Itching to get down to the track for some Pimm’s and a punt? TNT tells you all you need to know. WORDS: Tom Sturrock
Highlights: Royal Ascot runs June 16-20 and is the pinnacle of the season. Ascot hosts nine of England’s 32 annual Group One races, with the King’s Stand Stakes and the Golden Jubilee Stakes the big ones.
Good for: A mix of history and style.
Travel: Catch the train from Waterloo to Ascot station. It’s 45 minutes on the train, and then a ten-minute walk from the station to the track.
Tickets: Tickets start from £15.56 but there are discounts on offer for TNT readers. For details see tntonline.co.uk/events.
Highlights: The Falmouth Cup and the July Cup both run on the first weekend of July. Newmarket also hosts nine Group One races.
Good for: Avid punters with an eye for a winner.
Travel: Get a train from King’s Cross or Liverpool Street to Cambridge, Stansted Airport or Ipswich and then connections by rail or road; the full journey takes about an hour and 40 mins.
Tickets: Between £20 and £45 – book at newmarketracecourses.co.uk/buy_tickets.
Highlights: The Epsom Derby is the big one – it’s considered one of the most prestigious flat thoroughbred horse races in the world and is known simply as The Derby. It runs on June 6. The Epsom Oaks, another Group 1 race, will run on Ladies’ Day, June 5.
Good for: A grand party on Derby Day.
Travel: Half an hour train ride from Waterloo or Victoria. Then take a 10-minute taxi or bus ride from Epsom station, or get off at Tattenham Corner Station or Epsom Downs Station instead, and walk.
Tickets: From £15 to £140 – book at epsomderby.co.uk/TicketPrices2008.ink.
Highlights: Thursday night racing all summer long, complemented by a range of non-racing entertainment. The Big Night Down Under is on June 4, while Ladies Day is July 4.
Good for: Night-time entertainment.
Travel: Trains to Esher station run from Waterloo and Clapham Junction about every 20 minutes and the journey time is 25 minutes. Then it’s a 10-minute walk to the track.
Tickets: From £15 to £35 – book at sandown.co.uk/fixturelist.
Highlights: Jumps racing every Wednesday night through to mid-August. Best of British Night on July 8 and Irish Night on August 5.
Good for: Mid-week jumps enthusiasts.
Travel: Trains run every half an hour from Waterloo, with a journey time of 40 minutes.
Tickets: £15 – book at kempton.co.uk.
A Big Night Down Under
Nostalgic southerners can find a welcome taste of home at Sandown Park’s Big Night Down Under, which celebrates all things Antipodean, on Thursday, June 4.
“We’re obviously conscious of the number of Antipodeans in London, who are after a good night out,” Sandown Park managing director David Mackinnon says.
“Hopefully we’re adding value for them, providing non-racing entertainment for them, in addition to the six races we’ll have on that evening.”
Racegoers will be serenaded by the sound of didgeridoos, before the barbies, hangis and brais crank into action.
A haka will kick off the night’s racing.
Punting can be thirsty work, so wash it all down with a stubby or a glass of southern hemisphere wine.
As with any day at the races, it’s not all about the nags. It’s an excuse to get dressed up and watch women in outrageous hats trip over their high heels and lose their fascinators after one too many glasses of champagne.
The Southern Challengers
Aussie horses Scenic Blast and Takeover Target are on course to continue Australia’s fine record in Royal Ascot’s Group One sprints.
Scenic Blast’s main targets are the King’s Stand Stakes and the Darley July Cup, possibly via the Golden Jubilee Stakes.
Takeover Target’s trainer Joe Janiak has identified the Golden Jubilee Stakes as the main target, as well as the July Cup.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s JJ The Jet Plane will target the King’s Stand Stakes and Golden Jubilee Stakes.