Richest Horse Races in the World
Home  »     »   The 10 richest horse racing events in the world

The 10 richest horse racing events in the world

| 05.01.2019

Horse racing is big business around the globe. From the Dubai World Cup in the United Arab Emirates to the Breeders’ Cup Classic in the United States, some of the world’s most renowned races carry enormous prizes.

Britain has its fair share of big pots too – not least the Grand National and the Cheltenham Gold Cup. You can check out horse racing odds for these events and more on our Sportsbook.

But neither make our list of the top 10 of the biggest races in terms of prize money from around the world, which begins in Australia and ends in the UAE.

The Everest

Location: Sydney, Australia

Prize Money: £10.35m

Date: 2nd Saturday in October

everest sydney race
Also known as the richest race on turf, The Everest carries a total prize purse of £10.35m and is run at Royal Randwick every year during the Sydney Spring Carnival.

It is a weight-for-age contest which means that horses entered into the race must carry a weight corresponding to their age.

Entries for the race are highly sought after and have to be purchased in advance at a cost of £477,840.

There are 12 slots available, with slot holders able to race, lease, contract or share their slot once purchased.

Though attracting global interest, it has not been without criticism. The 2017 running was marred by controversy after organisers displayed the slot draw for the race on the Sydney Opera House.

Indeed, the 7-furlong contest doesn’t carry the same prestige as some of Australia’s other races such as the Melbourne Cup. That won’t matter to Peter and Paul Snowden, though.

The pair have trained Redzel to two successive wins in the race. They look set to come back for a third crack at the huge jackpot in 2019.

British and Irish trainers also take interest in the race. Aidan O’Brien sent US Navy Flag down under to compete for the prize in 2018.

Pegasus World Cup

Location: Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida

Prize Money: £7.89m

Date: Mid to late January

Pegasus World Cup in Florida
Up until recently, the Pegasus World Cup was the richest race on the planet. But a change in the event’s format means the race is now only worth £7.18m, compared to £12.76m in 2018.

That’s because £5.58m has now been allotted by the race’s organisers to the Pegasus World Cup Turf Race. This was formerly known as the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap.

Nevertheless, the Pegasus World Cup is still going strong since its inception at Gulfstream Park in Florida in 2017.

Much like The Everest, the World Cup requires shareholders to pay a £797,600 fee to purchase a position in the starting stall for an unspecified horse.

This gate can then be used, leased, contracted out or sold as the shareholder sees fit.

Such is the race’s value; it has already attracted the cream of the crop from dirt racing around the world. Arrogate won the race in 2017 before Gun Runner took the spoils in 2018.

Accelerate is the favourite for the 2019 edition with the American-trained domination of the race expected to continue.

The Dubai World Cup

Location: Dubai, UAE

Prize Money: £7.96m

Date: Last Saturday in March

Dubai World Cup Meydan Racecourse at night
Middle Eastern interest in racing is strong. So it’s no surprise that Darley Stud and Godolphin Racing owner Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum created the Dubai World Cup in 1996.

The 10-furlong dirt contest is the centrepiece of Dubai World Cup Night, which is the richest single day of thoroughbred racing in the world.

The entire night carries a prize purse of £21.7m. £7.96m of that is distributed to Dubai World Cup runners.

Unsurprisingly Godolphin is the leading owner in the race with seven wins. Trainer Saeed bin Surror won the 2018 contest with Thunder Snow.

Several important historical racehorses have won the event too. They include Dubai Millennium in 2000 and California Chrome and Arrogate in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

Thunder Snow took the honours in 2018 and is favourite to do so again in 2019.

Meydan Racecourse itself has a capacity to hold over 60,000 spectators. And it’s not short of a star name or two on World Cup Night either.

Jennifer Lopez, Kylie Minogue and Janet Jackson are just three of the celebrities to have performed at the race since 2012.

Once racegoers are finished with the racing, UAE also offers plenty of attractions for tourists, including the Burj Khalifa and the Burj Al Arab – Jumeirah towers.

The Breeders’ Cup Classic

Location: North America

Prize Money: £4.79m

Date: Late October/Early November

The Breeders’ Cup Classic North America Race
There’s no fixed location for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The race moves around North America depending on which racecourse hosts the Breeders’ Cup each year.

Churchill Downs, Del Mar, Keeneland and Santa Anita have all hosted the race in the last 10 years.

The latter of the quartet is located in Arcadia, California, and is the chosen venue for the race in 2019. In 2020 it will return to Keeneland and Kentucky before switching to Del Mar, also in California, in 2021.

