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The 11 Biggest Horse Races in the World

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I was looking over the entries for The Grand National, and my grandson asked why I cared so much about a horse race that doesn’t happen here?” I explained to him the history and prestige of this international event and other big horse races in the world.

Most of the biggest horse races are popular because of the lucrative purses, however, some are famous for the history of the event and the grueling course. If you love horse racing, you want to read this post.

Here is a look at the 11 biggest horse races in the world.

Picture of crowd at a big horse race.

Kentucky Derby

The first race on our list is the Kentucky Derby. This race is held in Louisville, Kentucky, and is one of the most prestigious horse races in the world. It is also the first leg of the Triple Crown, a series of three races that are the most challenging for a horse to win.

The Kentucky Derby is also one of the longest-running sporting events in the United States, predating both the World Series and the Super Bowl. Every year, on the first Saturday in May, crowds flock to Churchill Downs to watch as the fastest three-year-old thoroughbreds in the world compete for a chance to win the coveted Kentucky Derby trophy.

The Derby always draws a large crowd both in person and on television. In addition to the big race, there are also several other races held throughout the day, making it a true celebration of horse racing. For many people, the Kentucky Derby is the only horse race they watch all year. It is a truly unique event that you should not miss.

The Kentucky Derby is a 1.25 mile (10 furlongs) race on dirt, and the current record is 1:59 flat, set by Secretariat in 1973. The Kentucky Derby is open to three-year-old Thoroughbred horses.

Picture of horses racing at the Grand Nationals, one of the worlds biggest horse races.

The Grand National

Every year, horse racing fans from all over the world flock to the Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, England, to witness one of the most iconic races in the sport – The Grand National.

First run in 1839, the race covers a grueling 4.5-mile course and features a number of challenging obstacles, including fences that are taller than 6 feet. As a result, it is considered one of the toughest races in the world.

Due to its difficulty, the race often sees several falls and unseats, which adds to the excitement for spectators, who come from all over the world to watch.

With a prize fund of over £1 million, it is also one of the richest races in horse racing, attracting some of the best horses and riders from all over the globe.

Over the years, the race has been won by some of the most famous horses in history, including Red Rum, a three-time winner of the race. Today, The Grand National remains one of the most famous horse races in the world, with millions of people tuning in to watch each year.

Melbourne Cup

The Melbourne Cup is widely considered one of the biggest horse races in the world. The race is held annually on the first Tuesday in November at the Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, Australia. It is a 3,200-meter race for thoroughbred horses three years and older.

The prize money for the race is $8 million, making it one of the richest horse races in the world. The race attracts many of the world’s top horses, trainers, and jockeys and is watched by millions of people around the globe.

Famous past winners include Phar Lap and Makybe Diva. Consequently, the Melbourne Cup continues to attract both local and international interest, cementing its place as one of the world’s premier horse races.

The Melbourne Cup has been run since 1861, making it one of the oldest horse races in the world, and is often referred to as “the race that stops a nation” due to a public holiday being declared for race day.

Pegasus World Cup

The Pegasus World Cup is one of the biggest horse races in the world, with a purse of $16 million. It is a Thoroughbred horse race that is held annually at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida.

The race is open to horses three years old and up, and it is run at a distance of 1 1/8 miles on dirt. The Pegasus World Cup was first held in 2017, and it quickly became one of the most prestigious races in the sport.

In 2018, the race was won by Gun Runner, who went on to win the Dubai World Cup. The 2019 Pegasus World Cup was won by Mongolian Groom, who narrowly defeated McKinzie. 2020’s winner was KNOWN AGENDA. The 2021 winner was Nicks’ Go, and the 2022 winner was Life if Good. The Pegasus World Cup is one of the most anticipated horse races of the year.

The Dubai World Cup

The Dubai World Cup is one of the richest horse races globally and is run annually at the Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The brainchild of the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the race was first run in 1996.

The event now features nine races with purses totaling $30 million – making it the world’s richest day of racing. The Dubai World Cup itself has a purse of $10 million, making it the richest single-horse race in the world.

