3 sophisticated UK horseracing events you really shouldn’t miss

Spring and summer are fast approaching and a day at the races is a quintessentially English way to spend a gloriously fun-filled day.  What could be better than an afternoon of Pimms or Champagne and strawberries, as Ladies in wide brimmed hats and gentlemen in Panama hats, suits and cravats ooze style and sophistication?

Try something new; enjoy a luxurious day watching a majestic sport.

Goodwood

Goodwood has been home to horse racing since 1802. A beautiful estate that has been owned by British aristocracy for three decades, it’s home not only to the renowned flat race course, but also a grand stately home steeped in history. With a motor car racecourse and beautiful country landscapes to boot, Goodwood racecourse is renowned as one of the most beautiful in the world!

Glorious Goodwood – a festival showcasing some of the best international horse racing – starts on 30th July 2013. Last year, over ten thousand people enjoyed this fabulous event. Goodwood really is a must, not just for the racing but as a social occasion; even if you’re a novice to the horse racing world, there’s nothing like dressing up, enjoying some Champagne and being swept up cheering on the horse you have picked as it thunders down the final furlong. And, if you are lucky, collecting your winnings makes for an exciting atmosphere like nothing you’ve experienced.

Book your tickets, study your cards and take a few ‘flutters’ on the horses that take your fancy.

Ascot

World-famous and home to many horse race meetings every year, Ascot has been hosting race meets since 1711. These include Royal Ascot (held in June), and more recently Champions day (which includes the final five stages of the British Champions series and is held at the end of the season in October). With strong links to the Royal family who attend each year, Royal Ascot is a highly prestigious event.

With eighteen group races over the five days that make up Royal Ascot, you will be treated to the finest of world-class racing with some of the most famous names in horse racing taking part.

Each day, members of the Royal family arrive by horse drawn carriage; if you want to catch a glimpse, look out for the Royal procession.

Ladies, take note of the famed Ladies’ Day: officially the Gold Cup day, dress appropriately and take part in the seasons most glamorous day!

Aintree

Home to the Grand National since 1839, most of the United Kingdom gets drawn into the excitement of this staple (or should that be stable!) of the race calendar. While the public’s imagination is well and truly caught with the famous steeplechase, the race course has changed hands a number of times over past decades. It hit a low point in the 1970s when the then new owner faced the lowest attendance numbers in its history when he increased ticket prices three-fold, but later struck a deal with a well-known bookmaker to manage the race course. In the 1980s, the owner looked to sell up: the potential loss of this venue as a historic race course sparked the racing community into action, and a national appeal was launched to purchase the course and ensure its future.

Aintree and the Grand National are probably best known when Red Rum, a locally trained horse, stole the race in the closing seconds and then went on to break records by winning over the next three years. His body was laid to rest next to the winning post and is still visited by fans today.

Usually held in April, the Grand National features notoriously high fences, such as Becher’s Brook: it’s a race that not only tests both horse and rider, but is a fantastic sight to behold for spectators.

These are just three of my personal favourites, but with racecourses all over the country, pick a meet that takes your fancy and enjoy a sophisticated and social day out with family and friends.

Mark Davis is Search Marketing Director at HomeAway.

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