The world’s best horse racing meetings provide punters with a barrage of exciting action over a relatively short period of time. You will often see a number of prestigious Group 1 races clustered together, which attracts many of the world’s greatest horses, jockeys and trainers. These are five of the biggest horse racing meetings in the world:
Queen Elizabeth II is the guest of honour each year as Ascot hosts five days of exhilarating action. The Royal Ascot meeting features eight Group 1 races: the Queen Anne Stakes, King’s Stand Stakes, St James’s Palace Stakes, Prince of Wales’s Stakes, Ascot Gold Cup, Commonwealth Cup, Coronation Stakes and Diamond Jubilee Stakes. There are only 36 Group 1 races during the entire year, so to have eight at this meeting alone is remarkable.
Around 600,000 people don their finest garbs and pack into the famous Berkshire course to watch the drama unfold, and Royal Ascot never disappoints. The total prize fund exceeds £7 million and all the leading trainers want to secure victory at this meeting, so each race is fiercely competitive.
There have been countless iconic scenes over the years, such as Frankie Dettori’s flying dismount after riding seven consecutive winners and Her Majesty’s celebrations after her horse, Estimate, won the Gold Cup. No meeting can match Royal Ascot for pomp, ceremony and glamour, but it is all underpinned by fantastic racing on each of the five days.
Melbourne Cup Carnival
The Melbourne Cup Carnival is the biggest racing event of the year in Australia. The Melbourne Cup itself is dubbed the race that stops a nation, as millions of people gather around screens to watch the action. Yet it has immense worldwide appeal. Victoria Racing Club chairman Amanda Elliott claims the Cup was watched by more than 750 million people across 163 countries last year, which would leave it ahead of the Grand National as the world’s most popular race. It is also the richest two-mile handicap in the world, and it lures all the best stayers in the business to Melbourne to compete. You will see the magnificent calibre of the contenders if you check here for the latest odds on the race.
Melbourne Cup Day is the centrepiece of the eight-day carnival, but it is just one of many exciting days. Victoria Derby Day hots four exceptional Group 1 races: the $2 million Kennedy Cantala, $1.5 million Coolmore Stud Stakes, $1 million Empire Rose Stakes and the $2 million Victoria Derby. Kennedy Oaks Day sees the best three-year-old fillies strut their stuff in the $1 million feature race. The Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes and the Group 1 Darley Sprint Classic each carry prize money of $2 million on the final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, capping a fantastic meeting.
Breeders’ Cup World Championships
The Breeders’ Cup is a two-day event that takes place at a different location across the United States each year. In 2018, the total prize pool broke through the $30 million barrier, and then it increased to $35million in 2020, cementing its status as the richest and most prestigious event of the year in the US. The main event is the $7 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, one of the top five most lucrative races in the world. Many consider the Breeders’ Cup Classic to be the premier thoroughbred horse race of the year in the US, despite the Kentucky Derby gaining greater attention among casual fans.
The $6 million Breeders’ Cup Turf is another major race at the meeting. Iconic past winners include Conduit, High Chaparral and Enable. Irish maestro Aidan O’Brien is the most successful trainer in the race’s history, with six wins since 2002, while Dettori has won it a record five times in the saddle. There are 14 races in total, and seven are Group 1 races – the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, Breeders’ Cup Distaff, Breeders’ Cup Sprint, Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. The minimum prize money for each race is a cool $1 million.
Dubai World Cup Night
The Dubai World Cup is the richest card of racing in the world. The rulers of the Emirate stump up $35 million in prize money, spread over just nine race. The pick of the bunch is the Dubai World Cup itself, a Group 1 race with an eye-watering prize purse of $12 million. That makes it the richest race in the world. The Saudi Cup, which was first held in 2020, had prize money of $20 million, but it is not yet an established annual event and it refused to pay the winner in light of criminal charges, so right now we can still say that the Dubai World Cup is the world’s most lucrative race.
Dubai World Cup Night also features the $6 million Dubai Turf and the $6 million Dubai Sheema Classic. The Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen is another important race, while the meeting also features the UAE Derby, Dubai Gold Cup, Godolphin Mile, Al Quoz Spring and Dubai Kahayla Classic. Betting on the action is illegal in the UAE, but many racing fans around the world enjoy wagering on Dubai World Cup Night each year.
The Cheltenham Festival is the most important jumps racing meeting of the year. It features four days of top-notch racing, including the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Champion Hurdle and Stayers’ Hurdle. The Cheltenham Festival is the biggest betting event of the year in both the UK and Ireland, due to the abundance of great races on offer. It is held over four days each March, and it crowns the champions of the National Hunt season.
Fourteen of the 36 annual Grade 1 races in the UK calendar take place over the four-day period at Cheltenham – the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the Arkle, Champion Hurdle, Mares’ Hurdle, Novices’ Hurdle, RSA Chase, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Champion Bumper, Golden Miller Novices’ Chase, Festival Trophy, Stayers’ Hurdle, Triumph Hurdle, Spa Novices’ Hurdle and the Gold Cup, which is the biggest race of the year. The meeting is steeped in heritage and it never fails to serve up drama, intrigue and enjoyment.
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