Europe’s 10 Most Famous Racecourses

10. Ascot Racecourse

Ascot Racecourse is regarded as the spiritual home of horse racing in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1711 by Queen Anne, on the vast downs adjoining the Royal residence, the Ascot Racecourse is the home of Britain’s most prestigious race meeting – the Royal Ascot. The racecourse hosts the lion’s share of group 1 races in the UK, with 9 of the 32 group 1 races run annually in England being held at Ascot.

9. The Curragh

Translated from Gaelic, the name for Ireland’s most famous thoroughbred racing track means ‘the racecourse’. The racecourse, set on the vast open plains of Curragh in County Kildare, hosts all five of Ireland’s Classics. The Curragh is regarded as the home of thoroughbred racing in Ireland, and also accommodates several of the country’s largest training facilities.

8. Longchamp

There are few racecourses in the world that can rival Longchamp in Paris. This elegant racecourse, situated on the banks of the river Seine, has been hosting horseracing since the mid 1800s. At present, Longchamp hosts two of the most important races of the French flat racing season, the Grand Prix de Paris and the Prix de l‘Arc de Triomphe. The latter is the world’s second richest horse race.

7. Newmarket

Newmarket Racecourse is perhaps the most important racecourse in the United Kingdom, serving as the headquarters for the British Horseracing Authority. The racecourse is famous for hosting the flat racing season’s two opening Classics, the 1000 Guineas and 2000 Guineas. This racecourse also has the largest thoroughbred training facility in the UK, with 77 trainers and 2500 racehorses based at the venue.

6. Chantilly

Few racecourses in the world can rival Chantilly when it comes to architectural grandeur and scenic splendour. Set in the ancient Beech forests that border Paris, Chantilly exudes an air of old-world charm. Racing was introduced to the area by English aristocrats in the 19th century, and they modelled the racecourse’s two most famous races, the Prix de Diane and the Prix du Jockey Club, on the Epsom Oaks and Epsom Derby.

5. Cheltenham

Cheltenham Racecourse in Gloucestershire, England, is synonymous with the ancient sport of national hunt racing. Each year the racecourse hosts the biggest event in national hunt racing – the Cheltenham Festival. The racecourse is active throughout the winter jumps season, and hosts an array of the most highly rated national hunt races, including the King George V Chase.

4. Leopardstown

Dublin’s Leopardstown Racecourse is one of the few racecourses in the United Kingdom and Ireland to host both high profile thoroughbred, as well as national hunt races. Built in 1888, the facility hosts one of the primary Derby trials, the Derrinstown Derby Trial, as well as the Irish Champion Stakes. Top rated national hunt races held at the racecourse include the Lexus Chase and the Irish Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup.

3. Epsom

The vast chalk downs of Surrey serve as the setting for Epsom Downs Racecourse, the home to what many regard as the most famous race in the world – the Epsom Derby. The Epsom Downs Racecourse is on public land, which means that, in theory, spectators can watch racing there for free. The racecourse is most active in June, when it hosts the Derby and the prestigious Epsom Oaks.

2. Aintree

What Aintree Racecourse lacks in terms of ambience and scenic beauty, is compensated for by the quality of the national hunt racing that takes place over its legendary fences. Located in Liverpool, Aintree is home to England’s most watched horse race, the annual Grand National Handicap Steeplechase. The racecourse also hosts the second of England’s major national hunt meetings, the Aintree Festival.

1. Goodwood

Goodwood is considered by many to be the United Kingdom’s most scenic racecourse. Bordering on the West Sussex coast, the racecourse also provides a panoramic view of the rolling hills and indigenous forests of the region. The racecourse derives most of its significance from hosting the annual Glorious Goodwood meeting, which in turn features two group 1 races, the Sussex Stakes and the Nassau Stakes.