UK horse racing

Racing Online - UK horse racing

Horse racing is the core wagering sport in betting offices in the United Kingdom and an important element of the service provided by online bookmakers. Horse racing and related services in the supply chain are major employers and make a significant contribution to the UK economy. Racing attracts the second-highest number of spectators of any sport in the UK, after football. The major carnivals and festivals on the Flat and over jumps have an international appeal and are important dates in the sporting calendar in Britain and Ireland. The interest in the sport has created a need for profitable UK horse racing tips.

UK horse racing betting

In many countries, it is possible to bet on UK horse racing offline in licensed betting offices. However, there has been a big shift to online UK horse racing betting sites in recent years. The online market for UK horse racing is dominated by established betting brands who also have a retail division and newer operators who only offer internet betting. Horse racing is still the core product in betting shops in the UK despite the growth of sports betting, numbers and bingo games and fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs). Bettors who navigate to online sports betting expect a decent UK horse racing service and the well-known UK betting brands meet these expectations.

UK Horse Racing

Best bookmakers for UK horse racing odds

The best UK horse racing bookmakers include the following operators, listed in alphabetical order:

  • Bet365
  • Betfair
  • Betfred
  • BetVictor
  • Betway
  • Coral
  • Ladbrokes
  • Paddy Power
  • SkyBet
  • William Hill

These bookmakers mainly serve the British and Irish markets, but there are hundreds of betting sites worldwide that run UK horse racing odds. A number of online bookmakers provide live streaming of UK horse racing for registered customers who fund their account and place a bet. Live betting, or in-play betting, is available on UK horse racing with a number of online operators. This service includes races over short distances which are completed in as little as one minute.

Best betting apps for UK racing

Most of the major operators that offer betting on UK horse racing have launched downloadable mobile apps. The best betting apps can be downloaded from the appropriate stores for iOS and Android devices. The website can be installed on mobile phones and tablets as long as the browser is mobile-optimised. The top betting apps also allow users to claim any available horse racing bonuses and enjoy the benefits of ongoing promotions for existing customers. Betting apps have a live betting interface and some offer live streaming of UK horse racing as part of the service.

UK racing bonuses and free bets

Customers can activate a wide range of free bets and bonuses at online bookmakers that cover UK horse racing. Many racing bookies offer welcome packages for new players that may include deposit matches, bet matches, or no-deposit bonuses. Potential new customers must register, make a qualifying deposit, or place a qualifying bet to activate the best UK horse racing bonuses. The signup procedure may also require punters to enter a promo code or bonus code to claim the bonus or free bets. All UK horse racing promotions come with terms and conditions, which may include wagering requirements and qualifying bets at minimum odds. The best free bets and bonuses provide a good incentive to register, deposit funds and bet on UK horse racing.

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History UK horse racing

Organised horse racing has taken place in Britain since 1519, though there were unofficial races and matches during the Roman era and up to the Middle Ages. Interest in horse racing grew during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, which saw the sport become more formalised during the next century when many racecourses and races were established. The Grand National was first run in 1839, enclosures were created and festivals were added to the programme. All-Weather racing and evening fixtures have been the major developments of UK horse racing in the modern era. Betting offices first showed live TV racing in the 1980s when previously there had only been an audio service. All UK horse racing fixtures are now streamed live online.

Grand NationalThe Grand National

Who runs UK horse racing?

The governing body for horse racing in the UK is the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). This organisation and former bodies took over from The Jockey Club as the regulator for the sport in 2006. The Jockey Club is now a commercial organisation that owns and runs 15 racecourses in the UK, including major venues such as Aintree, Cheltenham and Epsom.

The BHA’s objectives are to “provide the most compelling and attractive racing in the world; be seen as the world leader in race day regulation; ensure the highest standards for the sport and participants, on and away from the racecourse; promote the best for the racehorse and represent and promote the sport and the industry”.

The sport also receives input from owners, sponsors and horsemen’s group. There are different vested interests which have led to disagreements and contention. The BHA is now the umbrella organisation that tries to bring together the various interested parties for the overall benefit of horse racing in the UK.

How does UK horse racing work?

Horse racing is a 12-month sport in the UK. The only blank days are Christmas Day and a few other dates around the winter holidays. In 2019, the racing industry contributed almost £4 billion to the British economy. One of the appeals of the sport in the UK is diversity in the types of racing and tracks. The mechanics of British horse racing can be broken down into three key areas, as outlined below.

Types of UK horse races

There are three types of UK thoroughbred races.

  • Flat
    Races are run over distances from five furlongs to two miles and six furlongs. There are no obstacles and horses start from stalls, with each runner’s starting position determined by a draw.
  • National Hunt
    National Hunt or jumps races are run over distances from about two miles to four miles and three furlongs. The obstacles are hurdles, fences and fixed brush hurdles. There are a small number of cross-country races in which horses jump a variety of obstacles. National Hunt Flat races, known as bumpers, are Flat races for horses bred for the jumps, over about two miles.
  • All-Weather
    Racing takes place on artificial sand-based surfaces. This type of racing is always run on the Flat and with no hurdles or fences.
All-Weather SurfaceAll-Weather

UK horse racing seasons

There are three elements of the UK horse racing calendar:

  • Jumps – May to April (12 months)
  • Flat – March to November (nine months)
  • All-Weather – January to December (12 months)

All UK horse racing fixtures take place under one of these codes.

