Horse racing has been described as the sport of kings – and we would not argue with that. This regal sport has produced jockeys and horses that have become true stars of the sports world. But there is one aspect of the sport that sometimes gets overlooked.
Online sportsbook reviews might help you find a place to bet and horse racing reporters can tell you who should win the biggest races in the world. But the setting is sometimes just as glamorous as everything else on show. So here are five racecourses that we think are the best in the business.
Home to one of the most prestigious and famous race meetings in the world, Ascot has long been a byword for elegance in the sport. Over 300 years old, Ascot has held a strong relationship with the Royal family of the United Kingdom ever since it was opened during Queen Anne’s reign.
The Royal Ascot meeting is the obvious highlight of the year, as high fashion meets horse racing for five glorious days. Ascot is home to meetings throughout the year, however, and the course is overlooked by a majestic main stand that perfectly aligns with the surrounding English countryside.
Happy Valley, Hong Kong
For a completely different horse racing aesthetic, we now travel halfway around the world to the Happy Valley racetrack in Hong Kong. Originally built to allow British ex-pats a chance to enjoy horse racing far from home, the course is dwarfed by the skyscrapers surrounding it.
The seven tiers of the main stands are invariably full for the biggest meetings and the course has even become part of the Hong Kong social scene, with bars and restaurants busy even when there are no races scheduled. The setting makes a day out at the races even better here.
As with many areas of the business and sporting worlds, the Middle East is fast becoming an important destination – and the Meydan racecourse in Dubai sets new standards in this area. The main grandstand is visually stunning and is actually the longest single structure in the world at a mile long.
There is room for 60,000 spectators who are able to cheer on their favorites in the world’s richest race – the Dubai Cup. There is also five-star hotel at trackside for guests to enjoy, as well as a gallery, a horse racing museum, and even a nine-hole golf course.
Piazza del Campo, Italy
From 21st century luxury to medieval architecture. Next on our list of must-visit racecourses is the Piazza del Campo in Siena, Italy. This really is a course like no other, forming an oval around the central piazza in Siena. Races are held twice a year in July and August.
The sandstone buildings of the town – and the Tuscan hills – provide a picturesque backdrop to one of the toughest horse races in the world. Jockeys ride bareback around the course in front of the spectators whose vantage point is in the middle of the piazza.
Churchill Downs, USA
Where else to finish this trip around the most stunning racecourses in the world but at the home of the Kentucky Derby? Churchill Downs was renovated in 2005 at a cost of $121 million – and we have to admit that it was money well spent. The modernization of the place has to be seen to be believed.
There are high-class suites and state of the art video board providing information to the thousands of race-goers in attendance. But the distinctive grandstand still holds pride of place. As is the case with all these wonderful structures, the racing makes them shine for all the fans lucky enough to be there.
There are more interesting articles in our section on Horse Racing.