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Six of the Best Racecourses from Around the WorldPosted on Tuesday 6th August 2019 @ 14.10

We preview six of the best racecourses across four different continents.

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Cheltenham

Set in the heart of the Cotswolds, Cheltenham is home to some of the finest National Hunt racing anywhere on earth. Sited in 350 rolling acres, it has stood since 1815, and is now one of the largest courses around, attracting crowds of up to 68,000 to its most iconic meets.

The highlight of its calendar is the Cheltenham Festival, which draws in punters from around the world. Running for four days in March, the Festival boasts an astounding 12 Grade 1 races, with millions of dollars gambled on their outcomes – both online and on track - each and every year.

Deservedly famed for being the most popular National Hunt meeting in the world and the absolute pinnacle of the jumps racing sphere, the Cheltenham Festival showcases the most talented equine athletes and mightiest champions you could ever be lucky enough to see. Pay it a visit to view them in the flesh and your heart will belong to horse racing forevermore.

Santa Anita

Travel across the pond to America, and it’s the Santa Anita racetrack that should be the first stop on your visit. Located in Arcadia, it’s often referred to as the most beautiful course in the world, thanks to the magnificent backdrop of the San Gabriel mountains behind it.

However, tear your eyes from the stunning scenery for a moment, and you’ll see some seriously amazing sights on track too. Hosting both the Santa Anita Derby and the Santa Anita Handicap, it offers some phenomenal racing for enthusiasts of the sport to enjoy.

With a 26,000 seat Art Deco grandstand and a one-mile dirt track, the course has played host to a record nine Breeders’ Cups, and has contributed much to the sport as a whole. The very first to use electronic starting gates, finish line cameras, and electronic timers, it has deservedly earned a place in the horse racing hall of fame.

Aintree

Home to the world-renowned Grand National, Aintree is also worth a visit should you ever find yourself in Liverpool, England. Opened in 1829, this iconic track guarantees the most dramatic on course action, thanks to famous steeplechase obstacles including Becher’s Brook, Canal Turn and The Chair.

With almost 190 years of history to draw on, it's little surprise that Aintree has played host to some of the most legendary races of all time, with the most notorious of these being the 1928 Grand National. Proof of just how great an ask it is for its equine competitors to even finish here, the infamous race began with 42 horses, and finished with only two.

Flemington

Should you fancy journeying all the way to Australia, then Flemington also makes the cut. Located in Melbourne, it plays host to both the Melbourne Cup and the Victoria Derby, and has been entertaining racegoers with its on-track action since 1840.

Located next to the Maribyrnong River, this pear-shaped course is not only home to the richest two-mile handicap anywhere in the world, but is also an Australian National Heritage Site, has three separate grandstands, its own railway line, and capacity for over 120,000 fans.

Hosting 13 Grade 1 races in total, ranging from 1,000 metres to 3,200 metres, it’s a track that requires some serious staying power, making it an exceptionally demanding test of endurance. Proof of its popularity is best evidenced by increased attendance at other Australian tracks on Melbourne Cup race days, which many visit solely to partake in off-track betting.

Tokyo

Opened in 1933, the Tokyo Racecourse lacks the long and storied history of some of these tracks, but it’s still been around for enough time to have made its mark on the racing world. Located in Fuchu, its three most famous races are the Japan Cup, Japanese Derby, and Japanese Oaks, which all draw in huge crowds from across the globe.

Referred to by the Japanese as ‘The Racecourse of Racecourses’, Tokyo houses one of the largest video screens found anywhere in the world, and is able to host a whopping 223,000 horseracing fans at any one time. Boasting five grass courses, a dirt track, and a separate jump course, it holds eight individual Grade 1 races throughout the year, and is a fundamental part of the prestigious Asian Mile Challenge.

If you want to get a glimpse into the world of horse racing and see how it’s done outside of the west, there’s nowhere better to experience it.

Saratoga

Located in Saratoga Springs, USA, Saratoga is a racetrack that’s earned international renown. Opened in 1863, it plays host to a plethora of famous races, include the Travers Stakes, Alabama Stakes, and Whitney Handicap.

As one of the oldest sporting venues in America, Saratoga has a long and fascinating history, having survived everything from two World Wars through to anti-gambling legislation that threatened to shut it down forever.

In spite of this, it remains the most famous US racecourse outside of the Triple Crown contenders, and has seen some of the most brilliant equine athletes ever to have lived prove their worth on its nine-furlong dirt track. These include everyone from the inimitable Secretariat through to Gallant Fox, American Pharoah, and Man o’ War, who suffered his only defeat at Saratoga.

Article Posted on Tuesday 6th August 2019 @ 14.10

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