Ascot was founded in 1711 by Queen Anne, and has since maintained its royal connections. But there is much more to Ascot than its connections to the British Royal Family. Britain Magazine notes that Ascot is one of the UK’s leading racecourses, as it plays host to 9 of the UK’s 32 annual Group 1 races. Ascot’s centerpiece is none other than the Royal Ascot, a five-day festival packed with well-known and lucrative races. An added attraction to the annual June spectacle is the Royal Ascot Dining Experience. This is where Ascot’s guests can enjoy fine dining inside the famed venue.
Ascot is also home to British Champions Day, where the finals of the British Champions Series take place, along with the mile-long Balmoral Handicap. bwin Horse Racing reports that the Balmoral Handicap at Ascot is one of the most prestigious and valuable races of the year. It also serves as the perfect finish to what is considered the richest day in British horse racing. It is, therefore fitting that the so-called royal racecourse plays host to Champions Day.
Cheltenham in Gloucestershire is known for its scenic location, and rather colorful history. The racecourse was originally located in Nottingham Hill. But that course was burned down in 1830, as a priest, Reverend Francis Close, called horse racing evil. A year later the racecourse was moved to Prestbury Park, where it stands proudly to this day. Now it is the home of the famous Cheltenham Festival. Part of the UK’s National Hunt racing calendar, the festival is a four-day event featuring a handful of Grade 1 races, notably the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the Champion Hurdle, and the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Aintree in Merseyside is one of the UK’s showcase racecourses. It is home to the world-famous Grand National steeplechase. Aintree first hosted the event in 1836. It has proved to be a fitting host to the Grand National, which is regarded as the “Super Bowl of horse racing”. It is reportedly watched by some 600 million people worldwide, and attended, on average, by over 150,00 spectators. That is quite the platform for the beautiful Aintree and its infamous 16 individually named, spruce-covered steeplechase fences such as Chair, Canal Turn, and Becher’s Brook).
CNN hails Goodwood as “one of the most beautiful venues in the sport” and “the epitome of Englishness.” It is well known for hosting some of Europe’s famous flat races. The most highly regarded of these races is arguably the Glorious Goodwood meeting — a series of Grades 1-3 races that include the Goodwood Cup and the King Georges Stakes. Through the years, Goodwood has been a worthy host, with its undulating racecourse posing a stiff challenge to both runners and riders alike.