The sport of horse racing is rooted deeply in British culture. It began at a regulated level in the 1700s and was a past-time of the super-rich, but today the sport is accessible to all.
London was the birthplace of many prestigious events in the horse racing calendar that still run today. Many annual races held in and around the capital throughout the year garner worldwide interest.
Looking ahead to 2024, what are the most exciting events around the capital that await the evergrowing sport of horse racing?
Royal Ascot is one of the biggest and most important festivals in the British horse racing calendar. As its name suggests, it has royal roots, and even modern-day members of the royal family often attend the Berkshire event.
Ascot’s transformation over its history illustrates how horse racing has grown to become loved by so many.
The event was historically attended exclusively by the extremely wealthy. A majority of the people who filled the stands owned horses themselves. In modern times, anybody can experience horse racing ownership, which aligns with how the sport has become open to a more diverse audience.
The perfect gift this Christmas could be racehorse shares ahead of the exciting action that will proceed in the new year. RaceShare, for example, has made it possible to part-own a horse by acquiring shares. This can even be gifted to horse racing fans to allow them to get closer to the sport than ever.
Ascot is one of the United Kingdom’s most prestigious races, and it hosts one of the biggest individual races in the Ascot Gold Cup. But what is perhaps even more significant is its development over centuries demonstrates how the sport managed to become mainstream.
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Royal Ascot defines British horse racing – no greater event awaits horse racing fans in and around London in 2024.
The Derby Festival
Held at Epsom Downs, the Derby Festival makes up the second part of a duo of huge races held in the London region each year.
The event takes place in Surrey, meaning it is easily accessible for fans located near the English capital.
Its most significant race, broadcast all over the globe, is the Epsom Derby. Several days of racing lead up to the landmark event, which is estimated to carry a total prize purse of around £2.5 million next year. This makes the Derby the most lucrative race on the British horse racing calendar.
Auguste Rodin this season:
🥶 12th in the 2,000 Guineas
🔥 1st in the Epsom Derby
🔥 1st in the Irish Derby
🥶 10th in the King George
🔥 1st in the Irish Champions Stakes
🔥 1st in the Breeders’ Cup Turf
— Racing Post (@RacingPost) November 4, 2023
When it comes to horse racing festivals in London, The Royal Ascot and the Derby Festival sit comfortably as the biggest events.
Some will argue Ascot is more prestigious due to its royal roots, and others believe Derby’s superior financial rewards make it the more significant event.
Both events undoubtedly play a key part in British and international horse racing. Their long histories mean that they have been a key part of the growth of the sport.
The London venues have seen the sport progress from being exclusive to the highly wealthy to becoming one of the most popular spectator sports across the entire nation.