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Britain’s most famous racecourses

| 21.12.2018

From Ascot to Cheltenham, horse racing in Britain carries a certain level of prestige and tradition. Whether it’s over jumps or on the flat, the country boasts some of the world’s top racing venues.

We’ve taken a look at seven of the most prestigious racecourses in Britain, along with some of the most famous races and what there is to do in each town or city.

Don’t forget to take a look at the latest odds for upcoming horseraces at some of these grounds.


Aintree Racecourse
First opened in 1829, Aintree is famous worldwide as the home of the Grand National.

The race has an estimated 500 to 600 million viewers globally each year and is the jewel in the crown of the three-day Aintree Festival held every April.

The Festival contains a number of famous races, including the Aintree Bowl, Aintree Hurdle, Melling Chase and the Sefton Novices’ Chase.

But it is the Grand National – Europe’s richest jump race – which garners the most attention.

Lottery won the first Grand National in 1839. Since then plenty have tried and failed to jump the 30 fences required to win the Grand National.

Red Rum, Don’t Push It and 2018 champion, Tiger Roll, have all conquered obstacles such as The Chair, Becher’s Brook and Valentine’s to win the race.

Other popular races run around the venue include the Old Roan Chase in October and the Becher Chase at the December Meeting.

Where is Aintree racecourse?

Part of Aintree’s charm is its close proximity to Liverpool. The racecourse is located around five miles away from the famous city, which is home to British cultural icons such as Liverpool Football Club and the Beatles.

As such, there’s plenty going on all year round and there’s no shortage of things to see. From Anfield to the Royal Albert Dock and to the famous Cavern Club where the Beatles started out, the 2008 European City of Culture has something for everyone.

The city also has a thriving nightlife and is accessible via trains from London or by John Lennon Airport by plane.


Ascot Racecourse
Racecourses don’t come much more prestigious than Ascot. The Berkshire track is dual-purpose in that it hosts both jump and flat racing, although it’s the latter and specifically Royal Ascot for which it is best known.

The annual five-day event in June each year sees the cream of the flat racing crop from the UK, Ireland and the rest of the world convene for a five-day racing extravaganza.

Contests including the King’s Stand Stakes, Ascot Gold Cup and the St James’s Place Stakes take pride of place. Races make household names out of famous racehorses such as Frankel, Black Caviar and Stradivarius.

There are 30 races in total across the week with £7.3m (2018) in prize money. However, Royal Ascot isn’t the only event the track holds.

British Champions Day in October, the Summer Mile Race day in July and the Ascot Chase in February are just three more events which help make it such an incredible venue for racing.

Where is Ascot racecourse?

Ascot itself is a small town in East Berkshire, around 25 miles west of Central London.

There’s not a great deal going on in one of the priciest places to live in the UK. So, it could be worth jumping on a train and visiting the historic town of Windsor just six miles down the road.

Made even more famous by the recent Royal Wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Windsor has plenty of cultural landmarks to take in.

They include the village of Old Windsor, St. George’s Chapel and Windsor Castle.

Otherwise, racegoers are just a stone’s throw from London, with England’s capital city accessible via trains from London Waterloo.


Cheltenham Racecourse
Cheltenham is the home of National Hunt racing in the UK. The Prestbury Park course hosts several key events each calendar year, none of which are bigger than the Cheltenham Festival.

Over 250,000 racegoers from across the world pile into the Gloucestershire venue every March to watch the best of British and Irish jump racing do battle.

From the Arkle on Tuesday through to the famous Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday, the only breath to be had is for the infamous Cheltenham Roar at the start of the Cheltenham Festival week.

The Festival has made legends of horses including Kauto Star, Denman, Arkle and Mill House and trainers such as Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott.

There’s nowhere else in racing quite like it.

And with the November Meeting, December Meeting and Festival Trials Day in the build-up to the Festival itself, there’s always something going on around either the Old Course or the New Course.

Where is Cheltenham racecourse?

The racecourse is located just below the Cotswold Hills, near the historic spa town of Cheltenham in Gloucestershire.

It offers a glorious view of the rolling countryside, especially on a crisp Spring Day during the Festival.

Punters travelling to Prestbury Park can do so via the racecourse’s own steam railway station which is now operated by the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway.

Cheltenham Spa station itself is served by trains from a number of mainline stations across the UK, such as London Paddington and Manchester Piccadilly.

The wider county has a number of impressive places to visit too.

These include the ancient woodland of the Forest of Dean and castles such as Sudeley Castle and Beverston Castle.


york racecourse
Located in North Yorkshire, York Racecourse is solely a flat racing track which is second only to Ascot in terms of total prize money offered each year.

As a result of its status as a flat racing track, the course only runs meetings through the summer months.

The biggest of these is the Ebor Festival in August. The International Stakes, Yorkshire Oaks and the Nunthorpe Stakes are the feature contests across the four-day event.

