Racetrack aficionados know where to go to see the finest thoroughbreds galloping towards the finish line, with the biggest dates in horse racing circled on the calendars inside their minds. The more casual observer, however, is often less knowledgeable about the specifics of these huge fixtures. Attending at least one great horse racing event ought to be high up on your to-do list for the coming year, no matter how familiar you might be with this particular sport. Thanks to our racing calendar, you can be ready for the big festivals this season well in advance, turning 2017 into a year full of wonderful events that you’ll remember forever.
The Grand National – Aintree, UK
One of Britain’s major cultural attractions, the Grand National is a prestigious steeplechase race with a long and colorful history stretching as far back as 1839. Every eye in the UK (and many others across the world) turns towards television sets as 40 horses slip into the starting traps for this famous competition, with viewing figures reaching a whopping 600 million in recent years. An exhilarating experience, the Grand National invariably manages to spring several surprises as horses and jockeys tackle 16 enormous fences over four miles. The next Grand National is set to take place on April 8th 2017, and you can consult the Grand National Race Guide for lots of great information.
The Melbourne Cup – Melbourne, Australia
A fantastically popular event known for being the richest two-mile handicap on the entire planet, the Melbourne Cup has attracted international interest since its inaugural race in 1861. Competing horses are tasked with tackling just under 3,200 meters worth of track, with the prize fund topping 6.2 million Australian dollars in 2016. The next Melbourne Cup kicks off on November 7th, 2017 at Flemington Racecourse.
The Dubai World Cup – Dubai, UAE
The Dubai World Cup may not have the century’s worth of history that many of its fellow big boy races can brag about, but it certainly has the same renowned reputation nonetheless. Kicking off in 1996, this United Arab Emirates event is run over a ten-furlong dirt track at Meyden Racecourse, with a purse of $10 million up for grabs for the winner on March 25th, 2017.
The Kentucky Derby – Kentucky, US
As many as 150,000 people pack themselves into Churchill Downs Racecourse in Louisville for the Kentucky Derby – a raucous race that every horse owner in America dreams of winning. Advertised as the “most exciting two minutes in sport”, this dirt track event takes place over one-and-a-quarter miles with a myriad of prestigious guests in attendance. The 2017 Kentucky Derby is scheduled for May 5th and 6th 2017.
The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – Paris, France (Chantilly for 2017)
The Longchamp Racecourse in Paris is home to one of Europe’s greatest events in history – the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, or “The Arc” as it is affectionately known. Run on a turf-based track stretching over one-and-a-half miles, this competition is one that some trainers dedicate their whole lives to winning. The race is being temporarily relocated to Chantilly for 2017 (October 2nd) but will return to its roots in the French capital the following year.
The Breeders’ Cup – Various Locations, US
The Breeders’ Cup is an anomaly among the best horse racing events in the world, serving up a series of races that move between tracks around the US on an annual basis. Taking place on November 3rd and 4th at Del Mar Racecourse in California for 2017, this thoroughbred competition also boasts a mammoth prize purse, with every race worth a minimum of $1 million, and the Breeders’ Cup Classic (the pinnacle race) valued as high as $6 million.