Winter can be a dull season for horse racing fans, but with some of the best annual events taking place throughout the spring, there’s always something to look forward to!

The coming year will be no different and as 2014 winds down, here’s a quick look ahead to some of the highlights of the 2015 spring racing season in the U.K.


Cheltenham Festival – March 10-14

For some, Cheltenham marks the true beginning of the racing calendar, with four days of top-notch races just when the weather (hopefully) begins to warm up. This is one event that is every bit a festival, having cultivated a vibrant and celebratory atmosphere to surround the competition. In 2015, the event will undergo something of a transition, as far as regular racegoers are concerned. As acknowledged in a sort of tribute piece written by Betfair, Big Buck’s—one of the great champions in Cheltenham history, with four World Hurtle titles to his name—will no longer be competing, which certainly leaves a void for the fans.

Additionally, Our Conor, last year’s favourite for the Champion Hurdle and a would-be contender in 2015, was sadly put down following a fall and injury. Despite these absences, however, the races will be as competitive as ever and new favourites—perhaps most notably the 2014 Champion Chase winner Sire de Grugy—will emerge!

Grand National – April 9-11

While the Grand National is, like Cheltenham, a multi-day event, it is unquestionably highlighted by the signature race that will take place on Saturday, 11 April. Known officially as the Crabbie’s Grand National, this headline race is a 4.5 mile contest consisting of 30 fences and a field of the most competitive horses in Europe. Last year’s event offered a fun surprise for fans, as the 25/1 shot Pineau De Re streaked to the front after the final fence to take the title, with 14/1 Balthazar King seven lengths behind in second and joint favourite Double Seven placing third.

All three will be there in addition to joint 2014 favourites Teaforthree and Godsmejudge, the latter of whom would have been a favourite had he not pulled out of last year’s event. The Liverpool Echo listed Pineau De Re as a 25/1 shot to defend the title immediately after the 2014 win.

Derby Stakes – June 5-6

Started in 1780 as the original horse racing “derby,” the Derby Stakes—also known as the Epsom Derby and more recently the Investec Derby—still has an argument as boasting the most prestigious title in UK racing. Furthermore, the race offers a unique outcome every year, given that it is run only by 3-year-old horses and thus never presents a repeat champion.

Without repeat competitors, this can be one of the trickiest races to predict, as exemplified in 2014 when Australia won the race despite absence from the pre-race trials and doubts on the part of the oddsmakers. There’s no telling what the Derby Stakes will bring in 2015, but it’s sure to once again be one of the marquee events on the racing calendar.

Royal Ascot – June 16-20

Finally there’s the Royal Ascot, which may just be the grandest event of all. Like Cheltenham, the Royal Ascot is designed with one headline race per day, but with plenty of additional races and festivity mixed into the program. The races themselves will generate the most attention and are the most important aspects of the Royal Ascot for devout racing fans. However, this competition perhaps more than any other is about the experience as a whole.

The Royal Ascot is filled with rich history, fine dining, a different type of seating and viewing options, and much more. In short, you’ll see some truly fine racing displays, but attending the Royal Ascot is almost more of a small vacation than an athletic event!