It is the sport of kings and has diverse spots around the world. The following selection of racecourses includes emblematic places that become real focal points of the international jet set whenever a derby is run, in other words, an annual equestrian competition of special importance.
Horse racing is one of the most exclusive hobbies. But more than for the race itself, horse racing is chosen for the show and for many more factors as the festive air around the race or the enthusiasm for wearing elegant clothes.
It is one of the oldest sports, with its origins in the prehistoric nomadic tribes from Central Asia who first domesticated horses around 4500 BC. For thousands of years, horse racing flourished as the sport of kings and nobility. However, modern races exist mainly because they are a perfect way to legalize gambling.
They started to become a professional sport during the reign of Queen Anne (1702-14), when match racing made way to multi-horse races. These races evolved in England, and they were offering bigger and better horses. Due to the rapid spread of the sport the need to form a central government authority became apparent. In 1750 horse racing’s elite met at Newmarket and formed the Jockey Club, which to this day has complete control over the English races.
Other important types of horse racing are harness racing, jump racing and quarter horse racing.
Unlike France and England, Spanish horse races are not very well known. That’s why some professional jockeys, such as Isabel Vaquero and Claudine Cazalis spread this exciting sport. They started a few years ago at the Zarzuela racecourses (Madrid) and now they are in Dos hermanas (Sevilla), so anyone can attend and learn everything that a day of racing involves.
So if you like horse racing today we want to recommend some of the most important racecourses in the world.
La Zarzuela, Madrid, España
It is located on the mount of La Zarzuela, in the neighborhood of El Pardo. It opened for business in May 1941 and many races have been held there until 1996. Later, it was reopened in 2005. Among other important prizes, the racecourse hosts Madrid Grand Prix and the Villapadierna Grand Prize, considered the Spanish derby.
Meydan, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
This is one of the most luxurious racecourses in the world. Its new sports complex is like a city. More than 1,300 million dollars were invested there. The public can attend the races at the 60,000-seat grandstand of 1.6 kilometers long. Another alternative to the grandstand is booking a terrace of one of the 290 5-star rooms of the only hotel located in the racecourse, or whach it from a yacht marina where you can follow the competition without getting out of it. The race course has a race track that is 2,400 meters long and is the largest in the world. But there is also an all-weather track of 1,750 meters long. It has 10 restaurants, museum, theater and the headquarters of the Racing Club Dubai. However, gambling is forbidden by the Muslim religion.
Royal Ascot, Berkshire, Inglaterra
It is located in the small town of Ascot, and it is linked to the Royal Family because it is owned by the Crown and it is close to Windsor Castle. There the best hatters compete to dress the heads of the European jet set women.
Longchamp, París, France
It was built in 1857 and inaugurated by Napoleon III. Its beauty inspired the painters Manet and Degas, among others, to capture the place in some of their works. It is located in the middle of the famous Bois de Boulogne park, and offers the most prestigious horse races:
The Ispahan Prize (in May)
The Grand Prix of Paris (in July)
or the Arc de Triomphe Prize (in October)
These races bring together the aristocracy with the most elite and selected people in Europe and where the stakes are high.
Churchill Downs, Louisville, EE.UU.
The first race was run on May 17th, 1875. It holds the Kentucky Derby, the most famous race in the United States; it is usually called “the two most exciting minutes in sports” for its duration, and it is also referred as “the “Run for the Roses” for the garland of 554 red roses that is placed on the winner.
Maroñas, Montevideo, Uruguay
It was inaugurated on February 3rd, 1889 by the Jockey Club of Montevideo. It has a main track of 2,065 meters and a training track of 2,000 meters. With a seating capacity of 2,426 people and around 5,500 standing.
It is specially famous for the José Pedro Ramírez Grand Prize that has been held since January 1st, 1889. Maroñas is, along with the Palermo Racecourse in Argentina and San Isidro, a reference point for the most important turf in the River Plate.
Other racecourses that are worth mentioning are: Argentino de Palermo, Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina, Ciudad Jardín, San Pablo, Brazil, or Epsom Downs, Surrey and England.
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