We’re now a month into the new year and that means many of the biggest and most exciting sporting events are beginning to get back into the swing of things. Football fans have already been treated to plenty of action with Knowle starting 2024 well with a victory over AFC Coventry Rangers in January. In rugby, too, things have been heating up with the Solihull Bees winning 20-16 from behind against Coalville.
For fans of horse racing, there has already been plenty of action as it’s a sport that never truly stops. Across the globe, there are meetings taking place almost every day, but even here in the UK, there’s never a shortage of action.
But with the new year comes a new season of racing and there are many great meetings set to take place in the coming months. So if you’re excited to play the ponies in 2024, here are some of the top meetings scheduled in the first half of 2024.
The Cheltenham Festival is the first major jump racing event of the year and, for many fans, a celebration of the start of a new horse racing season. It also always coincides with St Patrick’s Day, making it a traditional celebration for Irish racing fans and any non-Irish fans who just want an excuse to party.
Cheltenham is also one of the biggest horse racing betting events of the year thanks to its prestigious history, proximity to St Patrick’s Day, and position at the start of the calendar. The biggest race on the card at Cheltenham is the Gold Cup, with betting markets already open. This far out, Galopin Des Champs is the clear favourite with odds of 1/1, with Fastorslow (4/1) and Gerri Colombe (8/1) in second and third. It can all change though between now and mid-March, which could make now a good time to pick up value on a horse that later becomes a favourite.
It takes place, as you’ve probably guessed, at Cheltenham Racecourse in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. The 2024 event will run from 12th March to 15th March, with the final day being the highlight of the week with the legendary Gold Cup race.
The Grand National
The Grand National is, by far, the biggest and most famous horse racing event in the country. While Cheltenham may be the first major meeting of the year and Royal Ascot features the King and other royalty, The Grand National is the one that everyone wants to watch and bet on.
Taking place at Aintree Racecourse from 11th-13th April, the Grand National is a steeplechase that runs over 4 miles and 514 yards, with horses tasked with navigating over 30 fences. Unlike most races on the calendar, the Grand National has an unusually large field with up to 40 entrants each year. This can make the start a little tricky for the horses and their jockeys.
With such prestige and fame, the Grand National is also one of the most bet-on races in British horse racing, which is why bookies already have odds available. Currently, Mahler Mission, Vanillier, and Corache Rambler are looking to be the favourites, so this could change dramatically in the coming weeks.
The Epsom Festival is another of the biggest horse races on the British calendar. Centred around the Derby Stakes (or Epsom Derby), the festival is a two-day event that takes place at Epsom Downs in Surrey.
The race has been held in Epsom since 1780, making it one of the oldest races still taking place today. It is, therefore, also one of the most prestigious events on the calendar as trainers and jockeys want to get their names included in the history books.
It’s also an incredibly accessible event, with fans even able to watch the races for free from the free-admission hill that boasts a festival atmosphere and attracts as many as 100,000 people over the two days.