Biggest Horse Racing Events in the UK in 2024

Horse racing is one of the biggest sports to follow in the United Kingdom, with the sector generating around £3.3 billion to the economy. Some of the biggest horse racing events in the UK have amassed worldwide followings, with international visitors typically in attendance for the Cheltenham Festival and Royal Ascot.

The racing calendar ensures that there is at least one massive event per month in the sport, but what massive events can fans of the sport look ahead to between now and December?

Grand National

The world’s most famous jumps race will be staged in mid-April, with Aintree Racecourse hosting the iconic Grand National. The field in this race will compete over four miles, tackling a total of 30 fences around two circuits of the iconic track.

This race has been staged since 1839, and it boasts a purse of £1 million, making it the world’s richest jumps race. Some of the legends of horse racing have won the Grand National throughout their careers, including Red Rum and Tiger Roll. Corach Rambler gave Lucinda Russell a second victory in the race in 2023, and he will be a hot favourite to defend his title at Aintree this year.

Find wagers for the Grand National here:

Guineas Meeting

Following the Grand National, all attention turns to the flat, with the first Classic of the season being staged at Newmarket across the first weekend in May. The 2,000 Guineas covers the shortest distance of the five Classics in the United Kingdom, with the field of horses aged three competing over a mile on the Rowley Mile course.

Connections typically don’t target victories in all of the Triple Crown races, with stars from the Derby typically having preferred later season targets than the St Leger.

Epsom Derby

The most significant Classic of the season takes place at Epsom Downs, with the Derby being staged on the first Saturday in June. It is significantly longer in distance than the 2,000 Guineas, with the field completing a total distance of one mile and four furlongs. It is the middle leg of the Triple Crown, and is the richest Classic on the calendar for connections.

The event attracts a global audience from around the world, and the name of the race has been adopted by various other countries, such as the Kentucky Derby, Italian Derby, and German Derby.

Royal Ascot

One of the biggest social horse racing events of the year takes place in mid-June, with Royal Ascot attracting worldwide visitors to the premier flat festival on the calendar. The event has been staged since 1768, with four days of racing now making it the most visited flat festival on the UK schedule.

Furthermore, it is also the most lucrative for connections, with over £7.3 million available in prize money. The standout race of the week comes in the form of the Ascot Gold Cup, which is open to horses aged four and over, with a total distance of two miles and four covered.

Champions Day

Champions Day is also staged at Ascot, with the October event bringing the curtain down on the flat season. It was established in 2011, and is similar to the Breeders’ Cup, which is staged in the United States every November.

Champions Day crowns the five champions from the different divisions in the United Kingdom, and it is the richest day of racing action in the United Kingdom with a total of £4 million up for grabs in prize money. The Champion Stakes is the most lucrative race, worth £1.3 million.

Paddy Power Gold Cup Day

With the curtain drawn on the flat, the jumps stars see the popularity of racing increase once again. The second day of racing at Cheltenham every season comes in November, with the Paddy Power Gold Cup forming the feature.

The race covers a total distance of two miles and four, and it is typically one of the most open handicaps of the season. Il Ridoto was a good winner of the race in 2023, with Gay Trip, Cyfor Malta, and Bradbury Star among the runners that have won the race on more than one occasion.

Kempton Christmas Festival

Boxing Day is all about high-quality racing in the United Kingdom, with the Kempton Christmas Festival being one of the standout festive events on the calendar. The Christmas Hurdle has been dominated by Constitution Hill in recent years, while the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase is one of the most competitive novice events on the calendar.

However, the feature of the meet is the prestigious King George VI Chase. This race has been run since 1937, and is a Boxing Day tradition for many. It is a notable prep for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, with many runners later taking on the feature race at the Cheltenham Festival.