Top Festivals to Attend for Racing Fans  Compared to most sports, fans of horse racing are somewhat spoiled for choice here in the UK. There are a total of 60 British racecourses allowing those with an interest in National Hunt and Flat Racing (or both!) to enjoy top class racing action all over the country and all year around. I’ve had many an exciting day at the course most local to my location, Great Yarmouth, and I’m sure that most other racing fans will echo that sentiment about their local racecourse.


There are of course some racecourses that see more of the action, and have been host to many more famous racing moments than others. Ascot for one and of course Cheltenham, home to the Cheltenham Festival, is a racecourse that has seen many a memorable moment in the sport. Aintree racecource though is surely number one on most lists of courses and indeed races to attend though, on account that it hosts the world famous Aintee Grand National, run over 4 miles 514 yards and 30 jumps.


This much anticipated event sees Grand National betting offers, tips, news and views come to the fore. The Grand National is one of the most watched sporting events on the planet, with UK TV audiences approaching nine million, and worldwide figures of some 600 million viewers. For context the US centric Superbowl typically draws around 120 million viewers, as does the UEFA Champions League Final. Only the World Cup final audience, at around 900 million viewers, eclipses the event. On course attendance over the three days can reach 150,000. Many horses, jockeys and trainers have made a name for themselves off the back of their Grand National success. Red Rum and co ascended to racing royalty as result of winning this big money event first held in 1939 (with a prize pot of £3.2 million for the Festival and £1million for the main event in 2018).


The 2019 Grand National race will take place on Saturday 6th April on Grand National Day. The Grand National festival itself spans from 4th – 6th of April. Early tips for horses in the running for the 2019 title include Grand National 2018 winner Tiger Roll and last year’s runner up Pleasant Company.


The other main UK racing festival that many class as unmissable is the four day Cheltenham Festival, held in March of each year at the Cheltenham racecourse in Gloucestershire. On course attendance reaches a staggering 250,000+ over the course of the four days, with the first race commencing with a ‘Cheltenham Roar’ from the attending masses, an unforgotable on course experience. With group one events like the Champion Hurdle on day one, Queen Mother Champion Chase on day two and Stayers Hurdle on day three, racing fans are captivated throughout. Friday’s Cheltenham Gold Cup is the main event, with prize money approaching £600,000. Much like the reputation of the Grand National, winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup is a legend maker, as we can see with two time winner Kauto Star and three time winner Best Mate.

Roaring Lion Will Continue Dominance At British Champion Stakes

Source: RacingPost via Twitter


Roaring Lion won the Irish Champions Stakes with a brilliant performance to beat out his rival Saxon Warrior to claim the crown. John Gosden will now turn the attention of his charge to the British Champion Stakes to end the season on the highest of notes at Ascot.

It has been a campaign of two halves as the American horse struggled in the early stages of the term, but has come to life to become the dominant competitor over ten furlongs. Cracksman, Enable and Crystal Ocean will be vying to knock the grey colt out of the winners’ circle. However, Roaring Lion has rightfully been established as the leading contender for the title for the October 20th meet. As a result, Gosden’s charge should be the horse to back in the William Hill horse racing tips at 2/1 given his dominance over the second half of the season.


Roaring Lion began the term at the Craven Stakes at Newmarket, but failed to live up to expectations after being considered the favourite for the event. The American horse could not cope with the pace of Masar, finishing nine lengths behind the eventual winner of the meet, while he was beaten on the line for second place by White Mocha, capping an underwhelming outing. Life did not improve for Roaring Lion in his next appearance at Newmarket in the 2,000 Guineas. He struggled from the off to match the speed of the leading group led by Saxon Warrior. Gosden’s charge placed in fifth, highlighting how far he had to go to become an elite competitor.


Oisin Murphy was able to lead the horse to his first victory of the campaign at York in the Dante Stakes. The three-year-old kept pace with the leading group before making his charge one furlong out to win by a comfortable margin – four-and-a-half lengths ahead of his nearest rival. Roaring Lion was one of the leading contenders for The Derby due to the dominance of his performance, and although he was able to finish ahead of Saxon Warrior, it was only good enough for a third-place display as Masar claimed the crown.



Roaring Lion Will Continue Dominance At British Champion Stakes

Source: HorseRidingCup via Twitter


Roaring Lion’s next outing would be more successful at The Eclipse. This time Murphy was able to get a fine performance out of the three-year-old. He timed his surge to perfection down the stretch pulling ahead of the field in the final furlong. Saxon Warrior made the challenge, but the American horse had enough to see off the threat to clinch the win by a neck. Gosden’s charge built on his triumph by claiming another title on his return to York. Poet’s Word was the favourite for the event, but the grey colt was able to dominate him and the rest of the field, finishing three-and-a-quarter lengths ahead of the Irish horse.


The three-year-old’s back-to-back victories saw him installed as the favourite for the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown in his first outing at the venue. Although Roaring Lion got off to a slow start in the contest, he was able to move through the gears to challenge his old foe Saxon Warrior down the final furlong. The two horses battled out for the victory on the straight, and it was Gosden’s charge that emerged with the win, beating out his rival by the narrowest margins. It would be prudent to back him once again to make it four on the bounce to end the campaign as Saxon Warrior was forced into retirement at the end of their duel.

A Day at the Races  If you’re even remotely interested in horse racing, a day at the races is hard to beat in terms of colour, drama and excitement. However, if you’ve never been racing before, you may be at a loss as to when and where to go, how to get there, what you’ll do while you’re there and so on. With this in mind, we’ve put together this brief guide to help you plan your day out.


