Horse Racing is now very much a global business, and the world’s premier racecourses attract hundreds of thousands of people every year. Each racecourse offers its own brilliant sporting occasions and brand of hospitality – and, if you love a day at the races, here are a few racecourses to visit before you place your final bet!
Opened in 1711 by Queen Anne, Ascot has more history than all the other racecourses on this list, and cemented its place amongst the best racecourses in the world with a £185 Million redevelopment between 2004 and 2006. In June, Royal Ascot plays host to one of the world’s biggest race meetings and social events, though Ascot’s most prestigious race is the King George And Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes which is held in July. It also hosts Champions Day in October, and 9 of England’s 32 Group-1 Races are run here. The social occasion is celebrated with designer dresses, Michelin Star dining – and several hundred thousand bottles of Champagne.
Meydan may be most famous for holding the world’s richest race, The Dubai World Cup, but the grandstand, which is over a mile in length, is also the world’s longest single structure. It opened in 2010, replacing the old Nad Al Sheba Racecourse, and now houses the five-star Meydan Marina Hotel, a museum, and a 9-hole golf course.
Opened in 1875, it has been the home of the prestigious Kentucky Derby ever since. It is named after Henry Churchill who leased the original 32 hectares on which it’s built, but it was later taken over by a consortium who reduced the Kentucky Derby to 10-furlongs, whilst introducing the decorating of winners with roses, and also commissioning the globally renowned Twin Spire Grandstand. The racecourse has the capacity to fit in 165,000 standing racegoers and over 50,000 seated ones. It also boasts 79 elite suites, and the Kentucky Derby Museum. Meanwhile, it has hosted 7 Breeders Cup Meetings, and will next play host in 2018.
Racing was introduced into the area in 1840, and the course hosted the first Melbourne Cup in 1861, a race that now officially stops the Australian Nation for one day every November. The Melbourne Cup now attracts horses from England, Ireland, France, Germany, New Zealand, Japan and Hong Kong., whilst crowds flock to soak-up the stunning panoramic views from the gallery. The record crowd is in excess of 129,000.
Best known for being the home of what is arguably Europe’s best race, the Arc de Triomphe, the first race was run here in 1857. It now plays host to more than 50% of France’s Group-1 races and, come October, the Arc meeting attracts runners from around the globe to do battle for the right to be called the best middle-distance horse in the world. Meanwhile, the delights of Paris await racegoers at night.
Jump Racing may not quite have the same pulling-power as Flat-racing, but no meeting boasts a better atmosphere than Cheltenham in March, where the best of the English take on the best of the Irish at the Cheltenham Festival, with the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Queen Mother Champion Chase, and the Champion Hurdle being the showcase races. Cheltenham also underwent a major redevelopment, in order to keep-up with the world’s other premier racecourses, and it hosts many prestigious meetings throughout the year.