Five reasons to immerse yourself in horse racing this spring

The 2022 renewal of the Cheltenham Festival lived up to everyone’s extremely high expectations. With racegoers back in attendance for the first time in two years, there was a lot of anticipation in the build up to the four-day meeting, but there were absolutely zero disappointments as high-quality racing, plenty of drama and a fair share of sunshine in the latter half of the week kept the boisterous crowds entertained at Prestbury Park. 

With the dust settling on Cheltenham Racecourse’s hallowed grounds, we have almost reached the summit of the 2021-22 jump racing season. But why suffer with the Cheltenham blues when there is still so much horse racing action to get your teeth stuck into over the next couple of months? That said, read on as we give you five reasons to immerse yourself in the thrilling sport this spring! 

  • The Grand National Festival

The Cheltenham Festival has been and gone for another year, but that means the Grand National Festival is just around the corner! Much of the Aintree meeting is often overlooked due to the sheer magnitude of the National itself, with millions of once-a-year punters betting on horse racing for the ultimate test of horse and rider — which is due to take place on April 9th

However, there is much more to enjoy at the festival than just Grand National. In fact, there are nine Grade 1 races spread out across the course of the three-day event — including the Bowl, The Liverpool Hurdle, the Mildmay Novices’ Steeple Chase and the Aintree Hurdle. With racegoers back in attendance for the first time since 2019, the atmosphere promises to be on the same scale as Cheltenham.

  • The Jump Finale Day

Celebrate the conclusion of another fantastic British National Hunt racing campaign with the Jump Finale at Sandown Park on April 23rd. With a fantastic seven-race card, there is plenty to keep you entertained — including the Grade 1 Celebration Chase, which often features several of the British entries from the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham earlier in the year, and the Sandown Gold Cup.

As well as high-quality racing and a carnival-like atmosphere to sign off the season in style, there is also an award ceremony to give credit to the standout horses of this fantastic jump racing campaign. 

  • The Punchestown Festival

A Cheltenham Festival 2.0 in many ways, the Punchestown Festival marks the end of the Irish jump racing season. Featuring a huge 12 Grade 1 races, the cream of the crop of Irish racing head to County Kildare for the five-day meeting and stars of the recent Cheltenham Festival will be aplenty — including the likes of Gold Cup winner A Plus Tard and shock Mares’ Hurdle winning Marie’s Rock, who won the Grade 1 from 18/1 for Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville. 

There is already talk of some very juicy encounters at this year’s Punchestown Festival, with runaway Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Constitution Hill and the unbeaten Honeysuckle potentially going head-to-head, while Shishkin and Energumene could settle their rivalry, which now stands at one a piece for the season after the former was pulled up in a major shock at Cheltenham. 

  • The Guineas Festival

With the jump season over, the onus will quickly turn to the start of the major flat racing meetings and the prestigious Guineas Festival at Newmarket kicks things off, with an exciting three days of racing taking place on the iconic Rowley Mile between 29th April and May 1st. New for 2022, day one of the meeting boasts seven races, but the real action gets underway with the first Classics of the season on day two and three. 

The 2000 Guineas headlines Saturday’s racing, with the one-mile race acting as the opening leg of the Triple Crown, which will be rounded off later in the season with the Derby and the St. Leger. For three-year-old fillies, the 1000 Guineas will follow on the Sunday. Over the same distance of one mile, the race is the first leg in the Fillies’ Triple Crown, which is followed by the Oaks and St. Leger. 

  • Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes Day

The final major flat meeting before spring becomes summer and attention quickly turns to the Derby Festival at Epsom Downs and Royal Ascot in June, the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes is the second British Champions Series Mile contest of the season. Run at Newbury, the race achieved Group 1 standing in 1995 and is open to horses ages four and over. 

With it being the Queen’s Jubilee year, the May 14th meeting will also be Ladies’ Day — which is rather fitting considering Her Majesty won her Group 1 outing as an owner in this race with Pall Mall back in 1958! 

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