A short history of horseracing
Horse racing has existed in some form or other ever since the horse was first domesticated by mankind on the plains of Central Asia, some 6,000 years ago. The sport has been a popular form of entertainment ever since the beginning of recorded history and is mentioned as an integral part of the first Greek Olympics.
However, the dawn of modern horse racing began in the 12th century, when Crusader Knights returned from their travels, bringing with them the sleek and swift Arab stallions and mares they had plundered on their campaign. This equine plunder was then used to breed with the Knight’s native English mares.
With the evolution of the horse, influenced by the introduction of the Arab bloodlines, these much sought-after speed horses became the playthings of royalty and nobility, which helped to coin the phrase ‘The Sport of Kings’.
Fast forward to the modern-day when horse racing in the UK, and right across Europe has grown to become one of the most popular sports on the continent. From the muddy point-to-point races of Ireland (which couldn’t be further from the Sport of Kings) to the glitz and glamour of races like the 2,000 Guineas, the Derby, The Oaks, and St. Leger, some of the biggest horse races in the world, the sport has captured the imagination of millions.
Horse racing’s biggest races, especially the Classics like the French Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, the British Derby, and the Irish 2,000 Guineas, tend to attract the rich and famous from all around the world to enjoy both the excitement of the races and the popping of champagne corks in the winners’ enclosure.
Private jet charters to the homes of the Classics
Summer is the high season for horse racing’s classic flat events. Broad-brimmed hats, designer sunglasses, floral silks, and linen suits, the clink of champagne glasses, the thunder of hooves, the roar of the crowd, and the sound of helicopter engines as they deliver their guests from a nearby airstrip.
With the rise in popularity – and affordability – of private jet charters, the classic race meetings are now the target of groups of racing fans and high-net-worth individuals wishing to add a new dimension to their overall experience.
The real beauty of private jet charter is the simple fact of being able to tailor the whole experience to your location, your schedule, and the number of guests in your group. For example, a group of friends wishing to experience two of the highest rated horse races in the world, the 2,000 Guineas and the 1,000 Guineas, can fly directly into Cambridge Airport (CBG) which is located just over 8.5 miles from Newmarket Racecourse. Within minutes of touching down in Cambridge, the travelling party can be enjoying the sight of the runners and riders on parade in the enclosure.
All of the major European racecourses, the homes of the classics, are all easily accessible by private jet charters.
Best horse races to attend in the UK, Ireland, and France
Ascot Racecourse, UK – Generally regarded as the headquarters of flat racing in the UK and founded back in 1711 by Queen Anne, Ascot is home to the UK’s most revered race meeting, Royal ascot. Nearest Airport/Airstrip – London Heathrow (LHR), 10.4 miles.
The Curragh Racecourse, Ireland – Set on the rolling plains of Ireland’s heartland, The Curragh Racecourse hosts all of Ireland’s 5 major flat races and is home to some of the country’s most successful trainers. Nearest Airport/Airstrip – O’Dwyer Field, 12 miles.
Longchamp, France – Almost right in the heart of the French capital, on the banks of the River Seine, Longchamp is the setting for France’s two major flat races, the Grand Prix de Paris and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (which offers the world’s second-richest racing purse as the prize). Nearest Airport/Airstrip – Paris Orly Airport (ORY), 11 miles.
Newmarket, UK – As home to two of the most famous horse races in England, the 2,000 Guineas and the 1,000 Guineas, Newmarket heralds the start of the annual flat racing season. With over 2,500 racehorses and 77 trainers within a short gallop of the racecourse, Newmarket serves as headquarters for the British Horseracing Authority. Nearest Airport/Airstrip – Cambridge Airport (CBG), 8.5 miles.
Chantilly, France – In the cool shade of an ancient beech forest on the outskirts of Paris, Chantilly has been home to the top layer of horse racing since the 19th century. Its two most famous races, the Prix de Diane (mid-June) and the Prix du Jockey Club (early June) attract jet-setters from all corners of Europe. Nearest Airport/Airstrip – Paris CDG (CDG), 13.5 miles.
Cheltenham, UK – Home to the biggest UK National Hunt meeting, Cheltenham, in the county of Gloucestershire, is the annual pilgrimage destination for hundreds of thousands of fans for racing’s ‘over the jumps’ Holy Grail, the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Nearest Airport/Airstrip – Birmingham Airport (BHX), 41 miles and Bristol Airport (BRS), 45 miles.
Leopardstown, Ireland – Within sight of the Irish capital, Dublin, Leopardstown Racecourse plays host to both horseracing codes, flat and National Hunt. As host to the Derrinstown Derby Trial, the Irish Champion Stakes along with the Lexus Chase and the Irish Hennessy Gold Cup, Leopardstown is a firm favourite with those who love their racing followed by a night out in the city. Nearest Airport/Airstrip – Dublin Airport (DUB), 13.5 miles.
Epsom, UK – Regarded by some as the most famous racecourse in the world, Epsom Downs is located on the chalk plains of Surrey and draws huge crowds to the showcase races of the Epsom Derby and the Epsom Oaks. As the racecourse is set on public land, spectators, in theory, can enjoy one of the greatest spectacles on the UK racing calendar for free. Epsom is the epitome of the best horse racing in England. Nearest Airport/Airstrip – London Heathrow (LHR), 12.6 miles, London Gatwick (LGW), 13 miles, and London City Airport (LCY), 18.4 miles.
Aintree, UK – The Aintree Grand National Handicap Steeplechase is one of the most gruelling National Hunt horse races in the world (along with the Czech Republic’s Velká Pardubická) and is run over a course of 4 miles 2.5 furlongs featuring 30 obstacles to test even the very best of horses and riders. Situated close to the city of Liverpool, the Aintree Festival is one of the major highlights of the National Hunt racing calendar. Nearest Airport/Airstrip – Liverpool John Lennon Airport (LJLA), 26 miles.
Goodwood, UK – Set close to the West Sussex coast, Goodwood is probably the most scenic and spectacular of the UK racecourse with views over stunning forests and rolling hills. Host to the annual Glorious Goodwood racing festival the course sees the running of two premier Group 1 races, the Nassau Stakes and the Sussex Stakes. Nearest Airport/Airstrip –.Southampton Airport (SOU), 28.1 miles, and Goodwood Aerodrome, 3 miles.
Charter your private plane charter with a winner
For thoroughbred horse owners and trainers, time is a valuable commodity. Getting to the racecourse, and back home again, can be a time-consuming process with transport arteries often heavily congested during major festivals and race days.
To surmount this problem, private jet and plane charters are widely used, not just by trainers and wealthy owners, but also by groups of racing aficionados who want to experience a Classic horse racing event with the added bonus of getting there in style and comfort.
Professional and long-established private jet charter companies have been organising racing travel throughout Europe for many years, and know exactly what’s entailed. With such a full racing calendar throughout Europe, expert charter companies can take the burden out of racing enthusiasts’ travel plans.
Whether travelling solo, as a couple, or even a group of 50 or 60 fans or owner syndicates, a good aircraft charter company will already have all the answers and can even offer multiple supplementary services. They can provide multi-location itineraries, onboard meals, ground transport, helicopter transport directly from the airstrip or airport to the racecourse, personalised aircraft livery or associated marketing – perfect for race sponsors and their guests – and even your VIP race tickets.
The next time you want to enjoy a real ‘Sport of Kings’ experience, make sure your journey starts with a visit to a reputable private jet charter company.