|Friday 1st March 2019|
10 of the Best Racecourses in the World
It’s one of the oldest and most popular sports in the world, and horse racing continues to generate millions of pounds each year. Originally attracting the upper classes, it now has universal appeal. Some courses offer first-class facilities and luxurious surrounds, while others are steeped in tradition and it’s all about the history and atmosphere. With so many racecourses to choose from, we’ve compiled a list of 10 of the best racecourses in the world – and why you should add them to your bucket-list.
Aintree – Liverpool, England
Opened in 1828, Aintree was originally used for flat racing, before turning its attention to steeplechasing in 1836. Its most-famous race is the Grand National, which debuted in 1839 and the ‘Grand National Course’ is one of the more dangerous – with 16 fences to clear. Unsurprisingly, there have been more than 40 casualties since the year 2000, but it doesn’t stop the Grand National being the biggest and most-admired race in the steeplechase calendar, with over 500million viewers tuning in worldwide. Fancy a flutter on this year’s event? Find the latest Grand National odds.
Ascot – Berkshire, England
Opened in 1711 by Queen Anne, Ascot is to this day, one of the leading courses in the UK and is a major event in the horseracing calendar. The Royal Family arrive at the course in horse-drawn carriages each day of Royal Ascot, which is undoubtedly the series of races fans look most forward to. Royal Ascot is also the most-attended race meeting, with over 300,000 people looking to attend notable races such as The Gold Cup and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Churchill Downs – Kentucky, USA
There are few races that can compare to the interest and excitement of the Kentucky Derby – held at Churchill Downs. The racecourse opened in 1875, has a capacity for 170,000 fans and holds the record for the longest continuous sporting event in the United States. Founder, Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. actually attended the Epsom Derby in 1872 and was that inspired, he wanted to re-create something similar over the pond. The other major event, the Kentucky Oaks, also holds the title for the oldest-running sports event in America.
Epsom Downs – Surrey, England
Epsom Downs opened in 1661 and is best known for hosting the Epsom Derby, often referred to as the ‘original derby’. One of the unique features of Epsom Downs is that the racecourse is in a large open space and members of the public are able to spectate, without paying a single pound – hence why the capacity stands at 110,000. Epsom Downs is home to two of the biggest flat races in the British racing calendar – the Derby and the Oaks.
Longchamp – Paris, France
Opened in 1857 in the middle of a public park, Longchamp (or Hippodrome de Longchamp as it’s known in France) has capacity of 50,000 and is home to more than half of the Group 1 races held in France. Most famously, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is one of the richest and most admired races in Europe – with the winning jockey taking home close to €3 million. The Grand Prix de Paris is equally as famous and has been held on Bastille Day since its inauguration in 1863.
Flemington – Melbourne, Australia
Flemington is one of the largest racecourses in the world, accommodating more than 130,000 spectators and unsurprisingly, it reaches capacity when the Melbourne Cup comes around! Opened in 1840, Flemington Racecourse has to be up there with some of the most impressive and recognisable tracks – in fact, was even named in Australia’s National Heritage List in 2006. The racetrack recently underwent a massive upgrade in order to raise the bar and offer fans an “unrivalled experience”.
Meydan – Meydan City, Dubai
One of the newer racecourses having opened in 2010, Meydan has certainly made a name for itself since. The track is home to the Dubai World Cup, formerly the richest horserace in the world (now surpassed by the Pegasus World Cup) with a $10million win-out. However, Meydan is equally known for its lavish features, which include a five-star hotel, tennis courts, racing museum, golf course, restaurants and bars… how’s that for somewhere to watch a horserace?
Santa Anita – California, USA
Dubbed by many ‘the world’s most beautiful race track’, Santa Anita opened in 1934, after California legalised pari-mutuel betting – and of course, there’s plenty of money to be made in this industry. In the inaugural Santa Anita handicap, the prize pot stood at $100,000, but now it’s a $1million competition. Being in such close proximity to Los Angeles, Santa Anita is somewhat of a playground for the rich and famous, with Hollywood’s finest frequenters at the racetrack.
Saratoga – New York, USA
Saratoga is the fourth-oldest major sporting venue in the United States, having opened in 1863 – and the racetrack is home to the Travers Stakes, the oldest major thoroughbred horse race. The track is often referred to as the ‘House of Upsets’ or ‘Graveyard of Champions’ due to underdogs coming out on top over the years. An interesting fact: one of the unique features of Saratoga is the bell, which is rung exactly 17 minutes before each race as a signal for the jockeys to enter the paddock.
Tokyo – Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo racecourse is known as the ‘Racecourse of Racecourses’ when it comes to horseracing in Japan and with good reason – it breaks so many records. Not only is the racetrack (that opened in 1933) the largest in terms of capacity (223,000 with 13,750 seats), but it’s home to one of the largest video screens in the world – measuring a massive 218 feet by 37 feet – perfect for getting a better glimpse of the action! Staging both flat run and steeplechase, the most famous races are the Japan Cup and the Tokyo Yushun (or Japan Derby, which is said to rival the Epsom and Kentucky derbies).