As the home of thoroughbred racing it is no surprise that Europe is home to some of the oldest, and most famous, racecourses in the world. Here's our selection of the 10 greatest racecourses in Europe.
10. Ascot Racecourse
Ascot Racecourse is regarded as the spiritual home of racing in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1711 by Queen Anne on the vast downs beside the Royal residence, Ascot Racecourse is host to Britain's most prestigious race meeting - the Royal Ascot. It also hosts the lion's share of Group 1 races in the country.
9. The Curragh
The Curragh, which means "racecourse" in Gaelic, is Ireland's most famous thoroughbred racing track. The course is set on the vast open plains of Curragh in County Kildare. It hosts all five of Ireland's Classics, as well as the country's largest training facilities.
Situated on the banks of the River Seine in Paris, the Longchamp Racecourse has been hosting horse races since the mid-1800s. Today Longchamp hosts two of the most important races of the French flat racing season, the Grand Prix de Paris and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. The latter is the world's second richest horse race.
Newmarket serves as the headquarters for the British Horseracing Authority and is famous for hosting the two opening Classics of the flat racing season, the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas. It's also the site of the largest thoroughbred training facility in the United Kingdom, with roughly 77 trainers and 2,500 racehorses based around the racecourse.
Few racecourses in the world can rival Chantilly when it comes to architectural grandeur and scenic splendour. This racecourse is set in the ancient beech forests that border Paris. Racing was introduced to the area by English aristocrats in the 19th century. They modeled the racecourse's two most famous races, the Prix de Diane and Prix du Jockey Club, on the Epsom Oaks and Epsom Derby.
Cheltenham Racecourse in Gloucestershire, England, is synonymous with National Hunt racing. Each year the racecourse hosts the biggest event in National Hunt racing - the Cheltenham Festival. The racecourse is active throughout the winter jump season and hosts a number of the highest-rated National Hunt races.
Dublin's Leopardstown Racecourse is one of the few racecourses in the United Kingdom to host both high-profile thoroughbred and National Hunt races. Built in 1888, the facility hosts one of the primary Derby trials - the Derrinstown Derby Trial, as well as the Irish Champion Stakes. Top-rated National Hunt races held at the racecourse include the Lexus Chase and the Irish Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup.
The vast chalk downs of Surrey serve as the setting for Epsom Downs Racecourse, the home of what many regard as the most famous race in the world - the Epsom Derby. The racecourse is set on public land, which means that, in theory, spectators can watch racing there for free. The racecourse is most active in June, when it hosts both the Derby and the prestigious Epsom Oaks.
What Aintree Racecourse lacks in ambience and scenic beauty is made up for by the quality of National Hunt racing that takes place over its legendary fences. Located in Liverpool, Aintree is home to England's most watched horse race, the annual Grand National Handicap Steeplechase. The racecourse also hosts the second of England's major National Hunt meetings, the Aintree Festival.
Goodwood is considered by many to be the United Kingdom's most scenic racecourse. Set beside the West Sussex coast, the racecourse looks out over the rolling hills and indigenous forests of the region. Goodwood hosts the annual Glorious Goodwood meeting, which includes two Group 1 races - the Sussex Stakes and the Nassau Stakes.
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