Horse racing, a sport dating back centuries, has gripped the world’s interest in recent years. The world of horse racing has a lengthy season, but those not directly involved in the industry are most familiar with the famous races that take place in the most decorated racing nations. The United States, UK, Australia and United Arab Emirates are home to several key horse races during the calendar with the largest purses, and the highest wagering tallies.
Royal Ascot – 18-22 June 2013 – Ascot, UK
Royal Ascot is a racing event held at Ascot Racecourse, the site of the majority of England’s Group 1 meetings. The event dates backs to 1711 and is attended by Royal Family members. The event takes place over a 5-day period.
Prix de L’arc de Triomphe – 6 October 2013 – Paris, France
The Prix de L’arc de Triomphe, held at Longchamp Racecourse in Paris, is a Group 1 race open to thoroughbreds. The race occurs late in the season on the first Sunday of October. It is France’s most acclaimed race of the season, and the third richest race in the world.
Breeders’ Cup World Championships – 1-2 November 2013 – Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California, USA
The Breeders’ Cup World Championships is a two day event that takes place at different tracks across the United States each year. The event in 2013 takes place at the Santa Anita Park in California. The event consists of 14 separate races with varying purses ranging from $500,000 to $5 million. Each race has a maximum of 14 entrants to the field.
Melbourne Cup Victoria – 5 November 2013 – Victoria, Australia
The Melbourne Cup is the top horse race within Australia and the richest one as well. The event is held at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne on the first Tuesday of November each year. The current record holder for the most wins is Maybe Diva who won the event three years in a row (2003, 2004 and 2005). The Melbourne Cup is observed as a holiday in the Melbourne and Victoria regions.
Earlier in 2013
Cheltenham National Hunt Festival – 12-15 March 2013 – Cheltenham Racecourse, UK
This event is spread over the course of four days with multiple races taking place each day. The event, held since 1860 in March, is the premier event of the season in Cheltenham and is one of the highest gambling weeks in the nation. The event coincides with St. Patrick’s Day, making it a popular festival. The event is one of the most controversial as a high number of equine injuries and fatalities have led to reviewed and altered standards.
Dubai World Cup – 30 March 2013 – Dubai, UAE
This race takes place at the Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, UAE on the last Saturday in March. The event carries a $10 million purse, making it the most lucrative race of the season. The event started in 1996 and is overseen by Emirate Horse Racing Authority. The 2012 winner of the event was Monterosso, a UAE trained horse owned by GoDolphin Racing.
Grand National Steeplechase – 6 April 2013 – Aintree, Liverpool, UK
The Grand National Aintree Racecourse, located in Aintree, Merseyside, England, is home to the Grand National Steeplechase event. The event is a 4.5 mile race over soft ground. The event has been in existence since 1839 and is held each year in early April. It is considered the most demanding horse race of the season; while 40 horses begin the race many do not finish; generally only a quarter of the horses in the field actually complete the race. Red Rum, a gelding from Ireland, holds the record for most Grand National Titles. He won three Grand Nationals during the 1970s.
Kentucky Derby – 4 May 2013 – Louisville, Kentucky, USA
The Kentucky Derby, the first event of the United States’ Triple Crown event, is one of the most recognizable horse racing events in the world. The event is held on a 1.25 mile course at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. The event takes place on the first Saturday in May each year. The time-record is currently held by Secretariat, one of the most famous horses in racing history, with a completion time of 1:59:40.
The Preakness Stakes – 18 May 2013 – Baltimore, Maryland, USA
The Preakness Stakes is the second leg of the Triple Crown. It is a 9.5 furlong course on dirt. The event is held just two weeks after the Kentucky Derby and carries a purse of $1 million. The time record for the event is also held by Secretariat, the record set in 1973, has largely been disputed with a resolution only coming to light in 2012.
The Epsom Derby – 1 June 2013 – Epsom, UK
The Epsom Derby is the premier race of the season for three-year-old colts in England and one of the oldest. The first Epsom Derby was run in 1780. The event is currently held on the first Saturday in June. The Epsom Derby is the richest race in the United Kingdom. In 2012 the $1.725 million purse went to a horse by the name of Camelot.
By Julie Bowman