Three of the Most Underrated Racing Festivals

The likes of the Kentucky Derby, Breeders’ Cup, Melbourne Carnival and Royal Ascot take most of the headlines when it comes to competitive horse racing. Some festivals, like those held around the Kentucky Derby and Melbourne Cup, have sprung up around an individual historic race. Whereas others, such as Royal Ascot, feature several big races and are more about the overall experience rather than leading up to a single event.

There is, of course, no magic ingredient – apart from stellar racing – needed to make a great festival, but sometimes events just have those indescribable qualities that get fans excited. Below is a look at three festivals from around the world that are sometimes overshadowed by other events, yet are worth checking out in their own right:

‘Glorious’ Goodwood Festival (late July, Goodwood, UK)

Taking place at the end of July each year, Goodwood Festival is an annual five-day festival held in West Sussex in the south of England. It has three Group 1 races – The Sussex Stakes, Nassau Stakes and Goodwood Cup (by way of comparison, Royal Ascot hosts eight Group 1 races). Frankel ran in and won the Sussex Stakes twice in those two wonderful years (2011 and 2012) that cemented his legend. However, Glorious Goodwood has never really been focused on big names or even on the big races. It is supposed to be the ‘fun’ cousin to the serious and stuffy Royal Ascot. Indeed, Panama hats are worn in lieu of the top hats, reflecting the laidback attitude on the Sussex Downs. In addition, some of the most unique trials await horses and jockeys on the course at Goodwood, another reason why the festival should be treasured.  

Furthermore, this is a fan favourite for horse racing betting punters. If you fall into this category and enjoy the odd bet on the horses then we would recommend checking out The Winners Enclosure. They have a dedicated Goodwood festival page updated daily to provide you with tips ahead of each race.

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

Sydney Spring Carnival (October, Sydney, Australia)

Anyone outside of Australia automatically thinks of the Melbourne Cup (November) when it comes to horse racing in Australia. However, the Sydney Spring Carnival, held at Randwick in October (springtime for anyone in the southern hemisphere), is fast catching up in terms of popularity. Its not-so-secret weapon is the addition of The Everest – The world’s richest turf race. It was first run in 2017 and was designed some of the world’s best sprinters to Sydney. That was seen as a huge success, attracting record crowds and huge global interest. The winner of the inaugural event, Redzel, is among the favourites at 5/1 (Bet365), but will face some tough competition from the highly-rated Trapeze Artist (also 5/1). If you want to bet on the race for free, you can check the latest bookies offers 2018 for Bet365 and other sportsbooks.

Punchestown Festival (late-April, Punchestown, Ireland)

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

In national hunt racing most of the focus goes on the Cheltenham Festival and Grand National, so Ireland’s premier event is sometimes little more than afterthought. However, the Irish have been bossing Cheltenham for the last few years, thus Punchestown is a chance to see some of the best jumps horses in action fresh from their victories in Britain. The likes of Faugheen (a cool 25/1 for next year’s Champion Hurdle, incidentally), Un De Sceaux and Footpad were among the headline makers at the 2018 Punchestown Festival. The racing is always brilliant, and the Irish racing fans know how to make it a special atmosphere too.