The world of horse racing is graced with some of the highest profile events of any sport, yet even within this arena there are a few examples that stand out from the crowd.
Here is a quick look at the races which sit at the top of the prestige tree and should be on the list of must-see events for fans of equestrian pursuits.
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The Grand National
This annual meet-up is held in the UK and regularly rakes in hundreds of millions in bets, with the top trainers and jockeys vying to take home a slice of the hefty prize pot.
Estimates on the global audience for the Grand National sit at over half a billion, so in terms of being seen and celebrated globally, few other horse races can really come close. It has even inspired movies, TV shows, works of art and games that you can play at a casino online, making it an important cultural event and not merely just a sporting one.
The Kentucky Derby
While the Grand National is run over a distance of more than four miles, meaning that there is a lot of strategy involved and the opportunity for upset at several points, the Kentucky Derby is significantly shorter at just 1.25 miles and thus arguably a lot more exciting, even if it takes the animals and their riders an average of two minutes to complete.
The $3 million prize purse no doubt helps to up the ante, and the fact that the race is frequented by a lot of famous faces each year is another reason that it deserves a place on this list.
The Royal Ascot
Another race which takes on British soil, the Royal Ascot has been run for over a century and is so called because it is always attended by Queen Elizabeth II herself, along with whichever members of her extended family are feeling in the mood for the event that year.
The pomp and ceremony involved in the lead up to the actual racing all help to increase the prestige of the Royal Ascot, aside from the fact that a head of state and her retinue are there in the flesh, albeit kept away from the public in their own enclosures. Add to that the strict dress code which applies to men and women alike, and you have a recipe for a five day long festival of old-world opulence and excess.
Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
Paris plays host to this particularly prestigious horse race each fall, and since the top prize is typically worth close to $3 million it is also a pretty big payday for whichever jockey manages to beat out the competition.
Like many European races, it has its origins in the mid-19th century and it has been dominated for the past two decades by Frankie Dettori, who has managed to win it on no fewer than six separate occasions, including most recently in 2018.
The Preakness Stakes
Along with the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes, this race forms the Triple Crown and offers a hefty $1.5 million prize purse in its own right.
The Preakness Stakes actually started two years before its counterpart in Kentucky, all the way back in 1873. Over the decades its prestige has continued to grow, and it has a number of historic moments to its name. The record time for the race was set all the way back in 1973 by legendary racehorse Secretariat, as part of its Triple Crown win. Only four other horses have won the Triple Crown since, adding to the intense, exciting atmosphere that descends upon the track in Baltimore each year.
Of course the Melbourne Cup has to get a mention as it is largely considered one of the most difficult horse races to win.