Caption: Many of the world’s oldest racecourses are located in England
Horse racing has stood the test of time and has been enjoyed for centuries. Various venues have been constructed throughout the years, many of which have a rich and exciting history. Keep reading to discover the oldest racecourses in the world.
While many of the world’s oldest sports such as Mayan basketball or Persian poker have mutated throughout history, horse racing has hardly changed. One destination that is upholding the age-old tradition of the sport is Chester, England, which boasts the oldest racecourse in the world.
Chester Racecourse is steeped in history, as it was built in 1539. The first grandstand was erected in 1817 for spectators, and the Chester Cup, formerly known as the Tradesmen Cup, launched seven years later in 1824 and continues to be a popular event for horse racing fans.
Newmarket has been synonymous with horse racing since the 1600s, as Charles II, a king of England, reportedly attended the races on Newmarket Heath with James II, his brother.
However, it wasn’t until 1636 that Newmarket Racecourse was founded, with Charles II riding a winning horse during a race in 1671. Located in Suffolk, Newmarket features two racecourses: the July Course and Rowley Mile. It is also home to two of England’s five Classic Races: the 1,000 Guineas and 2,000 Guineas.
Ascot Racecourse was carefully chosen and founded by Queen Anne in 1711, and the first race was coined “Her Majesty’s Plate,” which was held in her honour and offered a 100-guinea purse for the winner. The land was reportedly purchased for £558, but now it’s one of the finest racecourses in the UK.
Ascot racecourse continues to prove popular with the British royal family, as it is located approximately six miles away from Windsor Castle, a royal residence. While the Royal Meeting’s Gold Cup is the most popular event at the historic racecourse, the most prestigious race is undoubtedly King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, which run at Ascot each July.
The Curragh is one of the most famous thoroughbred racecourses in Ireland and is home to five Irish Flat Classics. The venue, located in County Kildare, is also one of the oldest racecourses in the world, as the first recorded race was held in 1728, and the first derby commenced in 1866. During this time, it proved to be a sought-after spot with nobility, who would regularly visit The Curragh to enjoy a mix of hunting, hawking, and racing.
Tarbes-Laloubere is believed to be the oldest functioning racecourse in France. The historic racecourse, which can be found on the outskirts of Tarbes, has hosted many racing events for more than two centuries. The inaugural meeting took place on July 23, 1809, with Marie-Therese of France, King Louis XVI’s daughter, in attendance. The racecourse was, however, modernized in both the 1970s and 2000s, and now features a nine-hole golf course and a restaurant.
So, if you want to cheer on horses to victory at a historic racecourse, the above options are worth your consideration.