10 best horse races in the world

The sport of kings reaches its tentacles into all corners of the globe and it has massive appeal to lovers of horseflesh and gambling alike.

We have spent far too much time over the years wagering on races from all over, from the dirt tracks of the United States to the frozen tracks of Scotland, from steeplechases to midweek maidens in country Australia.


Obviously the group 1 and grade 1 races worldwide are the pinnacle of racing, but what are the best of the best? Which races belong on your bucket list?

Here we look at the 10 races we would love to attend, either for the sheer sense of occasion of the race day, or the sheer quality of the horses engaged.

How did we settle on the top 10 horse race worldwide

We took into account several factors when ruling in or out the various races.

Prizemoney was considered but some races demand selection in spite of how much they are competing for. Alternatively other races with massive prizemoney were discounted because of a lack of history.

We also considered the all-round experience for fans and how the race is perceived worldwide.

It’s no easy task but we have narrowed it down and come up with the following.

1. Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe

Distance: 2400 metres
Venue: Longchamp, Paris
Time of year: First Sunday in October
Prizemoney: Euros 5 million ($US5.68 million)

Simply considered the championship of European racing and boasts a list of winners that features so many champions of the turf. It was the richest turf race in the world until the Australian Turf Club introduced its sweepstakes-style sprint race The Everest. The Arc has is coming up for its centenary contest in 2020, which should be something special. The incomparable French trainer Andre Fabre has won the race seven times, while champion jockey Frankie Dettori has won it six, including in 2017 and 2018 on the champion mare Enable.

2. Kentucky Derby

Distance: 1 1/4 miles (about 2012 metres)
Venue: Churchill Downs
Time of year: First Saturday in May
Prizemoney: $US3 million
Arguably the most famous race of them all and certainly could not be left off this list. The run for the roses captures the imagination of all racing fans each year, particularly the 150,000-plus on track for the festivities and plenty of mint juleps. It is the first leg of the famed US Triple Crown, and victory in this race guarantees fame and fortune for the winner, if of course it is an entire. No.1 on the bucket list for the racing aficionado and party lover alike!

3. Melbourne Cup

Distance: 3200 metres
Venue: Flemington, Melbourne
Time of year: First Tuesday in November
Prizemoney: $A7.3 million ($US5.23 million)

The race that stops a nation in Australia demands inclusion on this list simply because of its fabulous history and the place it occupies in the national psyche. The Melbourne Cup has also moved on from the earlier history of being a handicap for tough old stayers to being an international contest of high class. The Cup is the jewel in the crown of the fabulous Melbourne Cup carnival, a week-long extravaganza at the magnificent racecourse of Flemington.

4. Grand National

Distance: 4 miles, 514 yards (6907 metres)
Venue: Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool
Time of year: April
Prizemoney: Pounds 1 million ($US1.31 million)
A divisive race as animal rights activists consider it extra dangerous for the horses competing, as they head around a demanding course that includes 30 testing jumps. For the race lover it is a magnificent spectacle, and it’s a huge live and TV event in England and around the world. Contains a massive field and can often be one of the most difficult races of the year in which to find the winner. Well, we have never been able to bag the winner in about 20 attempts anyway! Hopefully 2019 is the year.

5. Dubai World Cup

Distance: 2000 metres
Venue: Meydan, Dubai
Time of year: Last Saturday in March
Prizemoney: $US12 million
The race was only launched in 1996 but what an impact it made, with the US champion Cigar winning the inaugural race. And ever since it’s been in the mix for the best race of the year, with Meydan a great, neutral battleground for horses from Europe, North America and elsewhere. A truly international contest, hosted on the home turf of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, whose Godolphin operation has won the race a record seven times. Run on dirt and the feature of a rich and deep night of racing at a special location.

6. Japan Cup

Distance: 2400 metres
Venue: Tokyo Racecourse, Fuchu
Time of year: Last Sunday of November
Prizemoney: Yen 624,000,000 ($US5.62 million)
A fantastic race that has the crowd in a frenzy in racing-mad Japan. The race was launched ed in 1981 as an invitational international event to give Japanese horses the chance to compete against the best from elsewhere. But thanks to its world-leading breeding industry, Japan can lay claim to now having the best horses in the world. No foreign-trained horse has won the race since Alkaased in 2005. Tokyo Racecourse has the biggest capacity of any racecourse in the world, with room for 220,000 people plus and you can be sure it is rocking come Japan Cup day.

7. Epsom Derby

Distance: 1 mile 4 furlings 6 yards (2420 metres)
Venue: Epsom Downs, Surrey, England
Time of year: First Saturday of June
Prizemoney: Pounds 1.5 million ($US1.97 million)
The Derby really does have history on its side. It was first run in 1780 and is the original Derby, lending its name to so many classics around the world. It is Britain’s richest and most-famous flat race and is watched by royalty on course and millions around the world. The legendary Lester Piggott rode the winner of this race an astonishing nine times.

8. Breeders’ Cup Classic

Distance: 1 ¼ miles (about 2000 metres)
Venue: Various
Time of year: Late October/early November
Prizemoney: $US6 million
The second-richest race in the United States (behind the upstart Pegasus World Cup) is the highlight of the magnificent Breeders’ Cup world championship meeting, which is held at a different track every year. The Classic attracts the best of international gallopers at a middle distance, with the honour roll littered with superstars. The fact it sits amid the richest couple of days racing in the US makes it even more attractive.

9. W.S. Cox Plate

Distance: 2040 metres
Venue: Moonee Valley, Melbourne
Time of year: Late October
Prizemoney: $A5 million ($US3.6 million)
The weight-for-age championship of Australasia. Has been won four times in succession by the mighty Winx, rated as the world’s best thoroughbred. But champions of the Australian turf and from elsewhere have been winning this blistering contest for many years. The amphitheatre-type feel to the Moonee Valley course also adds to the atmosphere and it’s packed to the rafters each Cox Plate day.

10. Hong Kong Cup

Distance: 2000 metres
Venue: Sha Tin
Time of year: December
Prizemoney: $HK25 million ($US3.18 million)
Hong Kong is one of the epicentres of the racing world and deserves a race on this list. The HK Cup attracts gallopers from Europe and all around Asia and Australia and is the highlight of the International Day races. The day attracts a massive crowd of local and international punters, and the turnover is phenomenal. Sha Tin is also one of the great racecourses of the world. If you have the opportunity to be in HK for this day, don’t miss out.