Get your nose out in front with horse racing

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Win at a canter: Alex Hammond recommends screening horse racing to increase footfall at pubs (Credit: Getty)
Win at a canter: Alex Hammond recommends screening horse racing to increase footfall at pubs (Credit: Getty)

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Football, rugby and cricket have proven great draws for pub operators in increasing footfall at their sites but Sky Sports Racing host Alex Hammond says horse racing appeals to a multitude of age groups too.

The popularity of the sport is in no doubt after The Jockey Club recently announced tickets to all the general admission enclosures for Cheltenham’s Gold Cup Day (Friday 18 March) had sold out by the end of January for the first time ever and there had also been unprecedented demand for tickets to Grand National Day (Saturday 9 April).

Hammond said: “Horse racing is a wonderful sport with its thrills and spills adored by young and old for hundreds of years, from the furious speed of a five-furlong sprint to the ultimate stamina test of the famous Grand National at Aintree.”

Key tips on racing calendar

She continued: “It’s the UK’s fourth most popular sport and I’ve detailed a few key tips to get you up to speed on some of the key festivals and major meetings in the horse racing calendar.”

Hammond said the highest level of contest is classified as a Group race (on the Flat – mostly during summer) or Graded race (over jumps – mostly during winter) and the five most famous Flat races of the year are known as the Classics: The 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, the Oaks and Derby at Epsom and the St Leger at Doncaster. Over jumps, the biggest races of the season take place at the Cheltenham Festival in March, with the Grand National at Aintree held in early April.

The next big festival pub operators could get on board with is the Cheltenham Festival. The jump racing season builds up from Chepstow in October, through the winter and into the spring, where Cheltenham’s four-day meeting on 15-18 March is the highlight of the year. The best of Britain and Ireland do battle for the Prestbury Cup, while Friday’s Gold Cup is the main event. Last year, Irish jockey Rachael Blackmore stole the show, becoming the first woman to be crowned leading rider with a remarkable six victories throughout the week.

Summer highlight

Hammond added Royal Ascot is the showpiece meeting of the Flat season, which sees the best horses from Britain, Ireland, France, the US and across the world gather for the five-day meeting in June, with every race live on Sky Sports Racing.

April is the month for the Grand National of course. There was more joy for Blackmore in the 2021 Grand National, said Hammond. “The National fences are bigger and more imposing than any other and provide horses and jockeys with their toughest test.”

She added Racing TV and Sky Sports Racing can help operators screen eight hours of daily live coverage from 60 racecourses and all 26 Irish tracks.

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