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The Five Most Important Races in UK Horse Racing

The Five Most Important Races in UK Horse Racing

Although there are richer prizes on offer in horse racing – the Dubai World Cup and Kentucky Derby are just two that spring to mind, few have the prestige as the major renewals held on British soil.

That explains why trainers and owners from Europe and America are keen to travel to UK soil with their horses, in a bid to write their name into the sport’s folklore.

Of all the prestigious renewals in UK racing, here are the five most important.

Cheltenham Gold Cup

A top prize of $450,000 certainly helps to concentrate the mind ahead of this showpiece at the Cheltenham Festival.

But there’s also the prestige of winning one of National Hunt racing’s most important prizes, while the Cheltenham Festival bet of the meeting for many is the Gold Cup.

There are so many outstanding horses in the Gold Cup, so the Cheltenham betting tips columns tend to be split when predicting who will prevail – although Irish-trained horses, who won five editions of the race between 2019 and 2023, tend to be the most fancied. Galopin Des Champs is an even money favorite to make it six in 2024.

Grand National

As if the excitement of the Cheltenham Festival wasn’t enough, just a couple of weeks later comes the Grand National meeting at Aintree.

There are three days of action, but it’s the Grand National itself that takes the majority of the interest – this is one of the most challenging steeplechases on the planet.

Contested over the famous Aintree fences, which include The Chair and Becher’s Brook, the Grand National is a four-and-a-bit mile slog typically on soft ground – the winning connections certainly earn their $630,000 payday.

Epsom Derby

The UK has a rich history of Flat racing – with The Derby one of the jewels in the crown of the summer programme.

With a top prize of $1.1 million to the winner, this one-and-a-half-mile major race has attracted some of the finest horses from Britain, Ireland, France, and farther afield.

The Derby was first run in 1780, so this is a prestigious race with a whole host of history!

2,000 Guineas

Along with The Derby and the next race on this list, the 2,000 Guineas forms part of the Triple Crown of racing in the UK.

That in itself is a guarantee of prestige, but to win the 2,000 Guineas and The Derby in the same season is considered a feat of some honor – Camelot was the last horse to do so in 2012.

St Leger

The third leg of the Triple Crown takes place towards the end of the Flat season in September, giving owners and trainers something to work towards as they decide upon their horses’ schedules.

The St Leger is open to both male (colts) and female (fillies) participants, giving the race the unique distinction of forming part of both the Triple Crown and the Fillies’ Triple Crown and being recognized as one of the British racing Classics.

Often run on firmer ground at the end of the British summer, the St Leger is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it major that awards the winner around $550,000 in prize money.

There are plenty of other standout fixtures in UK racing, but few can match the prestige and the prize fund of the quintet mentioned above.

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