As Brighton Pride Weekend draws to a close, the people of Brighton won’t be without entertainment for long as Brighton Racecourse's premier event of the summer, the Marathonbet Festival of Racing, runs from Wednesday to Friday.
The three-day event is the highlight of the racing calendar, and promises to be one of the most unique experiences racegoers will have the pleasure of attending.
More than 12,000 people will pass through the racecourse gates during the festival, with 1,500 bottles of Prosecco popped, 1,000 bowls of delicious fresh strawberries devoured and around 8,000 pairs of high heels sure to be cast aside by the end of the three days.
Wednesday 8 August - Marston Opening Day
The Marathonbet Festival of Racing kicks off in style on Wednesday with the day specifically geared towards enjoying a plethora of fiercely competitive flat racing.
Gates will open at midday with the first of seven races beginning at 2pm, with the final race at 5pm, with the richest race of the event, the Bombardier Brighton Mile, opening the racing proceedings with a whopping £21,000 going to the victor.
This race will allow the racecourse to boast one of its quirky and unique factors, as Brighton is one of few venues that doesn’t have a complete circuit, instead it has an undulating, left-handed horseshoe-shaped course stretching over a mile and four furlongs in length.
Likely the racecourse’s most distinguishing features are its spectacular views of the South Downs countryside and the seaside, overlooking the city of Brighton. The course, situated a mile away from the course on Whitehawk Hill, has been touted as “undoubtedly one of the most picturesque settings of any course” by broadcaster Channel 4.
Thursday 9 August - Ladies Day
The chance to get dolled up, Thursday is Ladies Day.
As well as the usual seven-race schedule throughout the day, there are several other forms of entertainment. Live music will be played in-between races, as well as a ladies’ lawn with a complimentary photo booth airstreamer and vintage pop-up bars around the course.
Thursday is the perfect opportunity for racegoers to dress to impress, with the most luxurious, stand-out outfit being recognised. A select committee will decide on the winners, with £500 worth of prize money to be forked out along with free champagne.
Aside from the competitions for the extravagant, the horse racing on show replicates Brighton’s admirable approach to the diverse community. The Silk Series, an initiative started in 2017 that is specifically aimed at giving female jockeys the chance to perform on a big stage, and in faster conditions, this is sure to be the highlight of Thursday’s racing at 5pm, with the Brighton Challenge Cup race coming just before that.
Friday 10 August - Festival Finale
The Finale has grown in popularity over the previous years, with a host of excellent prizes to be won and enthralling races to watch.
Possibly the most anticipated race in the three-day event falls on the Friday, as the Harry Bloom Memorial Handicap will likely provide the buzz horse racing enthusiasts are seeking.
The Brighton Bullet race headlines the day’s racing, a sprint event over five furlongs that promises to live up to its name; it’ll be over quickly. While the thunderstorms haven’t been as ferocious as expected, the ground is still immensely firm and ensures Friday’s race will be a photo-finish.
It will be a time for celebration as the event draws to a close, but the weekend beckons. The festival of racing may be quirky and eccentric, but it matches the entire ethos of the city, plus, it’s the perfect way to kick-start a long summer weekend.
Tickets for the Marathonbet Festival of Racing (August 8-10) start from just £15 and are still available across the three days at www.brighton-racecourse.co.uk