Beginning with the Cheltenham Festival in early March, the horse racing calendar is a busy one. Others to look forward to in spring and summertime include the Irish Grand National and Aintree, and in England there is the Epsom Derby, Royal Ascot and the July festival at Newmarket. These events often see huge numbers of racing fans in attendance, who enjoy excellent dining, bar service and entertainment alongside the races. Also the TV viewing figures reach very high numbers, such as 1.4 million viewers at once for the Royal Ascot. Whether watching the event live at the racecourse or on the television or online at home, many also enjoy betting on each race and will spend time reviewing the odds calculator before wagering
Here is what to expect for some of the biggest racing events in the United Kingdom in the first half of the year:
The Cheltenham Festival is the highlight of the year for many racing fans. Since its beginning in the 1800’s, the event has grown significantly, with the final day now seeing up to 71,500 people in attendance.
The four-day race event will begin on the Tuesday with The Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Race. The first day is Champion Day and its feature race is The Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy in the afternoon.
Those interested in horse race betting will already be looking at what the expected line up will be and what odds they will need to consider. For the first feature race, Epatante is tipped to do well given his previous record, as is Buveur d’Air.
The second day is Ladies Day and The Betway Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase is the one that punters look forward to. While Altior has missed the last two festivals due to injury he is a usual favourite. We can also expect Chacun Pour Soi, Defi Du Seuil and Sceau Royal to appear in the line-up.
On day three, The Ryanair Steeple Chase is the race of the day. Some recent memorable winners include Un de Sceaux, Cue Card and Vautour. Finally, on Gold Cup Day the feature cup event is the highlight of the entire festival. Al BoumPhoto recently became the first dual winner of the race, while Denman and Kauto Star are all recent winners to look out for.
Royal Ascot is another huge event in horse racing. The race attracts up to a total of 300,000 spectators. The 2021 event will take place from 15 June to 19 June and will have more than £8 million in prize money up for grabs. There is a total of 36 races to look forward to across the event, meaning there are plenty of opportunities to place a bet or two.
There are a number of favourites for the races this year. One big favourite in the competition is Stradivarius, who won the coveted gold cup in both 2018 and 2019. He is the descendants of Mr. Prospector and Northern Dancer, two legendary horses from the 20th century. Young Irish horse Pierre Lapin is another one tipped to do well at Ascot. He won both of his starting races last year. The Horse Japan is often a favourite in the Prince of Wales’ stakes. He is an international winner and recently came in fourth place in the French Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe race.
Newmarket is the highlight of July for many race goers, taking place over three days the event is an exciting and fast paced event. As well as having large audience numbers, it is usually also streamed on television and is popular with online wagering sites. Newmarket was first run in 1876, when Queen Victoria entered her horse Springfield. Since then it has continued to go into one of the most anticipated events in the UK’s racing calendar.
The event begins with Ladies Day and the kick-off race is the British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Fillies race. This is then followed by Gentlemen’s Day, where the featured event is the Falmouth Stakes race. Finally there is the third day of races that features the Group 1 July Cup. Looking at who past winners are is a good way of making predictions for the 2021 races. In the July Cup, three quarters of winners were aged between three and four. All but one of the recent 12 winners had a recent run before entering the July Cup.
The 2020 cup winner was Oxted, a four year old horse who has a total of 10 wins in his lifetime record. The year before that saw Ten Sovereigns take place, who was three years old at the time of the race.
The Epsom Derby is also well worth a mention. Ladies’ Day and Derby Day are next expected to be held at the Surrey course June 2021. The race dates back to the late 1700’s and has inspired many other Derby events around the world. Last year’s winner was the Irish racehorse Serpentine. The year before that Anthony Van Dyck was the winner, Van Dyck sadly died last month following a Fenlock fracture sustained during the 2020 Melbourne Cup. The next Epsom Derby will be run at 4.30pm on Saturday 5th June at Epsom Downs Racecourse.
These are just some of the biggest horse racing events taking place in the UK in 2021. Be prepared for an action packed summer of festivals and race days, as always we can expect there to be some surprise contenders and unexpected wins.