The UK plays host to some of the most prestigious, exciting and respected horse racing events on the global calendar. From the Grand National to Royal Ascot, Cheltenham Festival to the King George VI Chase, millions of people flock to the racetracks or tune in on the television or radio to discover which horse and rider will be victorious each year.

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If you’re looking for more details about the key races, such as when the Grand National is held or where Royal Ascot is, read on for an overview of some of the greatest UK horse racing events in the calendar.

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The Grand National

The Grand National is the most famous jump horse race in the world, attracting spectators ranging from betting experts to those who gamble just once a year and pick their favourite name or colour.

Held in early spring at Aintree in Liverpool, this iconic race is watched by over 500 million people around the world. Dubbed the ‘ultimate test for horse and rider’, this huge event is known for challenging jumps such as The Chair and Beecher’s Brook.

Famous winners include the legendary record-breaking three-time champ Red Rum, who is today buried by the winning post to commemorate his great success.

Royal Ascot

Ascot Racecourse is one of the UK’s leading courses and host to Royal Ascot, the centrepiece showcase of the year which dates back to 1711.

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Taking place over five days in June, Royal Ascot features a number of popular races, from the longest flat race of the season in the Ascot Gold Cup to the premier five-furlong King’s Stand Stakes and many more.

Attended each year by members of the British Royal Family, the Royal Enclosure has a strict dress code for both men and women and therefore attracts those who want to be seen as well as see. Ascot also hosts many other top racing events throughout the year.

Cheltenham Festival

The phrase ‘Cheltenham Roar’ was coined to describe the excitement of the crowds that attend the Cheltenham Festival, held annually over four days in March. It usually coincides with St. Patrick’s Day, which makes it highly popular with Irish visitors.

Race prize money totals are second only to the Grand National, with thousands of bettors gambling hundreds of millions of pounds over the course of the event. Top races include the Cheltenham Gold Cup, World Hurdle and Champion Hurdle, with the Ladbrokes World Hurdle (known as Stayer’s Hurdle between 1972 and 2005) the oldest race still run at the event, inaugurated in 1912.

Other events

There are many other exciting races held in the UK throughout the year. The famous Epsom Derby and the final classic of the year, the St Leger in Doncaster, are highly popular flat racing events.

For jump racing, the Hennessy Gold Cup is the richest handicap race outside of the Grand Nationals in England and Scotland. The King George VI Chase held every Boxing Day at Kempton Park requires a unique combination of jumping and staying ability, attracting multiple winners such as Kauto Star who has won five times and Desert Orchid with four wins.