While horse racing takes place virtually all year round - at least somewhere in the world - there are a few major events in the sport's annual calendar when it comes to betting.
Here are the popular horse racing events to bet on in Ireland:
- Cheltenham Festival
- Grand National
- Royal Ascot
- Epsom Derby
- Glorious Goodwood
- Punchestown Festival
- Curragh Irish Derby Festival
- Galway Races Summer Festival
- Listowel Harvest Festival
- Down Royal Ulster Derby
- Leopardstown Christmas Festival
- Killarney Spring Festival
- Longines Irish Champions Weekend
- Fairyhouse Easter Festival
Running in March every year, the Cheltenham Festival is the highlight of the sporting calendar for a lot of horse racing fans. The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the highlight of the meeting, which has a strong Irish flavour as a result of its proximity to Saint Patrick's Day. Other big races that take place at the Festival include the Champion Hurdle, the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Stayers' Hurdle. Hundreds of millions of euros are bet on the festival each year.
For casual horse racing fans, the Grand National is the most famous race of the year. Known around the world for being particularly chaotic, two laps of the Aintree racecourse provides a test of endurance. The first Grand National was run 181 years ago, so this is one of the longest-running horse races around. It is estimated that 500 million people watch the race each year.
Royal Ascot is famous for its links to royalty, along with a unique sense of pageantry. Considered by many to be Britain's most valuable race meeting, Royal Ascot sees about 500 horses race over the course of five days of action. The highlight of the meeting is the Gold Cup.
Britain's richest horse race is the Epsom Derby, a race that is often called the "Blue Riband" of the turf. It is also thought of as the most prestigious of the five Classics. The Epsom Derby is typically scheduled to be run on the first Saturday of June each year.
For horse racing purists, Glorious Goodwood is up there with the Cheltenham Festival. Officially named the 'Qatar Goodwood Festival' for sponsorship reasons, the meeting is held in late July. Top races that take place within Glorious Goodwood include the Stewards' Cup, the Nassau Stakes, the Goodwood Cup and the Sussex Stakes.
Moving on to events that take place in Ireland, Punchestown Festival definitely makes the cut for the best horse racing events to bet on for Irish racing fans. Punchestown Festival - held annually in April - has a similar format to the Cheltenham Festival. Key races of the meeting include the Punchestown Gold Cup, the Champion Chase and the Champion Hurdle.
One of the top Irish races of the year, the Irish Derby, takes place within the Curragh Irish Derby Festival. Taking place three weeks after the Epsom Derby, a number of horses have won the double of claiming first place in both races.
Galway Races Summer Festival is among the highlights of the social calendar for horse racing fans in Ireland. Taking place at the end of July, the meeting tends to be attended by around 150,000 people every year. The historic Galway Plate, which is worth €200,000, is a highlight.
Racing fans from around Ireland also love to head to Listowel Harvest Festival, a seven-day meeting that is without a doubt the autumn highlight of the Irish racing calendar.
Each June, Irish racing fans get excited about the Down Royal Ulster Derby, which was established in 1936. One of the top racing events of the year in Northern Ireland, the Ulster Derby is the country's most valuable flat race and has never been won by the same horse more than once, though jockey Tommy Murphy rode the winner on four occasions in his career.
Leopardstown Christmas Festival is a must-attend festive event for a lot of Irish racing fans. With a number of Grade 1 races over the course of four days of top-class action, the festival is a great way to finish off Christmas. There is usually over €1 million in prize money up for grabs.
Claimed to be held at the most scenic racecourse in Ireland, anyone who has been to Killarney Spring Festival will certainly find it hard to argue with that assessment. But those who cannot attend will find it just as enjoyable to have a bet on the top races via a leading online bookmaker.
September sees what many believe to be Ireland's greatest racing event: the Longines Irish Champions Weekend. Taking place over two days - one at Leopardstown and one at The Curragh, the event includes the Irish Champion Stakes and the Coolmore America 'Justify' Matron Stakes on day one. Day two of the Longines Irish Champions Weekend has a stacked schedule including the Comer Group International Irish St Leger, the Moyglare Stud Stakes, the Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes and the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes.
Wrapping things up is the Fairyhouse Easter Festival, which as the name suggests is held at Easter weekend each year. The BoyleSports Irish Grand National is the key race of the meeting, which also hosts the Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa Most Stylish Lady competition.