If the first half of 2023 is anything to go by, horse racing fans in the United Kingdom have plenty to look forward to during the remaining six months of the year.
Some truly outstanding races have been staged over jumps and on the flat, highlighting that the UK is THE place to be for top-class equine action.
With so many meetings staged every week, it is a near impossible task to come up with a definitive list of the best races we have seen this year.
However, we have searched back through the archives to come up with four races we believe deserve including in any such lists.
Mares’ Hurdle – Cheltenham
Having upset the Cheltenham betting odds by beating Benie Des Dieux in the 2020 Mares’ Hurdle, Honeysuckle went on to establish herself as one of the best hurdlers of her generation.
She won the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival for the next two years and was expected to attempt the hat-trick in the race this year.
However, after recognising that the horse was not quite the force of old, trainer Henry De Bromhead decided to have one last crack at the Mares’ Hurdle.
There was not a dry in eye in the house as jockey Rachael Blackmore steered Honeysuckle to a victory that will live long in the memory of anyone who witnessed it.
1000 Guineas – Newmarket
Oisin Murphy’s well-documented 14-month ban from the sport left many people questioning whether the former champion jockey could bounce back.
Murphy returned to the saddle in February and soon demonstrated that he had lost none of his ability with a superb effort aboard Mawj in the 1000 Guineas.
The combination withstood a stern challenge from last season’s champion two-year-old Tahiyra in a race where the horses and jockeys put everything on the line.
The pair pulled well clear of their rivals to leave the impression they are two of the finest fillies seen on a racetrack in recent years.
Princess Elizabeth Stakes – Epsom
Frankie Dettori’s final season as a jockey was always likely to be packed with memorable moments, which has undoubtedly been the case.
His final ride at Epsom was a winning one as he steered Prosperous Voyage to a three-quarter length victory in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes.
There was little to choose between all six runners heading into the final two furlongs, but Dettori produced his horse with a well-timed run to claim victory.
His effort was a timely reminder that he remains the man for the big occasion – a point he hammered home with another superb success later the same month.
Gold Cup – Royal Ascot
Dettori received plenty of criticism for failing to add a fourth Gold Cup win to Stradivarius’s career record in the past two editions of the race.
However, he rectified matters in style aboard Courage Mon Ami in this year’s renewal, bringing the horse from the back of the field to overhaul Coltrane on the run-in.
Trainer John Gosden had been heavily critical of Dettori’s efforts aboard Stradivarius, but he was full of praise for the Italian on this occasion.
Winning the Gold Cup was a fitting way for Dettori to crown his final appearance at a racetrack that has been extremely kind to him throughout his career.
Feature image: Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay