For lovers of the turf everywhere, I’ve selected everything you need. From a behind the scenes look at a top stables to days out at your favourite track where you can have a great day out and a bit of a flutter too. Go on, fill your boots!
Alasdair’s recommended horse racing experience
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I’ve picked this special day for horse racing enthusiasts – spend the morning at the Lambourn stables of top trainer Charlie Mann, have breakfast with a jockey, watch the horses on the gallops and learn the secrets of what goes on behind the scenes.
And when you’ve seen how it all works, and got a few tips straight from the horse’s mouth, then check out your favourite racecourses on this list and capitalise on your inside gen on The
sport of Kings.
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Horse racing in Britain
Did you know that there are 59 racecourses in the UK, from Perth in Scotland to Newton Abbot in Devon, so wherever you live in Mainland Britain, there’ll be a racecourse not far away to give you that good day out you so enjoy.
Racecourses vary quite a bit in the facilities they provide, with the bigger ones obviously able to offer more facilities and side-attractions, but what they all have in common is that they offer a top-class day’s entertainment with some of the finest thoroughbreds in the world being put through their paces by some of the world’s finest jockeys.
It’s a spectacle second to none, giving colour, atmosphere, and above all excitement as the horse you fancied and backed passes the post (hopefully) ahead of the field!
The Sport of Kings
Horse racing is almost as old as the horse itself.
For as long as men have been breaking and riding horses, the need to prove which horse and rider were fastest and the age-old temptation to lay wagers have meant that horses have been raced in competition.
The Ancient Egyptians and Greeks have long been known to love horse racing, and it’s widely believed that the sport was introduced to Britain by the Ancient Romans who famously raced at York. Unearthed artefacts in excavations around York depict horse races and show clear evidence of horse-racing motifs, leaving little doubt about it.
As civilization progressed, so did horse racing become more organized and formal, with the type of race meetings that we know today dating from the 17th century.
Modern colourful silks, full-time professional jockeys and multifarious on-course amenities have rendered the racing game more of a spectacular than ever and given it that nerve-tingling excitement that’s unmatched by any other sporting event. And with the ready availability of meetings throughout the year at one or another of the nation’s 59 courses, live attendance at horse racing meetings has never been so popular.
Many lovers of the turf make numerous visits each year to meetings around the country either in groups of like-minded friends, or alone – you can usually rely on meeting again a few of the people you saw at the last meeting! And supporting live racing on a regular basis is a very popular pastime indeed. You may make a lot of money betting on the right horses, or you may not, but that really is part of the charm. It’s nice when you win, but winning is by no means essential to enjoying yourself. Odds are calculated pretty scientifically these days, so you can be sure that an odds-on horse or a long-shot is that way for a reason – though that’s not to say that you may not profit from the occasional surprise winner.
Racing is a year-round sport, on the flat in the summer and over the sticks in the winter, with very few conditions that the horses can’t run in.
So check out the courses near you, treat yourself to the behind the scenes tour of the trainer’s stables if you possibly can, then just get out there and go for it.