The so-called sport of kings has many attractions besides the sporting action on display, with horse racing meetings regularly tying in events like music concerts to attract a wider range of audience. Also, due to the area of land needed to facilitate horse racing, British racecourses are often located in some of the most picturesque places in the UK. Here we identify three of the most scenic British racecourses, noting their positions geographically and biggest race meetings.
Aintree will forever be synonymous with Britain’s most famous race – the Grand National. Over 150,000 patrons regularly flock to Aintree for their three-day Grand National meeting, with the Grand National’s popularity resulting in the race regularly topping the list of biggest betting races of the year. Tiger Roll and Cloth Cap are currently leading the Aintree 2021 ante-post betting, but competition is fierce in this storied race so there are a number of strong contenders. Located in Merseyside, Aintree racecourse is unique in having a course with fences specifically used for the Grand National, as well as a separate course for their other meetings staged throughout the year.
Located in the village of Cartmel, Cumbria, Cartmel Racecourse is one of the lesser-known British racecourses. Cartmel actual plays host to less than a dozen racedays a year, with its two-day July meeting – featuring the £40,000 Cumbria Crystal Hurdle – its best-known fixture. Cartmel holds the title of having the longest run-in (distance between the last fence and the finish line) in Britain at just over four furlongs. Alongside the racing, Cartmel has funfair-style entertainment available on racedays. Somewhat unusually, Cartmel never hosts back-to-back race meetings. This is due to the time needed to turn the racecourse around for consecutive meetings, with racegoers often staying late into the night.
Set against the backdrop of the English Lake District, Cartmel is undoubtedly one of the most visually appealing racecourse settings in Britain, and for the sweet-toothed race fans, it is worth noting that Cartmel is famous for Sticky Toffee Puddings – with winning connections of any horse at Cartmel Racecourse receiving a Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding as a prize.
One of only five racecourses in Scotland, Perth Racecourse is set in the stunning parklands of Scone Palace. Holding the title of Britain’s most northerly racecourse, Perth hosts a total of fourteen race days – all of which are held between April and September. Perth’s Gold Cup Day remains their most important fixture in the calendar, with the three-mile event worth over £15,000 to the winner. Scone Palace – the castle just a stone’s throw from Perth Racecourse – was the coronation place of many Scottish monarchs, and it remains one of Scotland’s major tourist attractions.
Although Aintree, Cartmel and Perth represent an extremely small sample size of British racecourses, they each provide stunning scenery. So, whether you’re watching the Grand National live from Aintree, heading up to Perth for the Gold Cup, or even taking in a Sticky Toffee Pudding on the way back from a day at Cartmel races, all three are considered a must-visit.