High-rolling horse racing holidays

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The jet-set have always been an integral part of the international racing scene. From Queen Elizabeth to Mick Jagger and the Aga Khan to the Arabian royals, the lure of beautiful thoroughbred horses, stunning locations, and the thrill of the ‘Sport of Kings’ have made it irresistible.

The 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup is the highlight of the fourth and final day of the amazing Cheltenham Festival, which begins on March 10. Set in the beautiful Cotswold countryside, a short train ride or drive from London, the ‘Who’s Who’ of the winter sport will be in attendance. They will enjoy the famed hospitality and unparalleled atmosphere of one of the world’s great sporting occasions.

This year, many of the big-hitting punters will be banking on the unbeaten Irish superstar Faugheen winning the Champion Hurdle, which is the highlight of the first day’s action. A win from the Willie Mullins-trained star will give them plenty of ammunition to tackle the bookies for the remaining three days of the showcase meeting.

If you fancy combining a luxury skiing holiday with a unique horse racing experience, you shouldn’t look much further than the ‘White Turf’ racing at St Moritz in Switzerland that takes place on three successive Sundays in February. Sponsored by BMW and Credit Suisse, the action takes place on the frozen lake and the horses wear special spiked shoes to allow them to gain enough grip and not fall on the compacted ice.

Fur hats, designer ski suits, and sunglasses abound amongst the racegoers and luxury goods stalls around the track. It’s a chilly, but breath-taking sight.

On to warmer climes and the main flat racing season highlights. It goes without saying that the five-day Royal Ascot meeting in June each year is one of the sporting and social highlights of the year. Top hat and tails for gentleman in the Royal Enclosure and the height of couture and outrageous ladies’ fashion combine with the sight of the very best racehorses in the world. It produces an always memorable event. The car parks loaded with luxury cars see racegoers picnicking on smoked salmon, caviar and champagne before heading into the racecourse itself to take in the full spectacle.

Later in the European season a trip to Paris is a ‘must’ for the top middle-distance race of the season, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at the elegant Longchamp racecourse. Staged on the first Sunday in October, all the big names of the sport are there. The billionaire owners are also there as their best horses compete for a race that will ensure the winner is worth as much as $50 million on retirement to stud.

And on the other side of the pond, Santa Anita racetrack in Los Angeles, a stone’s throw away from the chic stores and movie star hideaway of Beverly Hills, is the stunning location for the Breeders’ Cup races in November. As the palm trees waft in the California breeze, the highflyers from across the globe descend on the picturesque scene to see who will come out on top on the track – the Americans or the Europeans. It’s a high-class end to what is always a stunning racing season around the globe.

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