They say it’s the sport of kings. A contemporary view might say monarchs, which is a fair assessment given that the Queen of England owns some of the most prestigious and successful breeds. Yet some of the world’s greatest horse racing events aren’t only for the wealthy and powerful, as hundreds of millions of people participate each year.
The Pegasus World Cup International Stakes
One of the newest competitions, the Pegasus World Cup International Stakes, started in 2017 by the Stronach Group, headed by famous businesswoman and philanthropist Belinda Stronach. Held at the Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida, the thoroughbred horse race offers a prize purse of $3 million for the winners of the 9-furlong race. While this event isn’t unique among horse races, it is one of the few that does not allow race-day medications such as Lasix.
The Aintree Grand National
Probably the most famous horse race in the world, the Aintree Grand National is exceptional among events. One of the main reasons is that it is virtually impossible to cheat since the race itself is a steeplechase. In addition, including jumps ensures an extra layer of unpredictability. A welcome addition, given the rife corruption and cheating associated with horse racing. Yet the event itself is spectacular and draws 150,000 to the border of Liverpool each year and is watched on TV by 600 million viewers.
The Royal Ascot
As the name implies, the Royal Ascot race is one for the establishment. However, the thoroughbred event is one of the most prestigious in the world. Queen Elizabeth II is well-known for her stable of prize horses. The Royal Ascot is the only race event the monarch regularly attends. Located in Ascot in Berkshire, the event hosts 13 of Britain’s 36 annual Flat Group 1 horse races and three Grade 1 Jumps. Therefore, it is more a show of impeccable horse training than sheer speed and luck, as with other events.
The Kentucky Derby
A truly American event, the Kentucky Derby was started by the grandson of none other than the legendary explorer William Clark. After visiting prestigious events in England and France, Clark wanted to bring the sport to the United States. As a result, the first race was held in 1875 to roaring success. And the rest is history. The event is held at Churchill Downs. It attracts 150,000 people who gather to watch one of the most explosive displays of horsepower on the planet.
The Dubai World Cup
Like so many other wondrous things, Dubai is home to one of the most luxurious and prestigious thoroughbred horse races globally. The event began in 1996 as a way for wealthy Arabs to show off their prized horses. Since then, it has grown to one of the most attended horse races anywhere on the planet. Additionally, the prize is one of the largest available at $12 million. Due to the cancellation of 2021’s event, the prize money is confirmed to be more than double next year should the event go ahead.