There’s nothing quite like a day of the races, hearing the hooves rattle, soaking up the atmosphere, placing a bet and enjoying the feast of food and drink.
The UK is blessed with some fantastic festivals, meetings and days out across the country and here we take a look at five great racing breaks.
There isn’t a sporting event in the calendar that can compare to the pageantry and glamour of Royal Ascot. It’s no surprise that spectators come from all over the world, as do the horses and jockeys, to be part of the Berkshire extravaganza.
It’s a spectacle of exceptional racing, high fashion and fine dining at Royal Ascot, which takes place between 20th-24th of June 2023.
The event gets underway on Tuesday and the opening day offers punters a chance to pick a winner on a six-race card that features the high-class Queen Anne, King’s Stand and St James’s Palace stakes.
It’s all the fun of the fair, with space to get around, elite-level racing and Royal Ascot Tuesday is without doubt one of the highlights of the flat season.
Travel tip – those traveling by train from London can avoid the crowds at Waterloo, by heading to Paddington, catching the rattler to Reading and changing for an Ascot service.
Grand National Aintree
The sun is breaking cover as we move into spring for April’s Aintree festival and there is nothing quite like the spectacle of the Grand National. The world’s most famous race is watched by millions around the world, but being in Liverpool and soaking up the unique atmosphere, anticipation and excitement cannot be compared.
The wonderful city of Liverpool gets fully behind the day and the friendly vibe of the spectators isn’t replicated at many other major race days. The tough task is picking the winner from the 40-strong field.
Epsom Derby and Oaks
The first week of June is a classic weekend with the Oaks and Derby being run at Epsom. Taking place on Friday June 2 and Saturday June 3, the Oaks and Derby bring together some of the pageantry of Royal Ascot, but with a slightly more relaxed and welcoming atmosphere and they deliver the top three-year-old colts and fillies from Europe, and sometimes further afield.
With a funfair in the middle of the track, and the famous open-top buses lining the course, watch out for the popping of Champagne corks as you enjoy the festivities.
It’s hard to pick out a single day from the Cheltenham festival as they all offer top-level jumps action, but with the excitement of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the Arkle and the Champion Hurdle, Tuesday is a feast of action for National Hunt racing fans.
Yes, there are queues at the bar and the crowds are swarm-like at the Cleeve Hill venue, but no Festival in racing builds anticipation and atmosphere quite like Cheltenham and for pure racing fans and punters, this is not an event to be missed.
Away from Royal Ascot, Champions Day offers a fantastic day out the Berkshire track. Held in October, it’s a thrilling finale to the British Flat season, which features six world class races, including four Group 1s and £4 million in prize money up for grabs.
It’s top-level racing, with all the facilities of the world-leading Ascot racecourse, but with a little less fanfare compared to the royal meeting. It’s perfect for those who want to watch some of the world’s best thoroughbreds, in fantastic surroundings and still have time to get between the parade ring and betting jungle.