Equine excellence and fashion elegance combine to make the international racing circuit a hotbed of glitz, glamor and sporting action.
And a new year brings a new calendar of exhilarating horse races across the globe.
Here are the races you need to know about it 2019.
Pegasus World Cup
When: January 26
Where: Gulfstream Park, Florida, US
What: Formerly the richest race in the world, with a purse of $12 million for its inaugural running in 2017, increased to $16M in 2018. It’s a 1 1⁄8-mile (9 furlongs) race on dirt and is open to horses four years old and up.
For the 2019 edition, the format was revamped, with a purse of $9M for the original race and $7M available for a turf equivalent.
When: March 12-15
Where: Cheltenham, UK
What: The world’s most celebrated jump meeting is a four-day feast of racing and revelry attracting huge crowds of Irish and British punters to the attractive track in the Cotswolds region of Gloucestershire. The festival’s showpiece is the coveted Cheltenham Gold Cup, a three-mile marathon over 22 fences. Last year’s winner was Native River.
Dubai World Cup
When: March 30
Where: Meydan, Dubai
What: Billed as the world’s richest day of racing, the lucrative event holds a special place in the Dubai racing calendar and ends the United Arab Emirates racing season. The race is run on dirt over 2,000 meters (about 10 furlongs). Godolphin’s Thunder Snow is the reigning champion.
The Grand National
When: April 6
Where: Aintree, UK
What: Perhaps the most famous horse race in the world and an icon of the British sporting calendar. First run in 1839, the epic race is best known for its huge jumps such as Becher’s Brook, Valentine’s and The Chair and is a four-mile slog over two laps of the famous Liverpool course. It’s the race that transcends racing, with generations of people taking a once-a-year interest in the sport of kings. Last year’s winner was Tiger Roll.
When: May 4
Where: Churchill Downs, USA
What: The Kentucky Derby is one of the world’s most iconic races. The mile-and-a-quarter dash on dirt, dubbed “the most exciting two minutes in sports,” carries a first prize of $1.425 million. Last year’s champion was Triple Crown winner Justify.
When: May 4
Where: Newmarket, UK
What: First run in 1809, the Group 1 race — the first Classic of the UK Flat season — is open to three-year-old thoroughbred colts and fillies and is run over one mile on turf. In theory it is the first leg of the British Triple Crown, along with the Derby and the St Leger, but the feat of winning all three has rarely been attempted in recent years. Saxon Warrior, trained by Aidan O’Brien, won last year’s race.
When: May 5
Where: Newmarket, UK
What: Also held in Newmarket, the mile Classic for three-year-old fillies over turf has been staged since 1814. Billesdon Brook ran out the winner last time.
When: May 18
Where: Baltimore, USA
What: As the middle leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness is a true test of perseverance. It traditionally comes just two weeks after the Kentucky Derby and all eyes are on the race to see whether a rare treble is still on the cards. Justify kept such hopes alive in 2018.
When: May 31
Where: Epsom, UK
What: The third UK Classic of the season and the second open to three-year-old fillies only. It’s been run over a distance of 1 mile, 4 furlongs and 6 yards on the grass of Epsom Downs since 1779. Forever Together, trained by Aidan O’Brien, won the latest edition.
When: June 1
Where: Epsom, UK
What: The Epsom Derby has long been regarded as the richest and most prestigious Flat race in the British racing calendar. Run over a mile-and-a-half, it carries a prize fund of at least $1.9 million, with the winner claiming just north of $1 million. The reigning champion is Masar.
When: June 8
Where: Belmont Park, USA
What: The lucrative horse race is open to three-year-olds and is the third and final leg of the famous Triple Crown. It has crowned a plethora of champions since its inauguration in 1853 — with Justify completing the treble in 2018.
When: June 18-22
Where: Ascot, UK
What: With eight Group 1 races and an audience with Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, Royal Ascot is the highlight of the British racing calendar. Each day begins with the pageantry of the horse-drawn royal procession in front of grandstands packed with the top hats, tails and high fashion. The highlight of the festival is the prestigious Gold Cup, won by Stradivarius in 2018.
When: June 29
Where: The Curragh, County Kildare, Ireland
What: Ireland’s equivalent of The Derby, held three weeks later. Open to three-year-old thoroughbred colts and fillies, it is run over a distance of 1 mile and 4 furlongs on turf. Latrobe won the event in 2018.
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes
When: July 27
Where: Ascot, UK
What: Britain’s most prestigious open-age Flat race, the “King George,” is run over a distance of 1 mile and 4 furlongs. The iconic event has been won by some of racing’s biggest stars over the years. The Sir Michael Stoute trained Poet’s Word won last year’s race, making Stoute the race’s most successful trainer with six wins.
When: September 14
Where: Doncaster, UK
What: The oldest of Britain’s five classics, dating back to 1776. The race for three-year-old thoroughbred colts and fillies is run over a distance of 1 mile, 6 furlongs and 115 yards. Jockey Ryan Moore won a consecutive title on board Kew Gardens in 2018.
Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
When: October 6
Where: Longchamp, Paris, France
What: The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is a mile-and-a-half test of speed and stamina for three-year-olds and above, with a prize purse of $5.6M. The “Arc” has been held at leafy Longchamp for more than 150 years — barring a recent sojourn at Chantilly while it underwent a major redevelopment. Legendary jockey Frankie Dettori holds the record for most race wins, securing his sixth on defending champion Enable in 2018.
When: October 12
Where: Sydney, Australia
What: Run over six furlongs, The Everest brings the world’s top sprinters together for the richest turf race in the world. The race’s prize pot is set to rise to $14 million in 2019 and $15 million in 2020. Redzel has clinched back-to-back titles since its inauguration in 2017.
British Champions Day
When: October 19
Where: Ascot, UK
What: The conclusion of the British Flat racing season and the richest purse on the calendar with more than $5.4 million in prize money across six races. The legendary Frankel ran his last race here in 2012 with a 14th straight win in the Champion Stakes.
When: November 1-2
Where: Churchill Downs, Kentucky, USA
What: The Breeders’ Cup is a celebration of the very best thoroughbreds and pits US horses against the cream from the rest of the world. The highlight is the Breeders’ Cup Classic, considered the unofficial fourth leg of the Triple Crown, which is often a big factor in deciding Horse of the Year. The mile-and-a-quarter dash on dirt has been in existence since 1984, and the latest edition was won by the aptly named Accelerate. The festival also involves the Breeders’ Cup Turf — a showpiece for turf horses, carrying a prize fund of $4 million with winning connections earning $2.2 million.
When: November 5
Where: Flemington, Australia
What: Having been overtaken as the country’s richest race, the Melbourne Cup is still the “race that stops a nation.” It’s been a highlight of Australia’s social and sporting calendar since 1861. Cross Counter was the 2018 winner.
When: November 24
Where: Tokyo, Japan
What: Japan’s richest race is held every year at Tokyo Racecourse, with the world’s best three-year-olds and above descending on the country’s capital. Home-grown talent has flourished at the event, with every winning trainer and owner coming from Japan since 2008. Almond Eye is the reigning champion.
Hong Kong International Races
When: December 8
Where: Sha Tin, Hong Kong
What: It’s one of the highlights of the racing calendar, a fan favorite for decades with $12 million at stake. World class jockeys and thoroughbreds do battle over four Group 1 races on the turf of the Sha Tin Racecourse amid the skyscrapers of downtown Hong Kong. The bumper prize money is spread across the Hong Kong Sprint, the Hong Kong Vase, the Hong Kong Mile and the showpiece Hong Kong Cup