Horse Racing Culture Around the World…

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Horse in Costa Rica

When you think of horse racing, you think of the Kentucky Derby, particularly if you’re American. After all, is there a more quintessential horse race than the annual event held each spring in the Bluegrass State?

On the other hand, the world is a big place, and horse racing is not a uniquely American past time. Even if you never visit any of the fabulous horse race locations on this list, check out the Grand National horse races & winners to stay in on the action.

Melbourne Cup in Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne is an amazing city (the best in Australia, in my opinion), so even if there wasn’t a legendary horse race here, you’d be wise for traveling there. Of course, the Melbourne Cup has occurred annually since 1861, so you don’t have to worry about that. Horse racers (and horses!) from all over the world come to Melbourne each year to compete and also, to enjoy the city. There’s even a fashion competition, which awards prizes to the best-dressed male and female jockeys.

Prix de l’Arc de de Triomphe in Paris, France

Speaking of amazing cities, Paris doesn’t need an introduction on that front. Indeed, while it’s not difficult to imagine horse races occurring in Paris during the long, car-free portion of its history, it is quite remarkable that one could take place in the middle of the metropolis it is today. If you plan to be in Paris in October, considering attending this event, which occurs at the Seine-overlooking Longchamp Racecourse. Fun fact: The race is sponsored by the state of Qatar and the track includes a replica of a Qatari souk.

Dubai World Cup in Dubai, UAE

Dubai’s got everything—you can even ski there now!—so it probably isn’t a huge shock that there’s a relatively huge horse race here. Like the city itself, the Dubai World Cup enjoys a newfound notoriety: It only started in 1996; it’s enjoyed most of its fame since 2010, when a new race track opened adjacent to the luxurious Jumeirah Meydan Hotel. Novel or not, the Dubai World Cup is just as fabulous and decadent as the city for which it’s named.

Nakayama Grand Jump in Funabashi, Japan

When it comes to the Nakayama Grand Jump in Funabashi, Japan, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that, unlike so many things in Japan, Nakayama Grand Jump isn’t particularly weird. It doesn’t feature riders (or horses!) in flamboyant costumes, or strange snack foods that dance when you pour soy sauce on them. The good news? Nakayama Grand Jump isn’t very crowded, which means that tickets are cheap and easy to come by. Better still, it’s very close to Narita Airport, which is Japan’s main international gateway.

Of course, even if you don’t visit any of these international horse races, you’re bound to come up a winner. Horse racing is a fun, exciting sport—the destination is simply a backdrop for something that’s always awesome! Have you ever been to a horse race location that isn’t on this list?

Robert Schrader
Robert Schrader is a travel writer and photographer who's been roaming the world independently since 2005, writing for publications such as "CNNGo" and "Shanghaiist" along the way. His blog, Leave Your Daily Hell, provides a mix of travel advice, destination guides and personal essays covering the more esoteric aspects of life as a traveler.
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