The Kentucky Derby is undoubtedly the biggest horse race in the world. It has been run every single year since 1875 and entertains millions of fans – some of whom hardly take any notice of the sport for the rest of the year.
This year will be no different and the fans will already be searching for the best bets Kentucky Derby markets can offer. There are still a few months to go until the big day, but the anticipation is already building. But horse racing doesn’t really stop these days and the following five races are some of the other big events on the sport’s calendar.
Known as “the race that stops the nation”, the Melbourne Cup starts at 3pm on the first Tuesday in November every year and is one of the richest races in the sport. It was first held in 1861 and, although the length has changed over the years, it is now a 3,200-meter handicap event for three-year olds and older.
The prize money for the event has reached almost $5.5 million in the last few years and the winner also walks off with a trophy weighing 1.65 kg made of 18-carat gold. It is a truly international occasion, with visitors from all over the world attending. It is such a big deal that the day is a public holiday in the Melbourne area.
Dubai World Cup
This may not be the oldest race on our list, having only been held since 1996, but it is definitely the richest. The prize purse is now $12 million and the best thoroughbreds in the world now enter this dirt-track event, which is the final race of Dubai World Cup night that takes place on the last Saturday in March.
The Dubai World Cup began life at the Nad Al Sheba racecourse. But in 2010 it moved to the Meydan racecourse, which has a grandstand that stretches half a mile long and can hold up to 60,000 spectators. For an extra touch of glamor, visitors can view the proceedings from the adjacent Meydan Hotel.
Breeders’ Cup Classic
This is a unique horse racing event in that it takes place at a different racecourse in North America each year and is a two-day affair with an invitation-only competitors’ list. There are a number of qualifying races in the run-up to the big day that comes around on the first Saturday of November.
As the racecourse changes from year to year, the attendance levels can vary widely. But the lowest ever was still just under 70,000 in 2007 and the level of interest in the US is only bettered by the Triple Crown races. There is a selection of races over the two days, with purses ranging anywhere from $1 million to $6 million.
Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe
This race could be argued to be the biggest in Europe and has been usually been run on the first Sunday in October for over 100 years. Only WW2 interrupted the sequence. It is open to thoroughbreds aged three years old and over and has been described not as a race – but as a monument!
The race itself is part of a glorious weekend and is over a 1.5 miles turf track course. No horse has ever won the race more than twice, although Frankie Dettori holds the record for most victories as a jockey, at six. Many of the most revered horses through history have taken the honors.
This historic race first took place way back in 1839 and is now part of a three-day event held at the Aintree racecourse in Liverpool, England. Unlike the other races in our list, the Grand National is a steeplechase with 16 jumps on a turf track. Runners and riders jump 14 of them twice over the four-mile race.
It is regarded as part of the social calendar in England and is one of those races where everyone is interested in the winner, no matter the level of love of horse racing. The 1993 event was famously declared void after a chaotic false start that was later dubbed “the race that never was”.