The Horse Races You Should Know
Rear more
Everything You Need to Know About Horse Racing

Find out what horse racing is and where it is most popular. Learn what kinds of tournaments and horses there are.


Horse racing is one of the oldest sports in the world. It has a variety of formats in different countries. As of 2008, it has a worldwide market worth of over $115 billion dollars.

The different obstacles, breeds, and distances run depend on a country’s tradition and culture. However, horses racing through the tracks in a span of minutes to see who will dominate the match remains the same everywhere.


Horse racing is commonly found in the following regions: North America, Europe, Oceania, Africa, Asia, and South America.


North America


Horse racing in North American countries has existed since 1665. This was when a Newmarket racecourse was established in what was previously known as Salisbury, New York. This course was a British Thoroughbred racing track in Suffolk, England.

Types of horse racing commonly found in this region are Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, and Standardbred racing. There are also Arabian horse racing but this competition is lesser seen in the region.


Organized horse racing began when the American Stud Book was created in 1868. This book is a list of all thoroughbred in the United States.

Because there are more than 300 race tracks in the U.S alone, a lot of major horse racing tournaments have been created. Most notable is the top four: Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes, and Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Horses that finished first in all three receive a title called Triple Crown. Meanwhile, horses that have competed and won all four major races are called to win the Grand Slam of Thoroughbred racing.


Up until now, there have only been 13 horses that won the Triple Crown. Here are the horses who won:

  1. Sir Barton
  2. Gallant Fox
  3. Omaha
  4. War Admiral
  5. Whirlaway
  6. Count Fleet
  7. Assault
  8. Citation
  9. Secretariat
  10. Seattle Slew
  11. Affirmed
  12. American Pharoah
  13. Justify.




There are various countries in Europe where horse racing is popular. The countries in Europe where horse racing is popular are the following:

  1. Belgium
  2. Czech Republic
  3. France
  4. Great Britain
  5. Greece
  6. Hungary
  7. Ireland
  8. Italy
  9. Netherlands.

These countries have a long-standing history of horse racing where various major international tournaments have been created. In Great Britain, they have the Grand National while France has Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.




Australia is one of the top three Thoroughbred racing nations in the world. It has established long-standing tournaments like the Melbourne Cup and Wallabadah Cup.

On the other hand, the sport has helped New Zealand’s economy grow. This was made obvious when horse racing generated 1.3% of the country’s GDP in 2004. Additionally, there are 69 Thoroughbred and 51 harness clubs licensed in the country.




Horse racing is popular in Mauritius and South Africa. This sport has been established in both countries since the early 1800s. The Mauritius Turf Club racecourse is considered to be the second oldest active turf club in the world. The sport also has over 20,000 annual attendees in Mauritius.

Meanwhile in South Africa, they have the Durban July Handicap which is held annually. It has more than 50,000 people who attend it every year at Greyville Racecourse. 




Most countries in Asia have racecourses. Here are the countries in Asia where horse racing is popular:

  1. Japan
  2. Hong Kong
  3. China
  4. Macau
  5. India
  6. Malaysia
  7. Mongolia
  8. Pakistan
  9. Singapore
  10. Philippines
  11. South Korea
  12. United Arab Emirates.

The most popular tournaments in Asia are the Japan Cup and the Dubai World Cup.


South America


The sport is popular in Argentina where their tournament equivalent to the Derby is the Gran Premio Nacional. Their most famous jockey is Irineo Leguisamo.

Seeing which horse will dominate the tracks is not only the most exciting part of the race. It is when you wager and see if you successfully guessed which will finish first. Not only that but you can guess which ones will finish second, third, and even the last place.

Unlike other sports, horse racing has more flexible odds you can bet on. It’s possible to guess the exact order the horses will finish. You can also guess which ones will make it to the top three. Deciding how you want to bet on them is all up to you.


Major Tournaments in Horse Racing


Horse racing is admittedly one of the most profitable and enjoyed sport in the world for bettors like you. Because of this, major tournaments where only the best horses compete in have been created in various countries.

Here are some of the most notable major tournaments in the world: The Royal Ascot, Japan Cup, Kentucky Derby, The Dubai Cup, and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.


The Royal Ascot

The Royal Ascot is an annual tournament held in Ascot racecourse in Berkshire, England. The week of the races usually becomes a Royal Week because it is attended by Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the British Royal Family. The tournament is usually held in June with over eighteen group races included.


Additionally, it is the most attended tournament in the world. There are more than 300,000 people who attend annually. However, unlike other competitions, a strict dress code is enforced. Formal wear needs to be worn in most areas of the racetrack. Women are allowed to wear a day dress with a hat, not including the length and size stated in the rules. While men are required to wear a black or grey morning dress with a top hat.

