There are 60 race courses in the UK – from as northerly as Perth, Scotland; to as southerly as Newton Abbott, Devon. The oldest, Chester Racecourse, dates back to the early 16th century; while the newest, Chelmsford City, opened as recently as 2008. Not only one of the longest established spectator sports, horse racing is the second largest in the UK and has generated billions of pounds over the years. Here, we take a look at some of the top tracks in the UK.
Located in Aintree, Liverpool, Aintree Racecourse was established in 1829 and of course, is home to the most famous race in the UK, the Aintree Grand National. Attracting crowds of over 70,000 each year, the Grand National is considered a National Hunt tradition and has been a great contributing factor to the success and popularity of the racecourse. Originally used for flat racing, Aintree debuted steeplechasing in 1836 and the first Grand National was held three years later. The 2019 Grand National will be the 172nd annual running and if you fancy a flutter, find the latest odds here: https://www.paddypower.com/horse-racing?tab=grand-national.
Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire is considered the home of British horseracing, due to its traditions and associations with the Royal Family – having been established in 1711 by Queen Anne. Hosting 26 days of racing a year, the track famously hosts Royal Ascot – five days of sporting action and entertainment which sees over 300,000 people attend for events including the iconic Gold Cup.
Cheltenham Racecourse showcases some of the best National Hunt racing in the country – not least with the four-day Cheltenham Festival; an annual highlight in the racing calendar. Situated in Prestbury, Gloucestershire, Cheltenham Racecourse is set among 350 acres and has become one of the largest racecourses, attracting crowds in excess of 67,000. Its unique feature is that the racecourse consists of two tracks: the old course, which is no longer used for more popular events and the new course, which allows for longer steeplechase runs.
Doncaster Racecourse in South Yorkshire is one of the oldest courses in the UK – dating back to the 16th century. Hosting National Hunt and Flat Racing, Doncaster is probably most famous for the St. Leger Festival, which is held every September. Doncaster is also known for the oldest horserace in the world: the Doncaster Gold Cup, which was first ran in 1766.
The Epsom Downs Racecourse in Surrey is one of the most-famous racing venues in England is best known for hosting three popular events: the Epsom Derby, Epsom Oaks and the Coronation Cup. Opened in the 1600s, Epsom is obviously renowned for some wonderful races over the years – but is also remembered for the ‘deadly protest’ of 1913, whereby suffragette Emily Davison was knocked down by the King’s horse and later died.
One of the most southern racetracks in Britain, Goodwood in Chichester, Sussex is home to the Glorious Goodwood festival. Its picturesque backdrop and unique tracks make Goodwood one of the more remarkable courses – and it’s also one of the most featured racecourses on television, having been shown since 1956.
Very few racecourses can compete with Newmarket, certainly when it comes to history – the thoroughbred venue has been around since the 1600s and is one of the best-attended racecourses in the country as it hosts nine Group 1 races every season. Based in Newmarket, Suffolk, the racecourse houses two tracks which run on different times of the season: the Rowley Mile and July Course.
Sandown Park is steeped in history and has become known for its beauty, as well as the accomplishments of famous horses over the years – not only that, but it was the Queen Mother’s favourite racecourse. The first race was run in 1875 and it was the first course to be enclosed, making it an ideal location for the upper classes. Sandown has undergone numerous renovations over the years to enhance the overall experience for punters and fans alike – and famously hosts the prestigious Gold Cup.
Situated on the River Thames and in the shadow of Windsor Castle, Windsor Racecourse in Berkshire is the perfection destination for racing and dates back to the 1800s. It’s one of only two figure-of-eight courses in the UK (the other being Fontwell Park, West Sussex) and the highlight in Windsor’s calendar is undoubtedly the Winter Hill Stakes, which takes place in August.
York’s rich history dates back to the 1700s and as well as being third-biggest racecourse in terms of prize-money offered, it also attracts approximately 350,000 racegoers a year. The current course in Knavesmire, North Yorkshire famously staged Royal Ascot in 2005, while Ascot Racecourse underwent its £185 million development. However, York Racecourse is best known for its Ebor Festival and is a four-time winner of ‘Best Racecourse in Britain’.