The winner of the Dubai World Cup also receives a gold trophy worth $250,000. In addition to the large purses, the Dubai World Cup also attracts some of the best horses from around the globe.

The race has been won by some of the world’s greatest racehorses, including American Pharoah, Arrogate, and Cigar. The race is open to horses three years old and up. The Dubai World Cup is contested over a distance of 2,000 meters (about 1¼ miles).

Picture of racehorses.

The Breeders Cup Classic

The Breeders’ Cup Classic is one of the richest and most prestigious horse races in the world. Ever since it was first run in 1984, the Classic has been a significant draw for the best thoroughbreds from around the globe.

The Classic is run over a distance of 1¼ miles, and the purse for the race is often over $5 million. The race has been won by some of the most famous racehorses in history, including American Pharoah, Secretariat, and Seattle Slew.

In recent years, the Classic has been dominated by international challengers, with horses from Japan, England, and Ireland winning the last three editions.

The winner of the Classic automatically receives an invitation to compete in the following year’s Dubai World Cup, another major event with a massive purse.

The Classic is run at a different track each year, adding to its prestige and making it a truly international event. It is no wonder that the Breeders’ Cup Classic is considered one of the biggest horse races in the world.

The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe

The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is one of the biggest horse races globally for several reasons. First, it is held at the Longchamp Racecourse in Paris, which is one of the most prestigious horse racing venues in the world.

Second, the race features some of the best Thoroughbred horses from all over Europe. Finally, the purse for the race is one of the largest in horse racing, with a winner’s share of 2 million euros. As a result, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is a highly competitive and hugely popular event on the horse racing calendar.

Japan Cup

The Japan Cup is one of the biggest horse races in the world. It is a Grade 1 turf race for three-year-olds and up thoroughbred horses. The Japan Cup was established in 1981 and is currently held at the Tokyo Racecourse in Fuchu, Tokyo.

The race is 2,400 meters and offers a purse of ¥600 million (approximately USD 5.6 million). The Japan Cup attracts some of the best horses worldwide and is the most prestigious horse race in Japan.

In addition to the large purse, the winner of the Japan Cup also receives a gold trophy. The Japan Cup is truly a spectacle and is definitely one of the biggest horse races globally.

The Everest

The Everest is one of the biggest horse races in the world. It is a Thoroughbred horse race held annually at Royal Randwick Racecourse in Sydney, Australia. The Everest is open to fillies and colts aged three years old and up.

The race is run over a distance of 1,200 meters (about 6 furlongs), and the total prize money for the race is $15 million. This makes it the richest horse race in Australia and the richest turf race in the world.

The Everest attracts some of the best sprinters globally, and it has been won by some of the most famous horses in racing history. The race has been held since 2017, and it has quickly established itself as one of the premier horse races.

Saudi Cup

The Saudi Cup is considered one of the biggest horse races in the world for a number of reasons. First, it offers a purse of $20 million, making it the richest horse race in history. Second, it is held at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Saudi Arabia, which is one of the most prestigious venues in the world.

Finally, the Saudi Cup attracts some of the best horses in the world and some of the most talented jockeys. As a result, the Saudi Cup is truly a must-see event for any horse racing fan.

Epsom Derby

The Epsom Derby is one of the biggest horse races in the world, and it has been held annually at Epsom Downs Racecourse in Surrey, England, since 1780. The Derby is a Group 1 flat horse race open to three-year-old colts and fillies.

It is run over a distance of 2 miles and 4 furlongs (4,023 meters), and it is known as the richest horse race in the United Kingdom. The Derby is one of the five classic races in the UK, along with the St. Leger Stakes, the Oaks, the 1,000 Guineas, and the 2,000 Guineas.

The Epsom Derby is one of the most famous horse races, attracting tens of thousands of spectators each year. Its combination of history, prestige, and popularity makes the Epsom Derby also one of the most important horse races in the world.