When to go Racing


In Britain, horse racing takes place on every day of the year except Good Friday, December 23, 24 and 25, including Sundays, so when to go racing is largely a question of personal preference. If you want to attend one of the major meetings, such as the Cheltenham Festival or Royal Ascot, you’ll find that they take place at more or less the same time each year, but otherwise your choice is limited only by the spare time you have available and the type of racing you want to watch.


Traditionally, the Flat racing season runs from April to October and the National Hunt season from October to April, but Flat racing takes place on the all-weather courses, at Lingfield, Kempton, Wolverhampton and Southwell, throughout the winter and National Hunt racing takes place at selected course throughout the summer. It’s also worth remembering that in spring and summer the extra hours of daylight allow evening race meetings to be staged under both codes.


Where to go Racing


There are total of 57 racecourses throughout the length and breadth of mainland Britain so, wherever you live, you should be able to find at least one that’s within an hour or two by road or rail. Nowadays, most racecourses operate their own website, so if you have one close to home it should be easy to find a convenient date on which to visit.


If, on the other hand, you don’t know where your nearest racecourse is and/or if it offers what you’re looking for, you’ll find that websites such as those operated by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and Love The Races provide useful tools, guides and plenty of other information to help your find the perfect day out. Nowadays, many racecourses host special events, such as live music concerts after racing, above and beyond the racing itself.


How to Choose an Enclosure


Once you’ve chosen when to go and where to go, you also need to choose which enclosure on the racecourse suits you best. Some racecourses offer just a single enclosure, in which case you have Hobson’s choice, but others offer two, three or more, so you need to make a more considered decision.


Your choice of enclosure dictates not only how much you’ll pay for admission, but how much access you have to racecourse facililities, how well you can see the horses before, during and after each race and, in some cases, what you’re permitted to wear.


If you choose the ‘Members’ enclosure, also known as the ‘Club’ or ‘Premier’ enclosure, you’re effectively granted, for a day, the same rights as annual members of the racecourse. You obviously pay for the privilege, but you have access to all areas of the racecourse, including the prime vantage points, the parade ring and the winners’ enclosure. You do need to bear in mind, however, that some racecourses, such as Ascot, require gentlemen to wear a jacket and tie and ladies to dress for a smart occasion in the Members enclosure.


Author’s Note: Personally, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting racecourses throughout Britain and I enjoy the extra ‘elbow room’ afforded by the Members enclosure, where you at least have a chance of a few minutes’ quiet contemplation away from the hustle and bustle of the betting ring.


The ‘Tattersalls’ enclosure, also known as the ‘Grandstand & Paddock’ enclosure, is home to the main betting ring on the racecourse and, by definition, often the busiest. The viewing typically isn’t quite as choice as in the Members’ Enclosure – you can’t watch the races from directly opposite the winning post, so you’re be none the wiser if there’s a close finish – but it’s still perfectly adequate and you have access to everything you need for a thoroughly enjoyable day. Racecourses typically encourage racegoers to dress smartly in the Tattersalls enclosure, but there’s often no formal dress code and denim and training shoes may be allowed.


The ‘Silver Ring’ is the cheapest and most informal enclosure. It’s usually situated some distance from the winning post, so you can’t see the business end of races, the parade ring or the winners’ enclosure. Nevertheless, if you’re on a budget, you still have access to limited selection of bookmakers, a Tote facility and places to eat and drink. Along the same lines as the Silver Ring, some racecourses offer a ‘Course’ or ‘Picnic’ enclosure, usually in the centre of the course, where admission is charged per car as well as, or instead of, per person. The idea is that you can dress as casually as you like, park your car and enjoy your own picnic.


How to Pay Admission


You can pay your racecourse admission at the turnstiles on the day, but most racecourses off substantial discounts, typically up to 20%, if you book your badge(s) in advance, online or by telephone, particularly if you’re booking for group. Bear in mind, too, that some major meetings are hugely popular, so booking in advance may be your only option if you want to avoid disappointment.


Tips from an Experienced Racegoer


If you’ve never been racing before, you’ll be amazed by the length of time you spend on your feet during the day. Even if you need to comply with a dress code, your shoes only need to be clean and presentable, so make sure they’re comfortable.


If you’re likely to go racing regularly, think about investing in a pair of high-quality 10 x 50 binoculars. You’ll surprised by how much more involved you’ll feel if you can see the horses on the far side of the course. If you do take binoculars, remove the case and leave it, out of sight, in your car, if possible; you won’t need it during the day and it’s one less thing to lug around the racecourse.


Take enough cash to cover your expenses, including betting and refreshments. Some, but not all, racecourses provide an ATM, but if budget for your day before you leave home you’ll avoid charges, queues and the temptation to chase your losses.


The other essential items you need are a pen, to make notes on your racecard, a copy of the Racing Post and, if you’re in any doubt about the vagaries of the British weather, a small, folding umbrella.


Try to arrange at your chosen racecourse at least an hour before the first race, particularly if you’re visiting the course for the first time. This will allow you to familiarise yourself with the layout of the racecourse in terms of facilities and perhaps enjoy a drink before the bars become busy, which they inevitably do.


The first thing you should do on arrival is to buy a racecard, usually available from a kiosk just inside the main entrance, which lists the colours, runners and riders for all the races on the day. Trust me, you’ll be glad of an at-a-glance guide to the races more than once during the day.