Horse racing fans in the United Kingdom have plenty to look forward to in 2024, with the upcoming calendar packed with a host of top-class meetings.
Major National Hunt events bookend a plethora of important flat racing festivals, all of which offer punters a ton of opportunities to bash the bookmakers.
We look at the standout events in the 2024 horse racing calendar, before pinpointing some of the key races to watch out for over the next 12 months.
- Cheltenham Festival – Cheltenham – March 12-15.
- Grand National Festival – Aintree – April 11-13.
- Scottish Grand National Festival – Ayr – April 19-20.
- QIPCO Guineas Festival – Newmarket – May 3-5.
- York Dante Festival – May 15-17.
- The Derby Festival – Epsom – May 31 – June 1.
- Royal Ascot – Ascot – June 18-22.
- The July Festival – Newmarket – July 11-13.
- Glorious Goodwood – Goodwood – July 30 – August 3.
- York Ebor Festival – York – August 21-24.
- St Leger Festival – Doncaster – September 12-15.
- British Champions Day – Ascot – October 19.
- Cheltenham November Meeting – Cheltenham – November 15-17.
- Kempton Christmas Festival – Kempton – December 26-27.
A Year Full of Festivals
The Cheltenham Festival dominates the airwaves during the early part of the year, with the prestigious four-day meeting the undisputed highlight of the National Hunt calendar.
The meeting is headlined by four stellar Grade 1 events – the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase, Stayers’ Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Irish-trained runners overshadow their UK counterparts in many of the ante-post markets, but the home team will be eager to stop them in their tracks.
Grand Nationals in England and Scotland take centre stage in April, before the flat racing season gathers pace with the QIPCO Guineas Festival at Newmarket in early May.
There will be plenty of attention on the 2000 Guineas on the second day, with City Of Troy expected to be tough to beat for trainer Aidan O’Brien.
A victory in that race would have the bookies running for cover ahead of the Epsom Derby in June, with several respected judges rating the horse as a banker bet at odds of 5/2.
O’Brien will be the man to follow at Royal Ascot later the same month having previously trained a record 85 winners at the prestigious meeting.
Subsequent festivals at Newmarket, Goodwood and York keep the summer bandwagon rolling, before the St Leger meeting at Doncaster hogs the limelight in September.
The meeting may also feature City Of Troy, who is expected to attempt to become the first horse since Nijinsky (1970) to win the Triple Crown in the UK.
British Champions Day at Ascot in mid-October provides a fitting climax to major events on the flat, with the meeting featuring five championship races across different categories.
Attention then switches back to National Hunt racing, with the Cheltenham November Meeting serving as the first big event of the season.
The Paddy Power Gold Cup Handicap Chase is the headline race staged during the event and often serves as a pointer for important meetings further down the line.
Kempton’s prestigious two-day Christmas Festival is an excellent way to end to the year, with the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day the main attraction.
Legendary grey Desert Orchid is synonymous with the race, having emerged victorious on four occasions from 1986 to 1990.
However, his achievements were eventually usurped by Kauto Star, who claimed five victories for trainer Paul Nicholls from 2006 to 2011.
Nicholls has saddled the winner of the King George 13 times, and his runners at Kempton are always worth considering in the betting.
Michael specializes in journalism, digital content production and social media management. He has a passion for numerous sports including football, horse racing and ice hockey. Michael currently works on a freelance basis, producing daily content for various outlets within the sports industry.