The highest total prize money placed in the Royal Ascot was £6,580,000 in 2016. It increased by 18% from the previous year.


Japan Cup

The Japan Cup is one of the most prestigious horse racing tournaments in the world. It is an invitation-only event held usually on the last Sunday of November. The race is at Tokyo Racecourse in Fuchu, Tokyo, Japan.


The Japan Racing Association made it an invitation-only event to give local horses a chance to compete with other horses on an international level.

Furthermore, Japan Horse Racing is one of the richest horse racing tournaments in the world. It has over ¥476 million prize money or €5.8 million.


Japan Racing Association

The Japan Racing Association (JRA) is a public company in Japan. It holds and manages racecourses, horse-training facilities, and betting facilities. It is operated and regulated by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.


Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is a Grade I stakes race held in Louisville, Kentucky, United States. Three-year-old Thoroughbred horses compete in a two-week-long tournament during the Kentucky Derby Festival. It is usually called “The Run for the Roses” race because of a blanket of roses draped on the horse that will finish first. It also has a prize money of $3,000,000 million or approximately ¥324,070,000.

This is the first leg of the Triple Crown title followed by the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.


The Dubai Cup

The Dubai Cup is a flat race tournament held annually at Meydan Racecourse since 1996. This tournament is operated and managed by the Emirates Racing Authority (ERA).  It consists of eight Thoroughbred contests and one Purebred Arabian contest. It is considered to be the world’s richest horse race with prize money of $12,000,000 or approximately ¥1,296,290,000.

The horses run a distance of about 10 furlongs or 2,000 metres when the competition starts on a Sunday of November.


Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe

The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is considered to be one of the most prestigious horse races in Europe. It is named after the Arc de Triomphe which is a famous monument in France.

Horses that win the tournament are often called champions. This is because all the horses that enter are already famous in their own way.

Three-years old and up horses excluding geldings are allowed to compete. It also has a prize money of €5,000,000 or approximately ¥601,580,000.


Horse Racing Formats


There are different kinds of racing tournament formats for horses. Some can only be found in certain countries like jump racing. Meanwhile, the most popular format of flat racing can be seen almost anywhere the sport exists.

These are the following formats in horse racing: Flat racing, Steeplechase, Draft Racing, Maiden Racing, Harness Racing, and Endurance Racing.


Flat Racing

Flat racing is a form of horse racing that is held on a level racecourse. The horses are tested based on speed, stamina, or both as they run from 2 furlongs (402m) up to 3 miles (4,828 m).



A steeplechase is a form of horse racing where the horses are required to jump across fences and hurdles. It is otherwise known as “jump racing”.


Draft Racing

Draft racing or otherwise known as “Ban’ei racing” is a form of horse racing in Japan. Draft horses are required to pull heavy sledges up sand ramps while drivers balance themselves on sledges.


Harness Racing

Harness racing is a form of racing where horses are required to pull a two-wheeled cart called a sulky. They also need to have a specific pace while their jockey rides behind them on the cart.


Endurance Racing

Endurance racing or otherwise known as distance racing can last multiple days. This is because, on some races, horses only have to run ten miles. On the other hand, other endurance races can extend up to one hundred miles.


Maiden Racing

Maiden racing is for horses that have not yet won a race. This form of horse racing is usually done over a variety of distances and conditions depending on the sex and age of the horse.


Major Horse Groups

There are more than 350 breeds of horses in the world. They are classified into distinct major groups. These groups are based on a horse’s physical attributes, speed, and more. Here are the groups that the horses are divided into light horses, heavy horses, and warmbloods.


Light Horses/Hot blood Horses

These are horses used mostly for riding and light work. Their legs are lean and athletic which means they have both speed and agility. Light horses can be classified based on their use, characteristics, or special gaits. They are also known as hot blood for their fierce temperament.

A few of the most common light horses are Arabian and Thoroughbred.


Draft Horses/Cold blood Horses

Heavy horses are commonly known as draft horses. These horses can be recognized by their height and build which makes them well-suited to heavy work. They typically have short backs with powerful hindquarters. They weigh on average of about 635 to 910 kg and are about 16 to 19 hands tall. These horses are known to be cold blood for their level-headed temperament.

The most common draft horses are Percheron, Belgian, and Clydesdale.



Warmbloods are a group of middle-weight horses that originated from Europe. They are bigger and more refined than light horses. Additionally, they can pull heavier weights compared to draft horses.



READ MORE: About Horse racing and how to Bet on Horse racing