UK horse racing titles

The title dates for jockeys, trainers and owners do not always correspond with the elements of the UK horse racing season. Jockey titles are awarded based on the total amount of winners ridden, while trainers and owners are graded according to the amount of prize money won.

  • National Hunt – May to April
    • Jockey – winners
    • Trainer – prize money
    • Owner – prize money
  • Flat – May to October
    • Jockey – winners
    • Trainer – prize money
    • Owner – prize money
  • All-Weather – October to April
    • Jockey – winners
    • Trainer – prize money
    • Owner – prize money

UK horse racing personnel

The most active and significant personnel in UK horse racing on race day are the jockeys, trainers, stable staff and owners. These individuals are known collectively as the ‘connections’. The UK horse racing owners could be a syndicate, which is a group of people who share the expense and prize money. Connections gather in the centre of the parade ring before the race. Horses are led around the parade ring by stable staff before and after the jockeys mount. Connections of the winner and placed horses meet in the unsaddling enclosure after the race. The winning owners are presented with a trophy and the jockey, trainer and stable staff are given commemorative prizes. In some races there is a prize given to stable staff for the horse that is best turned out. This UK pre-race and post-race procedure is replicated in other racing jurisdictions around the world.

Here is more information about UK horse racing jockeys, trainers and owners:

UK horse racing jockeys

British champion Flat jockeys over the last five years:

Year Name Winners
2019 Oisin Murphy 168
2018 Silvestre de Sousa 148
2017 Silvestre de Sousa 155
2016 Jim Crowley 148
2015 Silvestre de Sousa 132

British champion jumps jockeys over the last five years:

Year Name Winners
2019-20 Brian Hughes 141
2018-19 Richard Johnson 200
2017-18 Richard Johnson 176
2016-17 Richard Johnson 180
2015-16 Richard Johnson 235

British champion All-Weather jockeys over the last five years:

Year Name Winners
2019-20 Ben Curtis 101
2018-19 Adam Kirby 69
2017-18 Luke Morris 73
2016-17 Adam Kirby 74
2015-16 Luke Morris 86

UK horse racing trainers

British champion Flat trainers over the last five years:

Year Name
2019 John Gosden
2018 John Gosden
2017 Aidan O’Brien
2016 Aidan O’Brien
2015 John Gosden

British champion jumps trainers over the last five years:

Year Name
2019-20 Nicky Henderson
2018-19 Paul Nicholls
2017-18 Nicky Henderson
2016-17 Nicky Henderson
2015-16 Paul Nicholls

British champion All-Weather trainers over the last five years:

Year Name
2019-20 Michael Appleby
2018-19 Michael Appleby
2017-18 Michael Appleby
2016-17 Mark Johnston
2015-16 Michael Appleby

UK horse racing tracks

Attractions of UK horse races include the variety of UK horse racing courses, the range of feature races over jumps and on the Flat, and the diverse racing festivals across both main codes. Besides the dedicated venues for Flat, National Hunt and All-Weather racing, there are also mixed tracks that offers both jumps and Flat racing.

UK Flat racing courses

  • Bath
  • Beverley
  • Brighton
  • Chester
  • Epsom Downs
  • Goodwood
  • Hamilton
  • Newmarket
  • Nottingham
  • Pontefract
  • Redcar
  • Ripon
  • Salisbury
  • Thirsk
  • Windsor
  • Yarmouth
  • York

UK jumps racing courses

  • Aintree
  • Bangor-on-Dee
  • Cartmel
  • Cheltenham
  • Exeter
  • Fakenham
  • Fontwell
  • Hereford
  • Hexham
  • Huntingdon
  • Kelso
  • Ludlow
  • Market Rasen
  • Newton Abbot
  • Perth
  • Plumpton
  • Sedgefield
  • Stratford
  • Taunton
  • Towcester
  • Uttoxeter
  • Wincanton
  • Worcester

Mixed UK horse racing courses

  • Ascot
  • Ayr
  • Carlisle
  • Catterick
  • Chepstow
  • Doncaster
  • Ffos Las
  • Haydock
  • Leicester
  • Musselburgh
  • Newbury
  • Sandown Park
  • Warwick
  • Wetherby

UK All-Weather horse racing courses

  • Chelmsford City
  • Kempton
  • Lingfield
  • Newcastle
  • Southwell
  • Wolverhampton

Major UK horse racing events

The UK feature races are Group 1 races on the Flat and Grade 1 races over jumps. There are also Group 2 and Group 3 Flat races and Grade 2 and Grade 3 jumps races. Listed races are the next level down on the Flat but there is no equivalent over jumps. There are major heritage handicaps in both codes, which mainly take place at the big festival UK horse racing meetings.

