In this turbulent year for sport, horse racing has suffered more than most. Whilst other sports fans may grumble about matches being played behind closed doors, the truth is that most games are still available on television, and most are able to survive via lucrative broadcast revenues.
However, so much of horse racing is about attending in person. Of course, racing remains on television, but for more casual racing fans, most of their enjoyment of the sport comes from getting suitably dressed up, attending meets, and having a wager on a plucky mare. With fans still told to stay away, many industry bosses are worried about the effects that such restrictions could have on the second biggest spectator sport in the country.
Therefore, if you’re planning on supporting racing from the comfort of your own home, you might want to get re-acquainted with some of the most important and storied courses across the country. Whilst flat courses do provide real entertainment, for many jumps racing is the most illustrious form of horse racing.
These challenging courses have gained legendary status for both racing fans, as well as jockeys and trainers.
One of the most famous jumps courses in the world, Cheltenham in leafy Gloucestershire is a serene setting for such fearsome racing. Comprised of two courses, The Old Course and The New Course, both courses are a challenging, stamina-sapping slog for even the most impressive horses in the world.
Cheltenham’s most famous race is the National Hunt Cheltenham Gold Cup, which this year was one of the last spectator events hosted before lockdown arrived. Whilst such a large gathering now appears perhaps slightly fool-hardy in the context, we’re glad we got to see some premium racing before society was shut down.
Most known for The Royal Ascot meet, in which Her Majesty The Queen is the most important of VIPs in attendance, Ascot is actually a dual-purpose course, hosting both flats and jumps racing. Whilst Ascot’s famous Gold Cup is run-flat, many prefer Ascot’s especially challenging jumps course. Featuring a 73ft uphill climb, striking fear into the hearts of many jockeys, Ascot’s jump course is a real test of a horse’s ability.
The first name in jumps courses, the Merseyside racecourse plays host each year to the world’s most famous horse race, The Grand National. For about 10 minutes each year, the whole of the UK and beyond comes to a halt as the race gets underway. For many, The Grand National is the only time they pick a punt all year.
Featuring staggeringly high fences followed by fearsome drops, far bigger than those at Cheltenham, The Grand National course, one of two courses at Aintree, has earned its reputation as the hardest National Hunt course in the country.
Sadly, Covid-19 put a stop to The Grand National this year, with a rather anti-climactic virtual race hosted in its place, however here’s hoping that by next April we’ll be able to gather again and witness some supreme racing in person.
Given how tricky the course is, and how hard it can be to pick a winner, looking ahead to next year make sure you read up on plenty of horse racing tips before you make your selections and be sure to take up offers like freebets uk at reputable bookmakers to make the event more fun.