Horse Racing: Five Quality Festivals In The United Kingdom & Ireland

Horse racing has become a quintessential British pastime, where fans flock to major festivals in their thousands. And a horse racing event is not all about the racing; British and Irish racing has now become synonymous with haute-cuisine, high fashion, Royal Family members, and celebrities.

Britain and Ireland lead the way when it comes to world-famous horse racing events, so below we’re going to have a look at the most prestigious ones.


Royal Ascot, Berkshire, England

This racing event takes place in June every year. It has become one of the main pillars of British sport, with the Queen and other Royal Family members regularly attending. This race event is as much about quality fashion and celebrities as it is about betting high stakes on the horses.

Royal Ascot was first run back in 1839, and has been run nearly every year since. It is now the most valuable horse race in the United Kingdom with a total prize pot of over £8 million. The main race is the Gold Cup; the contest that all jockeys aspire to win. Other big races that take part during this 5-day horse racing festival include the Queen Anne Stakes, the Prince of Wales’s Stake, the Commonwealth Cup, and the Golden Jubilee Stakes. 

If you’re a big fan of horse racing, then you must attend this prestigious festival at least once to soak up the atmosphere and place some wagers. But if you cannot attend, then all is not lost because all of the best horse racing betting sites, such as those found at, will have odds and markets covering all of the biggest races.


The Grand National, Aintree, Liverpool

This race, which is held each year in April, is one of the world’s most viewed horse races, with more than 600 million people watching it all over the world, and more than 150,000 fans in attendance. This race, which is part of a three-day festival has become extremely popular due to the fact that it has become so unpredictable — on the day, any of the horses can go on to win the £1 million that is on offer.

In fact, the Grand National is so unpredictable that it has become a contentious subject in the horse racing world, with many feeling that there is too much of a risk for the horse and the jockey. In this race, the participants run four-and-a-half miles, and have to jump over 30 fences with differing degrees of difficulty. There are eight other Grade One races during the festival, so you will have plenty of great races to put your money on. 


Cheltenham Festival, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

This race takes part in March of each year and is the first racing festival in the British horse racing calendar. This four-day event coincides with St. Patrick’s Day, so it attracts a large number of Irish horse racing fans.

There are two main races at this prestigious event, and these are the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Champion Hurdle. When it comes to prize money, the Gold Cup has a total prize pool of £625,000, which is second only to the aforementioned Grand National. With 28 races over the course of the festival, there is definitely no shortage of betting options available to horse racing betting fans.


Epsom Derby, Epsom, Surrey

This festival takes place in June every year and is regarded as one of the best racing spectacles in the world. The first derby at Epsom was run in 1780, and it still provides an unforgettable horse racing experience each year. The Downs racetrack on which the races take place offers horses and jockeys the ultimate test of balance, endurance, and speed. If participants do not have all three, then they can forget about being successful here. 

Each year, more than 100,000 horse racing enthusiasts flock to Epsom, and fashion is just as important as the races that are on show. You will spot royalty and celebrities all dressed in their best attire, with the best-dressed lady winning a prize of £5,000.

There are 14 great races at the Epsom festival, but the one that all participants want to win is the Epsom Derby, also known as the Cazoo Derby because of sponsorship reasons. There is more than £600,000 on offer to the winner. 


Galway Summer Festival, Galway, Ireland

This seven-day event starts on the last Monday in July and is one of the most popular racing events in the Republic of Ireland. What makes this event so popular is its unique atmosphere — with live live music, DJs, fashion, and other modes of entertainment alongside the races. Over the course of the festival, more than 100,000 horse racing fans travel to Galway to enjoy everything that’s on offer. 

There are two main races at this festival, and these are the Galway Plate and the Galway Hurdle. Both of these races do not have the same high prize money as other races outlined above — but the winner can still walk away with more than £150,000, which, in our opinion, is still highly significant for a race that lasts a couple of minutes. There are more than 40 races over the course of the festival, so horse racing bettors will have plenty to stake their money on.


Things That You Need At The Races

Apart from your sunscreen — or an umbrella since we’re talking about the notoriously wet British and Irish weather — there a few other items that might come in handy when you are betting on horses at the racetrack.

  • Racetrack program: Just like a program at a football match, it features important info on the participants. The players are the jockeys, trainers, horses, and owners are detailed in full. You will have to pay a few pounds to get your hands on a race day program, but the information might be useful for improving your chances.
  • Daily racing form: The form contains the previous performances of all of the horses that are going to be running, and includes useful horse racing articles as well as handicapping. Once again, you will need to pay some a small fee to get one of these. Alternatively, there are plenty of online racing form guides.
  • Handicapping tip sheet: This is a daily selection that is published by experienced handicappers/tipsters. Obviously, you do not have to follow anyone’s tips, but it’s often worth knowing what others are thinking.
  • Binoculars: Lastly, you might want to bring a pair of binoculars so that you can watch your horse cross the finish line. It’s hardly essential, though; especially as many venues have several large screens dotted around.

Obviously, if you are betting online at your favourite sports betting site, always take the time to do your own research so that you maximise your chances of finding value.

Also see my list of the Top 10 Racecourses in the UK.

Toby @ Punter2Pro
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