Horse racing has been a popular entertainment for people for centuries, in fact there is archaeological evidence of horse races being held in ancient Greece and Rome. Moreover, horse races were held at the ancient Greek Olympic Games in the seventh century BC. The popularity of such events remains unchanged, with races being held all over the world every day. But there are a few races that stand out through their tradition or through the amount of prize money that can be won, races that attract large viewership across the globe and also vast amounts of money wagered on the outcome
The Kentucky Derby might be the most popular horse race in the world and definitely one of the most important sports events in the United States of America, it is also known as "The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports" or "The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports". The event is held every year in Louisville, Kentucky at Churchill Downs. Every year since 1875, on the first Saturday of May, over 150,000 people witness this event from the stands and another few tens of millions in front of their television screens. This year the race was won by Always Dreaming with jockey John Velazquez, trained by Todd Pletcher. Getting the first place at the Kentucky Derby earns the winner 1,425,000 dollars. The Kentucky Derby is the first leg of the Triple Crown, an award that is given to any horse that wins the three most important races in a single year.
The Preakness Stakes
This race is held every year in Baltimore, Maryland, a couple of weeks after the Kentucky Derby, and it is the second leg of the Triple Crown. The race is held at Pimlico Race Course and it started all the way back in 1873. This race also lasts about two minutes; the fastest finish was a minute and 53 seconds back in 1973. It is the second most popular horse-racing event in terms of spectators in the United States, after the Kentucky Derby. In 2017 the race was won by Cloud Computing, trained by Chad Brown.
The third and final leg of the Triple Crown is held every year on the first Saturday of June. It is the oldest race of the Triple Crown as it started in 1867 and it is also the longest as the track has a length of one and a half miles. The race takes place at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, and it attracts over 20 million viewers on television in the United States of America alone. Tapwrit won the race in 2017, but Secretariat remains the most famous horse in the history of the race because it set the track record in 1973 and won the Triple Crown as well.
Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe
This is the biggest horse race in France and one of the biggest in Europe. It takes place every year on the first Sunday of October at Longchamp Racecourse in the French Capital and it is one of the races with the highest amounts of prize money, 4 million Euros. It is currently the world's richest turf race and third-richest horse race overall. In 2017 the prestigious race in the French capital was won by Enable with jockey Frankie Dettori.
The Royal Ascot
This is a week-long event, with 16 group races, and one of the oldest horse racing events in the world. It started all the way back in 1711 and usually, the Queen of England and the Royal Family attend the event. The Ascot Racecourse is located in Ascot, Berkshire and it is probably the most famous horse racing course in Britain. Around 300,000 people travel to Ascot for the event every year and the prize money has gone up as well, in 2016 the total purse was around 6.5 million pounds.
Dubai World Cup
This event lacks the tradition as it only started in 1996, but what it does have plenty of is money. It is currently the richest horse race in the whole world as the winner gets no less than 10 million dollars. The race is now held at the Meydan Racecourse, which was opened in 2010 alongside The Meydan Hotel where guests can watch the race from their rooms.
The Grand National
This is one of the most spectacular races in the world, the course is four miles long and it features 30 fences, a brutal track for horses and jockeys alike. The event takes place every year at Aintree Racecourse and it started in 1839. This race is so spectacular that it draws people that don’t usually follow horse racing. In 2017 the event was won by One For Arthur, ridden by jockey Derek Fox and trained by Lucinda Russell.
This event started in 1861 and is regarded as the greatest 3,200-meter horse race in the world. The race is a part of the annual Melbourne Cup Carnival, a week-long event that is held in November. This year Rekindling won the race, becoming the first three-year-old horse to win the Melbourne Cup since 1941.
Breeders' Cup World Championships
This is a two-day event that is held at different venues every year and it has the nickname of “the richest two days in sports”. The combined prize purse is over 20 million dollars. The event started in 1984 and is usually held in the United States and Canada.
Nakayama Grand Jump
This event held in Funabashi, Japan is definitely the most important horse race in Asia. The first race in 1999 is similar to the Grand National in terms of entertainment as it is a steeplechase event. Oju Chosan, trained by Shoichiro Wada, has won the last two editions of the race. The prize money is around 1.7 million dollars and the race is held every year in April.