10 Biggest Horse Racing Events Around The World
You’ll find people fascinated with horse racing all over the world. On top of that, there are hundreds of horse racing tournaments in more than 30 countries per year. These races range from small events to some of the most luxurious races in the world. With that in mind, it’s understandable why horse racing is nicknamed the sport of kings.
Thanks to its long and rich history, horse racing has grown to be a well-respected sport in the industry with numerous prestigious racing events. With its growing popularity, sports betting started to reflect on horse racing, which only widened its appeal.
However, there are only a couple of horse racing tournaments that are considered to be the crème de la crème.
Take a look at the top 10 biggest horse racing tournaments around the globe in no particular order.
#10 The Nakayama Grand Jump
The Nakayama Grand Jump held in Funabashi, Chiba in Japan started in 1999, and it is considered to be one of the richest steeplechase races in the world. The tournament is traditionally held in mid-April, making it a popular event for avid horse racing tourists.
The prize fund is around $2 million, meaning it does not draw large international crowds compared to some other tournaments. The track is a curved dirt and turf track, covered with many obstacles that make the races even more exciting. All horses that enter the races need to be at least four years old to participate.
Fun fact — Oju Chosan has won the race five consecutive times since 2016, starting when it was five years old.
#9 Kentucky Derby
The Kentucky Derby might not be the most prestigious or valuable horse racing event on the list, but its name is one of the world’s most recognized. The tournament was established in 1875, and it has been held traditionally on the first Saturday in May at the Churchill Downs Racetrack in Louisville.
The purse prize is far less compared to the Dubai World Cup — around $3 million. There are many exciting races for spectators, but the most popular is certainly the US Triple Crown of Thoroughbred. The race doesn’t last more than two minutes, dubbing it as the “Greatest 2 Minutes in Sports”
Fun fact — Kentucky Derby’s fastest horse is Secretariat. The horse is also only one of two horses that won in under two minutes.
#8 The Cheltenham Festival
The Cheltenham Festival is by far the most popular horse racing event in the United Kingdom. Spectators and sports betting enthusiasts can see a range of British and Irish-trained horses at the festival and make interesting betting selections.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup run is held on the last day of the festival, meaning you will have to wait a few days to witness the most intriguing race. The festival originated in 1860, making it one of the oldest on this list. The Cheltenham Festival typically lasts four days, the last one being Friday.
Fun fact — Not including the periods during the two World Wars, the festival was canceled only once in 2001.
#6 Japan Cup
The Japan Cup is considered to be the most prestigious horse racing event in Japan. It starts on the last Sunday in November, making it one of the few great end-of-the-year horse racing events. The tournament has been active since 1981 at the Tokyo Racecourse located in Fuchu, Tokyo.
The tournament’s prize purse is around $5,8 million, making it one of the world’s richest events. Interestingly, the Japan Cup does not allow more than 10 foreign-trained horses in the line-up.
Fun fact — As of 2018, Gentildonna is the only two-time winner of the Japan Cup.
#5 Melbourne Cup
The Melbourne Cup has been active since 1861, and this yearly event’s starting date is the first Tuesday in November. The Melbourne Cup is the dream tournament for many world-class jockeys and horses as it’s prize fund is around $5,3 million.
Many consider this race to be the best 3,200-meter horse race in the world. The tournament is held at the Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, but it’s highly regarded worldwide. Interestingly, only one British-trained horse won the race in 2018.
Fun fact — The only three-time winner and the only consecutive winner (2003, 2004, 2005) is Makybe Diva.
#4 Pegasus World Cup Invitational
This time, another US-based horse racing event was held at the Gulfstream Park Racetrack in Hallandale Beach, Florida. It’s one of the first horse racing events of the year as its starting date is scheduled for the last Saturday in January.
Its first running was in 2017, while its second running broke the record for the richest prize fund in history — around $16 million. However, recent changes lowered the prize purse, but it’s still considered one of the most extravagant in the world — $9 million.
Fun fact — Owners can purchase entry into this Cup with the starting price of $1 million.
#3 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
Simply known as Arc, this horse racing tournament is one of the most elegant in Europe, taking place on the first Sunday in October. With the highest prize fund on the continent — around $5,6 million, and a long-standing tradition since 1920, Arc is the definition of richness regarding horse racing events.
The tournament is held at the Longchamp Racecourse in Paris, making it a first-class event for interested tourists. Spectators can enjoy live jazz music, champagne, and many other luxurious amenities. Geldings cannot enter the competition, but the weight-for-age race is open to three-year-olds and up.
Fun fact — The tournament was hosted by the Chantilly Racecourse in 2016 and 2017, while the Longchamp Racecourse was being renovated.
Often called the “Royal Ascot” of horse racing in Germany, it is held in Iffezheim, a location close to the German town of Baden-Baden. The tournament has been active since 1858, and it traditionally lasts three days.
Only 18 horses can take part in each race due to the narrow race track. Nevertheless, the races are equally entertaining and exciting as some other bigger races on wider race tracks. The Baden-Baden is one of the biggest horse racing events in Europe.
Fun fact — There was also a thoroughbred horse named Baden-Baden, known for winning the 1877 Kentucky Derby.
The second Australian horse racing event on our list is held every second or third Saturday in October since 2017. It’s a relatively new event, but one that has created a lot of buzz in the horse racing world. The races are held at the Randwick Racecourse in Sydney with a prize purse of $14 million.
Without a doubt, this tournament will receive its Group/Grade 1 status as soon as it becomes eligible for it. The entry fee is $600,000 for only 12 open slots. The weight-for-age sprint contest is open to thoroughbred racehorses.
Fun fact — Redzel won the first two runnings in 2017 and 2018 as a five- and six-year-old horse.
#1 Dubai World Cup
The last but not the least important horse racing event on this list is interestingly, the Dubai World Cup which is considered a newcomer in the world of competitive horse racing. It was established in 1996 based on a vision from Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, with the inaugural race being held at the Meydan Racecourse.
Since then, the tournament is one of the richest horse racing events globally, with a total prize fund of around $10 million. The tournament typically starts on the last Saturday in March. The event gathers thousands of spectators from all over the world every year.
Fun fact — Thunder Snow is the only two-time winner of the Dubai World Cup, setting the record in 2019.