Most popular horse races in the UK

The Epsom Derby is one of the most popular horse races in the UK ... photo by CC user 9887585@N08 on Flickr

Getting into equestrian, and traveling to the United Kingdom soon? Lucky you, as there are top quality events that occur across in almost every month on the calendar. What are the most popular horse races in the UK? The five listed below will entertain you while giving you a look into one of the cornerstone traditions in British society.

1) Grand National

Steeplechase is an exciting form of racing that many enjoy, and for them, there is no better event to take in than the Grand National. With 30 fences to jump in two laps over a two mile course (making for a race that stretches on for four miles in total), the epicness of this race draws in the attention of even causal sports fans on the day of its running.

Often held in and around St. Patrick’s Day, Aintree racecourse in Liverpool frequently sees many Irish in attendance that have taken the ferry across from Ireland to mix in a bit of horse racing action with the festivities normally associated with this festive time of year.

2) Royal Ascot

Founded by Queen Anne in 1711 after a causal horse ride out to the heathland that lay adjacent to Windsor Castle gave her the idea that this land would be a perfect proving ground for equestrian racers. Eventually, a track was built and a race series that came to be known as the Royal Ascot formed.

While the centerpiece attraction of this event is the Gold Cup race that has horses going flat out for over two miles of non-stop excitement, the Royal Ascot races on Prince of Wales’s Stakes Day are also very popular among equestrian enthusiasts. If you want to get even more into the action, don’t forget, Ascot races – bet on your favorite horse with William Hill.

3) Northumberland Plate

Held over three days in June at Newcastle racecourse, the Northumberland Plate is one of the richest two mile handicap races in the world. Known as the Pitmen’s Derby due to the holiday that was established on a Wednesday to allow local mine workers to watch the races in person, the race is now held on the weekend since the cancellation of the holiday at the end of the 1940’s. Being a less formal event than the other races on the calendar, picnics are allowed, albeit in designated areas.

4) Epsom Derby

With a prize pool of over 1.3 million pounds, the Epsom Derby is the wealthiest meet for horse racers in the United Kingdom, allowing it to attract a field that includes the best in the business. This flat race is considered to be among the finest in this genre of equestrian, and as such, it has been made to be the middle leg of the Triple Crown of British horse racing. This was the race that Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr attended back in the 19th century, which went on to inspire him to create America’s (and one of the world’s) greatest equestrian events.

5) World Hurdle

If you like to watch horses jump obstacles on their way to achieving glory, the one race you shouldn’t miss during racing season in the United Kingdom is the World Hurdle, which is held during the Cheltenham Festival in March. Horses and their jockeys need to leap twelve hurdles over the space of three miles, making it the perfect test of skill and endurance.