Horse racing events are arguably the most prestigious sports competitions in the world. These races are attended by equestrian enthusiasts, punters, and people who simply love the elegance and festivities of race day.
Equestrian sports, especially horse racing, are often enjoyed by the elite, as the costs and training involved at the highest level are not necessarily accessible to all. Horse racing, and other equestrian competitions like dressage, polo, driving, eventing and jumping also have long traditions that are heavily tied to noble and royal families since as early as the 15th and 16th centuries.
Today horse racing comes in three main forms that each have different names depending on where you are.
Flat racing involves horses galloping between two points on typically flat or oval courses. Harness racing is where horses trot or pace while pulling a driver that sits in a sulky. Jump racing is also relatively common and features obstacles that horses must hurdle over while racing.
The surface that horses run on also depends on the race type and country. Most harness racing is done on dirt tracks while flat racing and jump racing is commonly done on grass turf or synthetic turf in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand while dirt tracks are more common for flat racing in North America and Asia.
Despite more recent claims from animal rights groups that horse racing, in all of its forms, is cruel and leads to unnecessary stress, injury, and death for horses, these events continue to be among the world’s leading elite sporting events.
The biggest horse races in the world, which are listed below, also stand out for the massive impact that they have on the sports betting industries of their respective nations.
One of the biggest horse racing events in the annual racing calendar is the Royal Ascot. This race is one of the most famous and prestigious horse racing events in the UK – a country where the second most well-attended sport is horse racing.
Attendance at Royal Ascot accounts for 10% of all English horse racing events and the Queen of England also goes to the races every year. The entire Royal Ascot meet spans five days, featuring some of the world’s best-known jockeys as well as horses. During the competition, the British royal family also announces their own jockeys.
In addition to the Royal Ascot, the Cheltenham racing festival race is considered the second most famous event on the UK horse racing timetable. Held every March, Cheltenham is one of the most anticipated events in global sports betting every year with an estimated 500 million pounds being spent on Cheltenham betting sites each March.
During the entire Cheltenham festival, bets can be placed on nearly 30 races, generating a huge amount of betting traffic for betting sites with Cheltenham betting offers. In 2021, Cheltenham was held between March 16 to 19 at Cheltenham Racecourse just outside the town of Cheltenham. In addition to sports betting, this event is also known as one of the UK’s biggest leisure events.
The Grand National is another British horse race and it is held at Aintree near Liverpool. Defining features of the Grand National are the fact that the race is run over 4 miles and features 15 jumps which must be made twice each over the two laps of the course.
The Grand National is held roughly a month after Cheltenham which allows riders and horses to take part in both events. The Grand National is also the most valuable jump race in Europe – largely because sports betting at this event is common for Brits who do not usually use betting websites and bookmakers.
In addition to events in the UK, the USA’s Breeders’ Cup is also one of the most eye-catching horse races in the world. The originally one-day event has been extended to two days for more than a decade due to the popularity of the festival.
One of the defining features of the Breeders Cup is that only young mares and foals can compete. Another notable aspect of the Breeders’ Cup is that a maximum of 14 participants can enter each tournament. The event is held each year in the last quarter of the calendar year. The 2021 Breeders ’Cup will take place between November 5th and 6th.
The prestige of horse racing is further enhanced by the United Arab Emirates’ Dubai World Cup. This horse racing event is still quite young in the world of horse racing with the first race being held in 1996.
This year, the Dubai World Cup also celebrated its 25th anniversary. This event was held at the Meydan racetrack and generated high betting traffic, especially given that betting online has increased in prominence significantly over the last few years. The 2021 Dubai World Cup was held on Saturday, March 27, shortly after the Cheltenham race.
In the southern hemisphere, the biggest horse racing event is undoubtedly Australia’s Melbourne Cup. The 2 mile, 24 horse, handicapped race has been run since 1861 and today is the world’s richest handicap race of that distance and one of the world’s biggest turf races.
Every year the Melbourne Cup is run on the first Tuesday of November at 3:00 pm and residents of the state of Victoria even get the day off work for the event. Unsurprisingly, Melbourne cup betting is a huge feature of the meet with the best Melbourne Cup betting sites in Australia competing for over 200 million Australian dollars that are bet on that race alone.
Of course, in addition to the aforementioned races, other famous, high-ranking horse races are also held year after year and some are arguably bigger than those mentioned above. Some of the world’s other biggest horse races include the Japan Cup in Japan, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and the Prix d’Amérique in France, and America’s Belmont Stakes and Kentucky Derby.
For centuries horse racing has served as one of the world’s most prestigious sports and with these races being tied so heavily with cultural and economic activities it is unlikely that we will see them go anywhere anytime soon.