The 5 Oldest Horse Races in the United Kingdom

Are you a major horse racing fan and want to learn as much about the sport as possible? Well, here are some of the oldest horse races in the United Kingdom!

The world of horse racing is steeped in centuries-old traditions and history. The UK, for example, has been home to some of the oldest and most prestigious races in the world, with events that stretch back hundreds of years.

In this blog post, we’ll trace through five of the oldest surviving horse races that are located within the United Kingdom, some of which date back to 300 years. Rich with detail about each race’s unique heritage and culture, here are five of the oldest horse races that take place in the United Kingdom.

Carlisle Gold Bell

The Carlisle Gold Bell is one of the most historic British horse races of all time, having first contested back in 1599. It is also one of the longest-running British horse racing events which are still going strong today. This is the most popular race at the prominent Carlisle Racecourse. The event got its name from the relation to the bells that were awarded to the winners of the race during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. 

There are many different types of horse racing events, and the Carlisle Gold Bell just so happens to take place on flat ground as opposed to different terrain. If you are a horse racing fan, this is a must-see event because of just how long-standing it is. 

Kiplingcotes Derby

There is no doubt that the UK is the host to some of the oldest and most prestigious horse racing events of the season. With that said, the oldest horse racing event in the entirety of the United Kingdom is Kiplingcotes Derby. 

This event first took place in 1519 and saw the celebration of its 500th race in March of 2019. This racing event typically follows an ancient type of ruling system or rather a set of rules, which offer a fun quirk. This means that often the horse that takes second place will receive significantly more in prize money than that who comes first. 

This race also does not take place on a typical racecourse, but rather on the verge of a road, making it very different from other types of horse racing events, but one to see. 

The Oaks

 Moving on down our list, the next Horse Racing Event that we will take a look at is the Oaks. This racing event was established back in 1779 and was given its name by an estate near Epsom. Although racing in Epson dates back to the mid-1600s, The Oaks remains to be one of the longest-standing races around. 

This race is exclusively for fillies and is generally run for roughly one and a half miles. The course for this race is the common U shape that starts with an uphill, and once the corner is turned, becomes a downhill.

The Derby 

The next race that we will be looking into is The Derby. When it comes to flat racing, The Derby is exactly what people think of. It is the epitome of flat racing and by far one of the most prestigious events in the UK. 

Not only is it a very popular sporting event, but it also happens to be an incredibly popular cultural event in the sporting calendar. This race saw its start in 1780 and has seen many upper-class British citizens, including Queen Elizabeth II herself. 

Today this race is a two-day event that gathers huge crowds, an incredible amount of socializing, and a lot of fun. The derby was named after Lord Derby; however, it is said that the naming of the event was left up to a coin toss. 


Last but not least, the final horse racing event that we will look at is St Ledger. This event is one of the last for the horse racing season, and one that everyone looks forward to. It is located in Doncaster, in the north of England, and typically takes place in the September of each year. 

This race is a more extended one that takes place over a mile and 3 quarters. The first time this event took place was back in 1776, and it is still going strong today. Although its name was initially “a Sweepstake of 25 Guineas” the name was changed the very next year to St Ledger to pay homage to his influence within the industry.