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Horse racing’s most watched events

March 17, 2024

Horse racing is one of the UK’s most popular betting markets and welcomes hundreds of thousands of spectators to race tracks around the country every year.

Betting specialist Peter Addison explains that as well as regular UK meetings that punters can place wagers on with horse racing bookmakers, there are also prestigious meetings held around the world that offer massive prize pots and are watched by millions of race fans around the world.

In terms of viewing figures, the UK’s Grand National comes in first and is watched by an estimated 600 million people around the world.

The race is run every year in April at Aintree with 34 runners set to take part in the world-famous steeplechase in 2024 and around 80,000 spectators are expected to attend.

Across the Atlantic, American horse racing enthusiasts have the Kentucky Derby to look forward to. The race is run over 2,000 meters (1.25 miles) and is limited to 3-year-old horses and welcomes around 150,000 spectators to Churchill Downs every year.

A 20-horse field battles it out for a $3 million prize fund and takes place every Spring, with between 15 and 20 million fans watching around the world.

The Saudi Cup is the world’s most valuable race with a $30.5 million purse. The thoroughbred flat race takes part in Riyad and is a relatively new entry to the racing world having started in 2020.

30 broadcasters will now show the race over 150 territories, and just 4 weeks later race fans have the Dubai World Cup to look forward to.

Held at the United Arab Emirate’s Meydan Racecourse, the Dubai World Cup is a 10-furlong thoroughbred flat race with a prize purse of around $12 million.

2022 saw the race streamed on Twitter for the first time, with cruise lines and airlines also showing the event along with 40 broadcasters. This means the race has a potential viewing market of 1 billion, although viewing figures will be significantly less.

Australia’s Melbourne Cup is the country’s biggest horse race and is held at the Flemington Racecourse in front of over 80,000 spectators. Millions tune in around the world to enjoy the 3,200-metre race that dates back to 1861.

A prize purse of over $8 million is up for grabs for three-year-old horses and over and the race takes place in Autumn near the end of October or beginning of November.

The proud tradition of the Grand National and the thrilling race that has thrown up many surprises over the years ensures it stays at the top of the most-watched horse races in the world. But, with international racing events benefiting from significant investment and eye-watering prize pots, it is not unthinkable that the gap could start to close.

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