It might be missing the now-retired Frankel, but the 2013 horse racing season is underway and the next 12 months promises to be as mouthwatering as ever.
The horse racing 2013 calendar with the usual narrative – the Cheltenham Festival in March, Grand National the following month in April, the first of the Classics in May with the running of the 1000 and 2000 Guineas, the Derby and Royal Ascot in June, Glorious Goodwood at the crossroads of July and August leading into York’s Ebor meeting and then onto St Leger in September followed by autumn and winter’s key races, the Champion Stakes, Racing Post Trophy, Betfair Chase, Hennessy Gold Cup and King George VI Chase amongst them.
In total, the horse racing calendar is made up of 1,464 fixtures – 890 flat horse racing fixtures (583 on turf and 207 on the all-weather) and 574 national hunt racing meetings – which is eight more race meetings in 2013 than there was last year despite the closure of both Hereford and Folkestone. There are 14 more flat and all-weather racing fixtures and six fewer jump race meetings.
The change in figures has done little has done little to the horse racing calendar, however, with only one significant change – that being the move of the Welsh Grand National from its usual December 27 date to the Saturday between Christmas and New Year, which this year will happen to fall on December 28. In future, there will be occasions when the Welsh Grand National takes place in January, as it did recently having been rescheduled due to a waterlogged track, due to the calendar.
The first big festival of 2013 will be the Cheltenham Festival, which takes place between March 12-15. The best four days of jump racing are staged at Prestbury Park with the headline act being the Cheltenham Gold Cup and more the ably assisted by the Champion Hurdle, the Champion Chase and the World Hurdle. Less than a month later, a slightly modified Grand National course will be used at Aintree for the 2013 Grand National.
In May, the first of the Classics take place at Newmarket with the running of the 1000 Guineas and 2000 Guineas and at the start of June two more are staged at Epsom with the 2013 Epsom Derby and Oaks. From there it is only the five-day Royal Ascot festival as royalty meets horse racing in the grandest of settings.
In July, another five-day festival gets underway when the tapes go up at Glorious Goodwood. It concludes in August and leads into York’s four-day Ebor meeting and the trio of Grade 1 races headed by the Juddmonte International. At the start of September the fifth and final classic of 2013 takes place just down the road at Doncaster as the St Leger is run.
The flat season will once again culminate with the 2013 QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot, with the grand finale to the flat campaign taking place in October, the same month that Doncaster stages the Racing Post Trophy, a key indicator towards 2014.
From there the jump season kicks-off in earnest and before the year is out, the biggest names of national hunt racing take centre stage is key races. First of all it is the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park, then the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury, the Tingle Creek at Sandown Park and the gems of the Christmas programme the King George VI Chase and the Welsh Grand National.