Horse racing is a glamorous activity, with lots of events that attract celebrities, politicians, and other famous members of the high fashion elite.
So much so that racing created a fashion trend of its own, with women using fancy large hats and men’s bow ties and colorful suits.
However, which ones are the most glamorous races in the world? We pick our favorites!
1. The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
Widely regarded as the most prestigious race in the world, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe was originally designed to showcase French racehorses only. However, as the race became more popular, horses from all over Europe (and eventually all over the world) began to contest the 1 ½ mile race at Longchamp Racecourse.
The inaugural running occurred in 1920, and some of the greatest racehorses of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries count “the Arc” among their victories, including Ribot, Sea-Bird, Mill Reef, Sea the Stars, and Enable.
The race is sponsored by Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club, and its 5 million Euro purse makes it the richest flat race held on the grass- the surface that the majority of the racing world prefers. The racing scene on Arc weekend is imbued with French culture, including their food and fashion.
2. The Dubai World Cup
The newest race on this list, the Dubai World Cup was the brainchild of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rahid Al Maktoum, a member of the royal family of the United Arab Emirates. First, run in 1996, the race was the richest in the world at the time and was notable as being one of the only major races outside of the United States that was run on dirt.
As a result, American horses do well in the Dubai World Cup, and American winners include champions Cigar, Silver Charm, and Curlin. European horses such as Dubai Millenium and Thunder Snow, however, have also had a major impact on the race.
The Dubai World Cup is the finale to Dubai World Cup Night, a festival featuring several million-dollar races. It is hosted by Meydan Racecourse, a gorgeous facility that includes the world’s only five-star trackside hotel, several top-class restaurants, and a racing museum. The celebration exudes both luxury and a love of the sport.
3. The Kentucky Derby
The average United States citizen may not know much about horse racing these days, but they’ve heard of the Kentucky Derby. At least if you enjoy betting on races in twinspires.com, Kentucky Derby must be one of the races you can’t miss.
The oldest continually run sporting event in North America, the Kentucky Derby is steeped in Southern traditions, many of which do not have to do with horses at all. Ladies wear big and elaborate hats while gentlemen sip mint juleps. The University of Louisville Marching Band plays Stephen Foster’s classic song, “My Old Kentucky Home,” and everyone, no matter where in the world they hail from, feels like a Kentuckian.
Of course, some of the greatest racehorses in history have also run in- and won- the Kentucky Derby. Among the winners in recent decades are Triple Crown winners Justify and American Pharoah and Horses of the Year Authentic and California Chrome. The track and stakes record for the Kentucky Derby is held by none other than Secretariat, a horse that many consider to be the greatest of all time.
4. The Derby Stakes
Without this race, it’s unlikely that any of the others on this list would even exist.
The great Thoroughbred breeder Federico Tesio once said “The Thoroughbred exists because its selection has depended, not on experts, technicians, or zoologists, but on a piece of wood: the winning post of the Epsom Derby.”
This great race had its start literal centuries ago, first being run in 1780. Capitalizing on the success of a new race from the year before- the Oaks Stakes, for three-year-old fillies- the 12th Earl of Derby and his guest, Sir Charles Bunbury decided to create a similar race open to both sexes. The first four runnings were held at a mile, but in 1784 it was lengthened to 1 ½ mile, and it has remained at that distance.
Over the course of the nineteenth century, the Derby became the embodiment of English sport, featuring equine champions (such as West Australian, Gladieteur, and Ormonde) and controversy (most notably, 1844 running, in which the first-place finisher “Running Rein” was found to be, in fact, a four-year-old).
Nearly all major racing countries began to host races modeled after the Derby, and most still do: the United States, France, Ireland, Germany, Japan, and the United Arab Emirates all host their own Derbies. To witness the Derby is to witness history itself.