Horse racing is one of the most spectated sports in the world, with a large following on several continents. It is one of the few modern sports that has a foundation in ancient history, as the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all placed great value on their horses and when they weren’t using them to travel, work or fight, they were using them to race. Horse racing played a role in the ancient Greek Olympics and the Panhellenic Games, with the successful riders retreated like royalty. In later centuries, it became a massive industry in civilised Rome, being adopted by knights throughout the medieval age. In the 1600s, the sport began to take on a more modern shape thanks to King Charles II, a sports fan who was obsessed with horse racing and helped to establish the Newmarket course. In the century that followed it was popularised thanks to the founding of the Jockey Club and several long-standing races. There are close to 1,500 horse racing fixtures staged in the United Kingdom every year, and this number swells considerably when you include countries like the United States, Canada, Ireland, and South Africa, among others. These 1,500 or so fixtures account for over 10,000 races, 93,000 runs, and close to 20,000 different horses.
Horses racing in the UK is split between flat and jump racing, the latter of which is also known as National Hunt Racing and Steeplechasing. It is the second-largest spectator sport in the country behind football and it generates billions of pounds for the economy, while assuming a very important place in the national sporting calendar. There are 60 licensed racecourses and these host many major races and events throughout the year. The United Kingdom is a hub for horse racing and draws the best breeders, trainers, horses, and jockeys from all over the world. This is the home of sporting superstars like Red Rum, who won the Grand National in 1973, setting a record time to do so, only to repeat that success a year later and then finish second for the following two years. The UK is also home to Frankel, one of the greatest horses to ever compete. Frankel won close to £3 million in prize money, despite running just 14 races. He was unbeaten throughout his illustrious career and won by several lengths each time, securing everything from the Royal Lodge Stakes in 2010, to the Champion Stakes and the Queen Anne Stakes in 2012.
To the average punter, the Aintree Grand National is the biggest event in the sport. This historic race takes place every April and attracts more attention than any other. Most UK households tune in to watch this race, even those who don’t watch any other race at any other time of the year. It’s not just popular in the UK, either. Reports suggest that there are close to 600 million viewers worldwide for the Grand National—more than half a billion people watching a single UK race! Very few sports have anywhere near this sort of popularity, so it’s no wonder that horse racing fans get so excited when this showcase rolls around every year. Other major events include the Cheltenham Festival, which runs in March, and the Epsom Downs, which occurs in June. Royal Ascot, King George Day, St. Leger Meeting, Racing Post Trophy, and the Ebor Festival are also big draws and ensure that our horse racing betting pages stay active all year long. Of course, there are also many races in countries like the United States and South Africa, but the UK is where it’s at for most fans of the sport. There is no shortage of options when betting on horse racing in the United Kingdom, just remember to gamble responsibly at all times.