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December 15, 2023

The world’s most prestigious horse racing meetings

Horse racing at the elite level is not just about star quality on the track, it is also about the prestige and pageantry of attending a premier global sporting event.

Attending one of the highest-profile race meetings in the world, which are staged either on a single day or across multiple days, is a great way to experience a sense of style and luxury that is not often seen in other sports such as football.

While there may not be a specific index to rank horse racing meetings in terms of prestige, arguably the favourite for such a title would be Royal Ascot.

Royal Ascot’s pageantry and tradition

Spread over five days in the middle of June, Royal Ascot is renowned for its sense of occasion and the build-up and anticipation for the meeting is months in the making. When you bet on horse racing at Royal Ascot, the betting markets will also have been available months in advance, with the 2024 Commonwealth Cup, for example, which has Breeders’ Cup winner Big Evs as a 10/1 shot, already priced up.

There are a host of top-class races run through the week and the meeting regularly attracts horses from the likes of America and Australia, such is the appeal of having a runner at Royal Ascot and being in attendance as an owner.

Each day of the meeting also starts with the Royal Procession when the reigning monarch and family members and guests parade down the track in horse-drawn carriages. It is an event that is arguably unparalleled in the sporting world. Allied to the royal presence, Royal Ascot offers the chance to dig out the top hat and tails to really make it a memorable and stylish occasion.

The United Kingdom has other high-profile meetings, such as the Cheltenham Festival, Grand National and Epsom Derby, but they struggle to hold a candle to Royal Ascot regarding prestige.

The most prestigious horse racing meeting in the United States is the Kentucky Derby. The Breeders’ Cup may be the meeting that boasts a higher overall quality in terms of the actual horse racing, but it is the Kentucky Derby that captures the public’s attention.

Known as ‘The Run for the Roses’, the race is staged at Churchill Downs in Louisville and is the first leg of the Triple Crown. It is a day packed with tradition and is the most-attended horse racing meeting in America, with a record crowd of over 170,000 filing through the doors in 2015.

The race that stops a nation

For a sense of tradition and prestige, the Melbourne Cup, at Flemington Racecourse in Australia, rivals the Kentucky Derby.

Billed as ‘the race that stops a nation’, the Melbourne Cup is held on the first Tuesday of November each year, and regularly attracts crowds of over 100,000. There is a premium placed on fashion and the ‘Fashions on the Field’ aspect of the day offers prizes to the best-dressed man and woman.

Dubai and Hong Kong also stage high-profile meetings, but they don’t possess quite the same prestige as Royal Ascot or Kentucky Derby. These should be on the bucket lists of anyone wanting to experience a stylish sporting event.

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