The Ebor Handicap, meanwhile, is one of Europe’s premier handicap races. These events help contribute to over 350,000 racegoers every year.

Other key fixtures throughout the summer include the Spring Festival in May. This hosts the prestigious Dante Stakes which is often a precursor to the Derby at Epsom.

Golden Horn was the last horse to achieve victory in both. The July and August Meetings also feature several big renewals each year.

Where is York racecourse?

York Racecourse is found to the south-west of the historic city of York.

It is situated on a piece of land known as the Knavesmire, hence why the course often carries this name among punters.

The city itself has no shortage of places to visit and things to see. York Minster is the city’s cathedral and one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe.

There’s also the Shambles Market, the River Ouse which has plenty of shops and restaurants running alongside, plus York Castle.

Other Northern cities such as Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle are accessible via the city’s station. So too is London King’s Cross.


Goodwood Racecourse
Goodwood comes alive in the summer with the Glorious Goodwood Festival. Held over five days between July and August, the event takes place in the picturesque grounds of Goodwood House.

The three Group 1 contests are the highlight of the week.  They are the Sussex Stakes on Wednesday, the Goodwood Cup – won last year by Stradivarius – on Thursday, and the Nassau Stakes on Friday.

However, it’s the Stewards’ Cup which is one of the most popular betting events. Run over six furlongs, the race now carries a £250,000 prize pool and was won by Gifted Master in 2018.

Other notable events throughout the year include the Spring Meeting, the August Meeting and the September Meeting.

Where is Goodwood Racecourse?

Part of what makes Goodwood so glorious is its location. The 216-year-old racecourse offers fantastic views of the Sussex Downs, Chichester Plains and the Isle of White.

Add in the summer sun and it’s the perfect location to spend an afternoon racing.

The closest city to the course is Chichester, which boasts a cathedral and a marina. Other towns nearby include Worthing, Crawley, Horsham and Bognor Regis – a popular resort for holidaymakers.

International racegoers may opt to fly in via Gatwick Airport, while sports fans may also visit Goodwood Motor Circuit, which is within the grounds of Goodwood House.


Epsom Racecourse
Famous for its undulating track, Epsom Downs is one of the most rigorous tests for a racehorse on the calendar.

No surprise then that it hosts two of Britain’s five seasonal classics in the Epsom Oaks and the Epsom Derby.

Both contests carry enormous prestige and are run annually in June. The Oaks is run over 1 mile 4 furlongs and is exclusively for three-year-old fillies.

In recent years it has been won by historic names including Enable and Minding.

The Derby is also run over 1 mile 4 furlongs and is open to three-year-old colts or fillies. Shergar, Mill Reef and Galileo are just three of the famous names to win the race since it was first to run in 1780.

Epsom also hosts the Coronation Cup and the Princess Elizabeth Stakes across the two-day Festival. The April Meeting is the other event of note.

Where is Epsom Racecourse?

Located 13 miles south-west of London, Epsom is a market town in Surrey situated between Ashtead and Ewell. As such it is easily accessible by rail from London Victoria and London Waterloo.

The wider area contains a number of prominent tourist attractions.

Hampton Court Palace is located just down the road in Richmond-upon-Thames, while Thorpe Park is between Chertsey and Staines-upon-Thames.

And with such good transport links to England’s capital city, there’s always the opportunity to head into London and see other famous landmarks like Big Ben or the Houses of Parliament.


Chester Racecourse
Chester Racecourse holds a special place on our list. That’s because it is the oldest racecourse still in use in England, with racing on the site dating all the way back to the early 16th century.

It also holds the distinction of being one of the smallest racecourses in terms of the circumference at just 1 mile and 1 furlong. What it lacks in length though, it more than makes up for in great racing.

Each year the Roodee hosts the prestigious May Festival which contains three days of fabulous racing.

The Festival starts off with City Day on Wednesday, then Ladies Day on the Thursday and Chester Cup Day on Friday.

There are 12 further race days to enjoy during the summer months, including the Summer Festival and the Autumn Festival.

Where is Chester Racecourse?

The racecourse is located on the banks of the River Dee which flows through parts of both Wales and England.

The course is surrounded by history, with the east side backing directly onto the ancient city walls, which are now used as a vantage point to watch the racing.

There’s plenty to see around the city too. Chester Castle was constructed in the 11th century and is now a popular tourist destination.

Meanwhile, the Eastgate Clock in the city centre is said to be the second-most photographed clock in England after Big Ben.

We hope you enjoyed our roundup of racecourses across the country. To find out more about upcoming races, odds and offers at the events mentioned head over to our Sportsbook.




Nick Murphy

Nick is a graduate of the UEA where he doubled up as the sports editor of the student newspaper. He supports Dagenham & Redbridge and previously edited the matchday programme at Victoria Road. Darts and Horse Racing are among his other favourite sports.