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Horse Racing: Flat Season Schedule

The Flat season in Britain traditionally runs from the Lincoln Meeting at Doncaster in March through until the Futurity Trophy meeting back on Town Moor in November.

Flat racing occurs all year round in the UK and Ireland thanks to the use of all-weather tracks, but the season is defined as running from the Lincoln to November. 

Some of the key stops include the British Classics at Newmarket, Epsom and Doncaster, alongside the unmatched pageantry of Royal Ascot in June. 

There are also major summer festivals at Glorious Goodwood and York before Ascot goes centre stage again for British Champions Day in October after some of the big autumn handicaps and future champions races at Newmarket.

Here's our quick guide to the British Flat season, with a reminder that every race from the UK and Ireland can be watched live via the bet365 Live Sports Streaming Service

March 

The Flat season traditionally begins in late March with the Lincoln Meeting at Doncaster. The Lincoln Handicap is the first major race of the season and is a one-mile heat staged on the famous Town Moor course.

On the all-weather, key Listed races take place in March via the Spring Cup at Lingfield and the Lady Wulfruna Stakes at Wolverhampton.

April

The month of April is when the new turf season really begins to take off. The Group 2 Sandown Mile is the Flat feature during a two-day meeting at the Esher venue that doubles up with the Jumps Finale. 

Meanwhile at the likes of Newbury, Newmarket and Sandown, there are key Classic Trials. 

The Craven Meeting at Newmarket hosts the Earl Of Sefton Stakes, the Nell Gwyn Stakes and Abernant Stakes alongside the Craven itself. 

At Newbury, the Greenham is a key Guineas Trial while at Sandown the Gordon Richards Stakes is one for the older generation.

May

The first British Classics of the season come at Newmarket via their Guineas Festival. The two-day meeting features the 2000 Guineas on the Saturday for the colts and the 1000 Guineas a day later for the fillies. Both races take place on the Rowley Mile course and the Guineas Festival traditionally comes on the first weekend in May – though it can sometimes take place on the final days of April.

Newbury also boasts Group 1 fare in the month of May via the Lockinge, a key mile event.

Early in the month, Chester's May Festival is the first big meeting of the season on the Roodee and includes the likes of the Huxley Stakes, the Chester Vase, the Ormonde Stakes and, of course, the Chester Cup.

In the middle of the month, all eyes are on York for their Dante Meeting, headlined by the Dante itself and also boasting the Musidora Stakes and the Bronte Cup.

June

The first weekend in June is all about Epsom as the quirky layout stages the oldest Classic in the world – The Derby – on the Saturday, 24 hours after The Oaks over the same course and distance. The Group 1 Coronation Cup also takes place at the meeting.

Then in mid-June comes perhaps the biggest five days of the season via Royal Ascot, an unmatched ceremonial occasion full of pomp and Royal appearances, always a prominent fixture in the British summer.

The Royal Meeting is of course headlined by the Ascot Gold Cup, though a plethora of Group 1 races also includes the Queen Anne, the King's Stand, the St James's Palace Stakes, the Prince of Wales's Stakes and the Coronation Stakes. 

It is simply an unmissable week of racing from Tuesday-Saturday and one of the highlights of Britain's sporting summer.

Late June also brings the famous Northumberland Plate at Newcastle, a fiercely tough all-weather handicap. 

July 

With long sunny days, July is jam-packed with quality racing action. The Eclipse Stakes at Sandown is one of the first opportunities for the Classic generation to go toe-to-toe with their elders, while later in the month the same chance presents over a longer trip in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

In between times comes the helter-skelter of the July Cup at Newmarket as Headquarters stages the famous July Festival, which also includes the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes.

By late July, the focus turns to the famous Sussex Downs for Glorious Goodwood, another week-long extravaganza on the Flat.

The Sussex Stakes, Nassau Stakes and Goodwood Cup are all high-class Group 1 events, while the final day of meeting is headlined by the famous Stewards' Cup, a six-furlong dash across the Goodwood turf.

August

August is all about York and their International Meeting in the middle of the month. The Juddmonte International is a key all-aged contest over a mile-and-a-quarter that once more attracts a clash of the generations and has been won by the great and the good of the game.

Supporting events at York include the spine-tingling Nunthorpe Stakes over five furlongs and the Yorkshire Oaks, alongside the likes of the Lowther Stakes, the Gimcrack Stakes and the Great Voltigeur Stakes. 

At month end, Goodwood hosts the Celebration Mile, a Group 2 over the eight-furlong distance. 

September

Haydock's big Flat race of the season is the first major prize handed out in the month of September, the Sprint Cup over six furlongs, a race that can often be run on rain-softened ground on Merseyside.

In the middle of the month comes the final Classic of the year, the St Leger at Doncaster, the longest of the Classics and a severe test of stamina over an extended one-mile-and-six-furlongs.

Doncaster's Leger Meeting is a strong event, with the Scarbrough Stakes, the May Hill and Park Hill and Doncaster Cup all taking place.

At Newmarket, the autumn schedule comes to life via the Cheveley Park and Middle Park Stakes, while the Cambridgeshire is the first of the big late-season handicaps.

October

While the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp is amongst Europe's biggest races, closer to home the Fillies' Mile and Dewhurst Stakes are part of Newmarket's Future Champions Festival, alongside the famous Cesarewitch Handicap.

Before month end, Ascot once more takes centre stage for the British Champions Day card, featuring a host of Group 1 contests, including the Champions Sprint, Champion Stakes, and the QEII.

The last British Group 1 of the season is the Futurity Trophy at Doncaster, where the season ends as it began, with the November Handicap rounding off the campaign, either in the final week of October, or the first in November.

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