Which Group One races are run at Royal Ascot?

Which Group One races are run at Royal Ascot?  Royal Ascot is, of course, a highlight of the British sporting and social calendar. Remarkably, though, as recently as 1999, the Royal Meeting featured just three highest category, Group One races. Those races were the St. James’s Palace Stakes, Gold Cup and Coronation Stakes.

However, in the interim, several races have gained, or regained, Group One status and, in 2015, Royal Ascot was extended from four days to five to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. At that point, a new Group One race, the Commonwealth Cup, run over six furlongs and restricted to three-year-olds, was added to the programme, making a total of eight in all.

In addition to the aforementioned races, the Prince of Wales’s Stakes was upgraded to Group One status in 2000, as were the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, formerly the Cork & Orrery Stakes, in 2002 and the Queen Anne Stakes in 2003. In 2005, the King’s Stand Stakes, which had previously held Group One status between 1973 and 1988, before being downgraded, became part of the so-called ‘Global Sprint Challenge’. As such, the five-furlong contest attracted a strong international entry, as a result of which it was upgraded to Group One status again in 2008.

Which British racecourse was the first to stage National Hunt racing?

Which British racecourse was the first to stage National Hunt racing?  In the summer of 2014, Jockey Club Racecourses, which owns Warwick Racecourse, announced that, from 2015 onwards, only National Hunt fixtures would be staged at the picturesque West Midlands venue. While not quite going full circle, Warwick was, in fact, the first British racecourse to include a hurdle race in its programme, as recorded in the Racing Calendar, in 1831.

Established in its current location in 1707, in recent years Warwick Racecourse has been better known for its National Hunt races, especially steeplechases, in any case. Seasonal highlights include the Grade 2 Kingmaker Novices’ Chase, run over 2 miles in February, and the Grade 3 Classic Chase, run over 3 miles 5 furlongs in January; the latter serves as a trial for the Grand National.

Ian Renton, Regional Director at the Jockey Club, said that Warwick could ‘now benefit from a clear identity’ but, following the fatal fall of Artful Lady in a six-furlong handicap in May, 2014, racecourse officials had already said that they had ‘lost confidence’ in portions of the Flat course. Veteran National Hunt trainer Nicky Henderson described Warwick as the home of ‘good, competitive jumps racing’ and welcomed the Jockey Club Racecourses’ decision as ‘a huge benefit’ to the sport.

Did Newmarket once have a National Hunt course?

Did Newmarket once have a National Hunt course?  The simple answer is yes, it did. In the latter years of the nineteenth century, on what is now the Links National Hunt Training Grounds, Colonel Harry McCalmont, who owned the Cheveley Park Estate, laid out a steeplechase course. The first meeting at the course took place on November 29, 1894 and the last on December 28, 1905, three years after the death of McCalmont. Principal races during that period included the Newmarket Grand Military Cup, the Cheveley Cup and the National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup, which would later become a fixture of the National Hunt Meeting at Cheltenham.

Although not in Newmarket itself, National Hunt meetings were staged in the nearby village of Moulton from February 20, 1863 onwards. After a lengthy hiatus, National Hunt racing was revived, albeit briefly, on land owned by Captain James Machell, five miles from Newmarket, in 1879. The two-day meeting, staged on March 20 and March 21, featured the Lanwades Hunters’ Chase and the Trainers’ and Jockey Club Cup, both run over three miles. Thereafter, National Hunt lapsed again until returning, on a more permanent basis, in Newmarket 15 years later.

Machell, though, would find further fame as an owner and trainer of Grand National winners. He owned and trained the 1873 and 1874 winners, Disturbance and Reugny, and owned the 1876 winner, Regal.

Which are the top five racecourses in the United Kingdom?

Which are the top five racecourses in the United Kingdom?  The United Kingdom is home to 60 racecourses, Flat and National Hunt, spread across the length and breadth of the country, from Perth in Central Scotland to Newton Abbot in South West England. Each racecourse is officially graded on the total amount it is allocated, annually, in General Prize Fund (GPF) grants from the Horseracing Betting Levy Board (HBLB). Such grants are based on how much each racecourse contributes to prize money and how much off-course betting turnover it generates, so can be used as an objective, empirical measure of the ‘top’ racecourses in the country. Based on GPF grants, in 2020, the top five racecourses in the United Kingdom were Ascot, Cheltenham, Newmarket, York and Goodwood.

Ascot

Situated just six miles from Windsor Castle, Ascot Racecourse was founded by Queen Anne in 1711 and has been associated with the British Royal Family ever since. Royal Ascot, staged annually over five days in mid-June, hosts eight of the 36 Group 1 races run in Britain each year, while British Champions’ Day, in October, hosts another four. Of course, Ascot Racecourse is dual-purpose and, during the winter months, stages three Grade 1 National Hunt races.

Cheltenham

Synonymous with the Cheltenham Festival, staged annually over four days in March, Cheltenham Racecourse is the undisputed home of National Hunt racing. The 14 Grade 1 races run at the Cheltenham Festival include the Champion Hurdle, Queen Month Champion Chase, Stayers’ Hurdle and the ‘Blue Riband’ event, the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Newmarket

Colloquially, Newmarket Racecourse is known as ‘Headquarters’ and is home to the Rowley Mile Course, used in the spring and autumn, and the July Course, used in the summer. Collectively, the courses host nine Group 1 races during the season, including two ‘Classics’, the 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas, run on the Rowley Mile Course on consecutive days in late Apri or early May.

York

Built on area of flat, low-lying ground, known as the ‘Knavesmire’, close to the city centre, York Racecourse has hosted horse racing since 1731 but, nowadays, is one of the premier racecourses in Europe.Seasonal highlights include the Juddmonte International Stakes, Yorkshire Oaks, Nunthorpe Stakes and the most valuable Flat handicap in Europe, the Ebor Handicap. All four race are run during the ‘Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival’, staged annually in August.

Goodwood

Synonymous with another highlight of the British sporting and social calendar, the five-day Goodwood Festival, a.k.a. ‘Glorious Goodwood’, Goodwood Racecourse is set high on the Sussex Downs and billed as ‘The most beautiful racecourse in the world’. Racing highlights include the Goodwood Cup, Sussex Stakes and Nassau Stakes, all of which are Group 1 contests.

 

 

 

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