The most prestigious Flat races are the Classics: 2,000 Guineas, 1,000 Guineas, Oaks, Derby and St Leger. The most important jumps races take place at the Cheltenham Festival in March: Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase, Stayers’ Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup. The Ebor is the richest Flat handicap in Europe and the Grand National is the most famous jumps race in the world.

UK Group 1 Flat races

Race Name Month Track
2,000 Guineas May Newmarket
1,000 Guineas May Newmarket
Lockinge Stakes May Newbury
Coronation Cup June Epsom
Oaks Stakes June Epsom
Derby Stakes June Epsom
Queen Anne Stakes June Ascot
King’s Stand Stakes June Ascot
St James’s Palace Stakes June Ascot
Prince of Wales’s Stakes June Ascot
Gold Cup June Ascot
Commonwealth Cup June Ascot
Diamond Jubilee Stakes June Ascot
Eclipse Stakes July Sandown
Falmouth Stakes July Newmarket
July Cup July Newmarket
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes July Ascot
Goodwood Cup August Goodwood
Sussex Stakes August Goodwood
Nassau Stakes August Goodwood
International Stakes August York
Yorkshire Oaks August York
Nunthorpe Stakes August York
Sprint Cup September Haydock
St Leger Stakes September Doncaster
Cheveley Park Stakes September Newmarket
Middle Park Stakes September Newmarket
Sun Chariot Stakes October Newmarket
Fillies’ Mile October Newmarket
Dewhurst Stakes October Newmarket
British Champions Sprint Stakes October Ascot
British Champions Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes October Ascot
Queen Elizabeth II Stakes October Ascot
Champion Stakes October Ascot
Futurity Trophy October Doncaster

UK Group 1 jumps races

Race Name Month Track
Challow Novices’ Hurdle January Newbury
Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle January Sandown
Clarence House Chase January Ascot
Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase January Sandown
Ascot Chase February Ascot
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle March Cheltenham
Arkle Challenge Trophy March Cheltenham
Champion Hurdle March Cheltenham
Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle March Cheltenham
Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle March Cheltenham
RSA Novices’ Chase March Cheltenham
Queen Mother Champion Chase March Cheltenham
Champion Bumper March Cheltenham
Marsh Novices’ Chase March Cheltenham
Ryanair Chase March Cheltenham
Stayers’ Hurdle March Cheltenham
Triumph Hurdle March Cheltenham
Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle March Cheltenham
Cheltenham Gold Cup March Cheltenham
Manifesto Novices’ Chase April Aintree
Anniversary 4-Y-O Novices’ Hurdle April Aintree
Betway Bowl April Aintree
Aintree Hurdle April Aintree
Top Novices’ Hurdle April Aintree
Mildmay Novices’ Chase April Aintree
Melling Chase April Aintree
Sefton Novices’ Hurdle April Aintree
Mersey Novices’ Hurdle April Aintree
Maghull Novices’ Chase April Aintree
Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle April Aintree
Celebration Chase April Sandown
Betfair Chase November Haydock
Fighting Fifth Hurdle December Newcastle
Henry VIII Novices’ Chase December Sandown
Tingle Creek Chase December Sandown
Long Walk Hurdle December Ascot
Kauto Star Novices’ Chase December Kempton
Christmas Hurdle December Kempton
Finale Juvenile Hurdle December Chepstow

UK Flat racing festivals

Royal Ascot is the most prestigious Flat meeting in the world. It is as much a social occasion as a race meeting and the Queen of the United Kingdom attends each day. The Royal Ascot meeting features 30 races over five days during the third week in June. The meeting brings together the best horses from the UK, other parts of Europe and the rest of the world.

Glorious Goodwood is a summer festival over five days at the end of July and the start of August. There has been a significant boost in prize money in recent years, and that has improved the overall quality of the horses and races. The highlight is the Sussex Stakes, which is a mile race for horses aged three and older.

The York Ebor meeting is staged over four days in the middle of August. The signature race is the Ebor Handicap, which has a prize fund of £1,000,000 and is a trial for the Melbourne Cup. The International Stakes is one of the best Flat races in the world based on ratings and the Yorkshire Cup is one of the major staying races of the season.

UK jumps racing festivals

The Kempton Christmas Festival takes place on Boxing Day and the following day. It features the second-most important hurdle and chase after the Champion Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup. The winners of the Christmas Hurdle and King George VI Chase often become the favourites for the championship races at Cheltenham a few months later.

The Cheltenham Festival is the biggest betting meeting of the year in the UK. The four-day carnival in the second or third week of March brings together the best jumps horses trained in Britain and Ireland. There are championship races for hurdlers and chasers over a variety of distances, as well as a cross-country race, a champion bumper and competitive handicaps.

The Aintree Grand National meeting has developed into the second-most important jumps card of the season. It is staged in the first week of April unless that coincides with Easter, in which case the meeting is pushed back a week. The three-day festival features 12 Group 1 races, the most famous of which is the Grand National Steeplechase.