The Biggest Horse Race in the World – A List of All Top Venues

In the past decades, horse racing has fallen behind in the list of most popular sports. Although it doesn’t enjoy mass adoption and media coverage, it’s still a few billion pounds worth industry. But how popular horse racing actually is? Well, you’d be surprised that the equestrian sports are still pretty popular as well as profitable. The bets competitions have prize pools of a couple of million pounds each as well as traditions that date back to the early 18 century. Nowadays millions of punters around the world are interested in the biggest horse races in the world and here’s why.
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1. Kentucky Derby

Location: Churchill Downs Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
Found: 1875
Distance: 1 1⁄4 miles (10 furlongs; 2,012 m)
Surface: Dirt
Track: Left-handed
Purse: £2,444,987
1st Place: £1,515,892

Our list of the biggest horse races in the world opens up with the most popular race in the US – the Kentucky Derby. It’s a Grade 1 competition held on the first weekend of May each year and it’s one of the top markets for online gambling in the USA. It’s also nicknamed ‘The Run for the Roses’ as the winners of the race are covered up with a blanket of flowers.

The entire race lasts for about 2 minutes which is the reason why it’s also known as ‘The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports’.

The Kentucky Derby originated in 1875 as the American version of one of the most popular horse races in the UK – the Epsom Derby. The first 10 jockeys bag up a prize pool of nearly £2.5 million while the winner takes more than half of it. However, this race is also quite popular among punters as they would bet more than £170 million. Celebrities are also drawn to the biggest horse races in the world and even Queen Elizabeth II herself has been a regular attendant.

2. Dubai World Cup

Location: Meydan Racecourse Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Found: 1996
Distance: 1 1⁄4 miles (10 furlongs; 2,012 m)
Surface: Dirt
Track: Left-handed
Purse: £28,508,593
1st Place: £9,811,980

Dubai is a rich country that is famous for its luxurious lifestyle and as it appears, it has the world’s most valuable horse race. The Dubai World Cup had a prize purse of staggering £28.5 million last year despite being one of the youngest events among all.

The very first event happened in 1996 and since it is being up and running every year on the last Saturday in March. As you can imagine, the running is exclusively for Thoroughbred horses and is sponsored by the Emirates Airline.

Jockeys from over 20 countries come here every year to compete for the insane grand prize of £9.8 million which is why is considered the richest and biggest horse race in the world.

3. Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe

Location: Longchamp Racecourse Paris, France
Found: 1920
Distance: 2,400 metres (1½ miles)[1]
Surface: Turf
Track: Left-handed
Purse: £5,000,000
1st Place: £2,857,000

Another worthy event is the French Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe run open for, you guessed it, thoroughbreds. This Grade 1 equestrian sport is noted to be the second most prominent horse race in Europe, after the Epsom Derby.

Furthermore, it’s in the top 3 highest paid competition in the world and has a rich history that dates back from 1920. Also known as the Arc, this run is a really important part of the entire ecosystem of horse races.

4. Breeders’ Cup Classic

Location: North America
Found: 1984
Distance: 1 1⁄4 miles
Surface: Dirt
Track: Left-handed
Purse: £5,713,715
1st Place: £2,970,240

Moving out from the oldest continent, we’re heading into North America for yet another Grade 1 competition of stamina and speed among the greatest jockeys and horses in the world. This race has a unique concept and is held within 2 days in the USA and occasionally in Canada.

The Breeders’ Cup is often regarded as the most prestigious competition on the continent, despite the official crown holder being the Kentucky Derby. The Classic is also a vital part of the conventional Triple Crown that includes Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes, and the above-mentioned Kentucky Derby.

5. Melbourne Cup

Location: Flemington Racecourse Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Found: 1861
Distance: 3,200 metres (2.0 miles)
Surface: Turf
Track: Left-handed
Purse: £6,529,920
1st Place: £3,592,595

The Melbourne Cup is the biggest horse race of the year in Australia where world-class jockeys are testing their skills every year on a 3.2km racetrack. The competition begins in November and is often referred as ‘the race that stops the nation’.

An interesting fact about the Melbourne Cup is that it has not been won by a British-trained horse in the last 25 years until Cross Counter broke the spell in 2018.

