Every country in the world has a major horse race that it punts as an event of international importance. Some of these races have been around for over a century, and can attract large television audiences. However, only a handful of horseraces can genuinely claim to hold international importance.
Here's our pick of the five most important horse races in the world, and why they're worth taking note of.
1. The Cheltenham Gold Cup
While the Grand National has the largest viewership of any National Hunt race, the Cheltenham Gold Cup is arguably the most important race on the jumps calendar. Run as the feature race of the final day of the Cheltenham Festival, it features the highest quality middle distance jumps racehorses in National Hunt, and will frequently feature the highest rated racehorse in this category active in the UK, France and Ireland. A win in this race will be considered the pinnacle of a racehorse's career.
2. The Breeders Cup Classic
Although the Kentucky Derby is arguably the most important race of the American racing season, the fact that it primarily attracts entries from the Americas limits its importance in the international context. Instead the Breeders Cup Classic can lay claim to being the most important race in the United States. This race not only attracts top quality racehorses from the UK and other racing countries, but also sees them compete with top American talent over a dirt course.
3. The Melbourne Cup
The Melbourne Cup has always been a special event in Australia, however, over the last couple of decades it has evolved into a race of international importance. Today the Melbourne Cup is the unofficial stayers championship of international horseracing, attracting entries from all corners of the world to compete in a grueling 2 mile race over Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne.
4. The 2,000 Guineas
The majority of punters would regard the Epsom Derby as the most important flat race in the United Kingdom, however, the 2,000 Guineas may eclipse the Derby in importance due to its positioning in the racing season. As the first Classic of the year the 2,000 Guineas provides the first glimpse of the top three-year-old colts in the UK and Ireland, and the horses that place in this race will tend to dominate the other three-year-old and open age group races of the season.
5. The Prix de 'Arc de Triomphe
The Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe is to middle distance racing what the Melbourne Cup is to stayers racing. Originally a highlight of the French racing calendar, the 1 mile 4 furlong Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe now attracts top rated middle distance racehorses from the UK and further afield. Besides serving as Europe's unofficial middle distance championship, the Arc is arguably the most important middle distance turf race on the planet.
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