What Makes UK Horse Racing So Special?

Cross-country chase” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Carine06

Horse racing takes place all over the world, with a huge range of tracks in the US, several in Australia, a wealth in Dubai and the UAE, and plenty in countries across Europe. But despite being relatively small, the UK racing industry punches well above its weight, and some would argue that British racing is the very best in the world.

But what makes it so special? On a regular basis, there are many big events that take place, such as the Grand National, which runs every year in April. This is the biggest single race on the UK calendar, with millions tuning in. For 2022, the latest horse racing odds have Any Second Now as the +1000 favorite to win this race. Even with all of this, and the interest from both the UK and around the world, it’s far from the only UK horse racing event to attract worldwide interest.

The UK’s Biggest Horse Racing Events

Regardless of the time of year, it seems there is always something big coming up in UK racing. If it is fall and winter and you’re looking for national hunt fixtures, then the Grand National, Cheltenham Festival and Christmas Festival are the ones to watch. These races provide fans with something exciting and feature some of the best horses as they take each other on.

Royal Ascot 2015” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Dumphasizer

During the spring, attention switches to flat racing, kicking off with the Lincoln Handicap in Doncaster. Come summer, big events include the Royal Ascot meeting, the Derby and Oaks meeting, 1000 & 2000 Guineas, York Ebor Festival, and Glorious Goodwood. Again, just like with national hunt racing, these all give fans something to get excited about, because fields are strong, and the very best horses from the country – sometimes from elsewhere around the world – are taking each other on. In 2015, Royal Ascot attracted 20 non-European entries, and while that number has dipped more recently, it shows the pulling power of the UK, and in particular, this meeting.

Many other racing countries around the world have these types of races and meetings, but not as many as the UK, and they are often not spread out throughout the year like those in the UK are. This means longer periods without something big happening, a chance for people to fall away and lose interest in racing.

The Tradition of Horse Racing and Betting

Perhaps the biggest advantage that UK racing has over many other countries is the traditions within it that go back many years. Much of this is tied to betting, something that has been available in the UK for many years. Without betting, horse racing simply wouldn’t survive in the country, while there is no doubt that horse racing has helped the betting industry in the country grow into what we see today.

The betting industry in the UK is strong, with the races above playing a big part in that. The 2021 Grand National saw over £100 million ($137.4 million) bets on the race, and due to shops being closed, the money was all placed online or on mobile. This race, like many others, is something that many people look towards and want to bet on, because they have done so for many years.

It is this tradition, something that is passed around between relatives and friends, that no other sport has in the UK. Football betting may be overtaking now, just like in many other parts of the world, but the relationship that the gambling industry has with horse racing is a big reason why the sport continues to flourish and be so special in the UK.