6. The Everest

Location: Randwick Racecourse, Australia
Found: 2017
Distance: 2,400 metres (1½ miles)[1]
Surface: Turf
Track: Right-handed
Purse: £11,409,944
1st Place: £3,917,952

The Everest run is yet another Aussie horse race for Thoroughbred which is actually the youngest in our list. Originated in just 2017, this race is the only one that has not been ranked a Grade 1 and yet holds a massive purse of £11.4 million.

Needless to say, that the huge prize attracts jockeys and trainers from all over the planet, despite lacking the prestigious rankings. The tricky part, however, is that there’s an entry fee of £489,899 and just 12 spots available for anyone interested to partake.

The Biggest Horse Races in UK

Inevitably, Great Britain is also heavily involved when it comes to horse racing. Similar to football, most of the rules originated on the territory of the island. In fact, some of the biggest horse races in the UK are also among the major worldwide and generate more than £4 billion. A large amount comes from betting on equestrian sports due to the taxes managed by the Horserace Betting Levy Board as well as media rights. If you’re also interested in horse betting, check out the best gambling sites in the UK. The Biggest Horse Races in UK

Another interesting fact about this popular sport is connected to the origin of the horse breed Thoroughbred which we’ve been mentioning all the time. This popular crossbreed has been made in England and is popular with its speed, agility, and sprint. It was created with the intention of being the greatest horse species and is still the most popular when it comes to horse racing. Now let’s take a look at the biggest horse races in the UK.

1. Epsom Derby

Location: Epsom Downs, Epsom, Surrey, England
Found: 1780
Distance: 1m 4f 6y (2,420 m)
Surface: Turf
Track: Left-handed
Purse: £1,623,900
1st Place: £921,538

Undoubtedly, the Epsom Derby is the richest and the most distinguished horse running in the UK. Its prize money is more than £1,6 million and has been around since 1780. The participating horses must be Thoroughbred colts and fillies at the age of three.

The official name of Epsom Derby is Investec Derby, however, it is also known as the Derby. In fact, this name has become so popular that the American Kentucky Derby was named after it.

2. Cheltenham Festival

The Cheltenham Festival is one of the biggest horse racing events in the UK. Its total purse is a few million pounds divided on various Grade 1 runnings held within 4 days. The Cheltenham Festival is the focal point of the National Hunt racing calendar and has originated in 1860. Several of the best sports betting brands such as Coral and Unibet are sponsoring the equestrian sport which is visited by more than 60 000 people daily. It’s worth mentioning that punters are betting hundreds of millions over the course of the spectacle which takes place in March of every year. Below, we’ve listed two of the most popular Grade 1 races that are part of the Cheltenham Festival along with key details.

Cheltenham Gold Cup

Location: Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham, England
Found: 1924
Distance: 3m 2f 70y (5,294 m)
Surface: Turf
Track: Left-handed
Purse: £625,000
1st Place: £351,688

The Cheltenham Gold Cup is a jump-race that holds the highest purse of £625,000 which was given in 2020. But it wasn’t always such a well-paid competition. Back in the days, the winner of the Gold Cup would take home merely £685.

Of course, a lot has changed since the first run in 1924 and the success that this cup has placed him as a vital part of the festival.

Champion Hurdle

Location: Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham, England
Found: 1927
Distance: 2m 87y (3,298 metres)
Surface: Turf
Track: Left-handed
Purse: £450,000
1st Place: £253,215

The Champion Hurdle is classified as a Grade 1 National Hunt hurdle race in Britain. It is the second highest prize money competition from the festival, where the winner bags more than £250 000 and, because of the sponsorship of Unibet it is known as the Unibet Champion Hurdle.

As the name suggests, this event is the most prominent hurdling in the calendar. Its first-ever race was held in 1927 and ever since has featured many of the best hurdlers in the history of the sport.

3. Grand National

Location: Aintree Racecourse Aintree, Merseyside, England
Found: 1839
Distance: 4 miles 514 yards (6.907 km)
Surface: Turf
Track: Left-handed
Purse: £1,000,000
1st Place: £561,300

The Grand National is one of the biggest horse races of the year which takes place in Aintree Racecourse, England. The competition originates from 1839 and offers a life-changing grand prize of £561 000.

Each year, 40 of the best jockeys are competing in the most popular steeplechase trying to land their horse in one of the top 10 places. The total prize purse is £1 million, however, the last rider takes just £1000 which is a really dramatic difference.

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