A Day at the Races: Top Picks Around the World

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It’s the perfect excuse to throw on your finest attire, raise a glass of bubbles and have a little flutter.

Commonly known as the sport of kings, horse racing dates back to ancient Roman and Greek times when riders took part in both chariot and mounted races (main image by You As A Machine).

Today’s events are a mix of high-society class, sports, fashion and folks simply out for a good time. Here are our picks for the top races around the world

Melbourne, Australia

Run at 3pm on the first Tuesday in November, Australia’s Melbourne Cup is ‘the race that stops a nation’. Race day is a public holiday in Melbourne so it’s no wonder the entire city gets behind the Cup!

Horse racing has been in Australia almost as long as European settlement. The first Melbourne Cup was run in 1861 by the Victoria Racing Club at the Flemington Racecourse and has remained an annual fixture ever since. Search and compare cheap flights to Melbourne.

VRC Derby Day, Melbourne, Photo
VRC Derby Day, Melbourne. Photo by Synyan.
Horses at Flemington, Melbourne, Photo
Horses at Flemington, Melbourne. Photo by BANAMINE

Kentucky Derby, USA

Horse racing in North America dates all the way back to 1665 in New York state, but the most famous race of all is the Kentucky Derby held in Churchill Downs, Louisville.

Every year since 1875 on the first Saturday in May, three-year-old Thoroughbreds race the one and a quarter miles (2 km) in the “Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports”. The Derby is the first leg of the US Triple Crown followed by the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.

Tradition plays a big role in the race so make sure you grab yourself a mint julep (bourbon, mint and a sugar syrup) and a bowl of burgoo (a thick stew of beef, chicken, pork and vegetables). Search and compare cheap flights to Louisville. 

Kentucky Derby. Photo by John Athayde
Kentucky Derby. Photo by John Athayde

Mauritius

The Champ de Mars Racecourse in Port Louis, Mauritius was opened in 1812 and is the oldest racecourse in the southern hemisphere. Racing is one of the most popular sports in Mauritius and races regularly attract crowds of 20,000 or more to the only racecourse on the island.

Champ de Mars has four classic events a year – the Duchess of York Cup, Barbé Cup, Maiden Cup and the Duke of York Cup. Search and compare cheap flights to Mauritius.

Racing at Champ De Mars, Mauritius. Photo by Hamish Mungur
Racing at Champ De Mars, Mauritius. Photo by Hamish Mungur

Mongolia

For gee-gees with a difference head to wilds of Monglia from July 11 – 13.

One of the eriin gurvan naadam (three games of men) at the Naadam festival in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, horse racing is a Mongol favourite.

Unlike in the west, Mongolian horse racing is a cross-country event, with races 15–30km long and up to 1000 horses taking part.

The top five horses in each class earn the title of airgiyn tav and the top three are given gold, silver, and bronze medals. The horse that finishes last is called bayan khodood (meaning “full stomach”). Search and compare cheap flights to Mongolia.

Naadam parade. Photo by Scott Presly
Naadam parade. Photo by Scott Presly
Naadam horse races. Photo by Scott Presly
Naadam horse races. Photo by Scott Presly

Ascot, UK

It’s a quintessentially British pastime, so nobody does a day at the races quite like the Brits.

A major event on the social calendar, Royal Ascot was founded in 1711 by Queen Anne and today combines the pomp of tradition with good old fashioned fun.

Pack a picnic basket and a couple of bottles of champagne and watch the Queen and Royal Family make their way into the Royal Enclosure before placing your bets at one of the many Tote kiosks.

Despite being held in June you will have to watch out for the British weather – it has a nasty habit of raining at some point during the five day event. Search and compare cheap flights to London.

Royal Ascot. Photo by Steve & Jemma Copley
Royal Ascot. Photo by Steve & Jemma Copley
A Day at the Races: Top Picks Around the World was last modified: October 8th, 2015 by Kara Segedin
Author: Kara Segedin (256 posts)

Writer, traveller, Tweeter, blogger and part-time adventurer. A kiwi living in London off to explore the world! I can never travel enough!