Christmas is (almost) here and 2018 is drawing to a close, but while horse racing might not be at the forefront of your mind just now, soon the focus will turn to the 2019 race calendar.
The main races in the schedule will of course be at the same familiar festivals that we get to enjoy on an annual basis, but with so many to choose from, here we pick the top five races to look forward to next year:
The Irish Guineas
The Curragh of Kildare hosts the Irish 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas on the first weekend in May and this year, all eyes will be on Ireland’s most prestigious flat racecourse for another reason.
Racing in Ireland is to undergo a significant broadcasting revamp in the New Year with TV rights having switched from popular Sky channel At The Races (ATR) to the Racing UK Channel – a decision that has been met with mixed reaction, with some concerned that it may reduce the exposure of Irish racecourses.
The Guineas will provide the first opportunity to how the broadcasting switch is handled and the effect it has. On the track meanwhile, the early favourite for the 2,000 Guineas is Too Darn Hot (currently available at a best-priced 6/4 with Ladbrokes) while Just Wonderful is fancied for the Sunday’s 1,000 this far out at 10/1 with Betfred.
The Kentucky Derby
Across the Atlantic in Louisville on the same weekend in May, The Kentucky Derby Festival takes place, capped off by The Kentucky Derby itself.
Improbable is favoured to win the big prize in the 145th edition of the race.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup
The Cheltenham Festival is of course always a key fixture of the UK racing calendar, but there is also a particular reason why you should be looking ahead to March in 2019.
This year the Gloucestershire racecourse was reunited with its original Gold Cup trophy, which had been in private ownership since 1971 until this September. The original, which dates back almost a century, will replace the current Gold Cup that has filled its place since 1972 and will be presented to the winner of the steeplechase event once again from next year onwards.
As far as early 2019 favourites, Presenting Percy is fancied at this stage, available at 5/1 across Cheltenham free bets sites such as William Hill and Ladbrokes.
The Grand National
As the richest and arguably most prestigious jump race in Europe, the Grand National at Aintree in April is always going to feature on any list of races to look forward to.
2018’s winner Tiger Roll has already been tipped for back-to-back success as the early betting favourite to win next year’s race.
Bookies are currently offering 20/1 with Sky Bet for the favourite to ride to victory, and it may well be worth snapping up at the early price as it’s sure to go down nearer the race.
The Paris Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
As with the National, how can you not look ahead to The Arc on any list of upcoming calendar races.
Winner of the last two races at Longchamp with Frankie Dettori in the saddle, can Enable make it three years in a row next October?