, a stiff examination of stamina and the most profitable handicap race in horse racing. A win in this most dramatic, romantic of races ensures a horse’s place in the record books and in the heart of any punter lucky enough to back them.
The bet365 Festival
Grand National aside, the Hennessy Gold Cup is the most popular handicap race on the National Hunt scene and always draws in a capacity crowd of passionate fans to Newbury’s state-of-the-art racecourse. All-time greats like Arkle, Denman and Mandarin have come to Newbury in search of Hennessy glory, making it one of the most sought-after prizes in the early season schedule.
Obviously, the Hennessy Gold Cup is the centrepiece of the entire meeting, but there are plenty of mouth-watering contests to keep the capacity crowds happy – the Worcester and Berkshire Chases have been attracting some of the best novice chasers around for decades and the Long Distance Hurdle has been a key trial for any World Hurdle hopefuls, looking to pave a path towards Cheltenham.
Tingle Creek Christmas Festival
The two-day Tingle Creek meeting at Sandown always draws in an excitable crowd and a high quality battalion of entrants, all hoping to come away from the meeting with a memorable win. The Grade 2 Winter Hurdle is the highlight of Friday’s action. Saturday’s card gets into full stride with the Henry VIII Chase, an ideal opportunity for a first season chaser to get their hands on a Grade 1 prize and the perfect prelude to the race the festival is named after. The Tingle Creek Chase has been one of the most popular fixtures on the jumping calendar since its inaugural run in 1979. Some of the sport’s greatest names, like Desert Orchid, Moscow Flyer, Sprinter Sacre and Kauto Star have all left Sandown with the Tingle Creek prize, with many of them going on to repeat that success at the Cheltenham Festival three months later.
32Red Winter Festival
The magnificent Kempton racecourse hosts the tradition Winter jumps Festival, with racing enthusiasts – still full up with turkey and mulled wine from the day before – all flocking to South West London to watch some of the best horses wage war with one another. The Feltham Novices’ Chase and the Christmas Hurdle – both highly sought-after prizes in their own right – provide the ideal build up to the King George VI Chase, which is one of the most celebrated prizes in racing, outside of the Cheltenham Festival, and also serves as the key trial for any hopeful challengers looking to show off their Gold Cup credentials. There are other notable races over the following few days of the Winter Festival, but the opening card really is the one you want to witness. Could you think of a better way to spend your Boxing Day afternoon?
The editorial unit