What doesn’t change, though, is the enormous prize and prestige that goes alongside winning the 1¼-mile dirt contest.

The Grade 1 race is generally considered to be the most prestigious thoroughbred horse race in the United States and regularly attracts entrants from around the globe.

Its prominence has led it to become known as the fourth leg of the infamous Triple Crown.

The Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes are the other three. American Pharoah is the only horse to complete the set and win all four.

Despite all of that, it is no longer the richest race in the world as it once was.

Japanese Derby

Location: Tokyo, Japan

Prize Money: £4.5m

Date: May/June

Japanese Derby Tokyo Japan Racecourse
First run in 1932, the Japanese Derby is the Japanese equivalent of the Epsom Derby and forms the second-leg of the Japanese Triple Crown.

It is preceded by the Satsuki Sho and the Kikuka Sho. Only seven horses have ever completed the treble, with now-super sire Deep Impact one of the most recent in 2005.

His class as a sire showed in the last iteration of the race as his colt Wagnerian took the famous 1-mile 4-furlong contest for three-year-old colts and fillies from Epoca D’Oro by just under a length.

With a purse of £4.5m, it is now one of the richest races in the world and comfortably the richest race in Asia.

Part of its charm lies in the crowd. The venue known as the racecourse of racecourses in Japan regularly attracts a raucous attendance of over 100,000 people, most of whom contribute to the atmosphere by standing.

Outside of raceday, there’s plenty to see and do in a city steeped in culture. From Senso-ji – Tokyo’s oldest temple – to the Imperial Palace and Mount Takao, the Japanese capital is a truly incredible city. It’s the perfect setting for such an iconic race.

Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe

Location: Paris, France

Prize Money: £3.98m

Date: First Sunday in October

Paris Longchamp Racecourse
Now the third richest turf race in the world, what the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe lacks in prize money, it more than makes up for in prestige.

In short, this is the race that the world’s top flat racing trainers all want to win.

Run yearly at the now-renovated Paris Longchamp, the race is open to horses aged three-years-old and above, although geldings are excluded.

British, Irish and French trainers all regularly target the race with their best charges. France has enjoyed plenty of home success through Andre Fabre and Criquette Head.

But more recently it’s been down to Britain and Ireland to lead the way. Aidan O’Brien has trained Dylan Thomas and Found to Arc success since 2017.

Nemesis John Gosden has won three of the last four outings and will return in 2019 with Enable looking for an unprecedented hat-trick in the event.

Should the filly achieve the feat over 1-mile 4-furlong, it would provide Ladbrokes ambassador Frankie Dettori with a record seventh win in the race, if he retains the ride.

If he does win again, then there’s no place to celebrate like Paris. The French capital has no end of high-class restaurants and wine bars.

There are incredible sights, too, such as the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe – after which the race is named.

The Dubai Turf

Location: Dubai, UAE

Prize Money: £3.98m

Date: Last Saturday in March

Dubai World Cup - Dubai Turf Race
Another race on Dubai World Cup Night, the Dubai Turf was first run in 1996 and has boasted plenty of European-trained winners down the years.

Newmarket-based trainer Saeed bin Suroor is responsible for six of those. His most recent success in the race came in 2018 with the impressive Benbatl.

Part of the prestige of the race also lies in its status as the second-leg of the Asian Mile Challenge.

The Challenge consists of four Grade 1 races – the Futurity Stakes, Dubai Duty Free Stakes, Champions Mile and the Yasuda Kinen.

Each race takes place approximately four weeks apart, making it extremely difficult for any horse to complete all four legs of the challenge.

As a result, any trainer who wins two of the four-legs is rewarded with a £795,600 bonus.

Bullish Luck was the first horse to accomplish the feat for trainer Tony Cruz by landing the Champions Mile and the Yasuda Kinen.

The Melbourne Cup

Location: Melbourne, Australia

Prize Money: £3.74m

Date: First Tuesday in November

Melbourne Cup Australia Race
Also known as the ‘race that stops a nation’, Melbourne Cup Day is a public holiday in Australia and one of the country’s most loved sporting events.

It takes place on the first Tuesday in November each year at Flemington Racecourse as part of the Melbourne Spring Carnival.

Any horse aged three-years-old and above is eligible to enter the contest which attracts entrants primarily from Australia, Britain and Ireland.

Despite its global appeal, English-trained winners of the most valuable 2-mile handicap in the world have been hard to come by.

Charlie Appleby and Cross Counter were the first to complete the feat in 2018, leading home an English-trained 1-2-3 which also included Marmelo and A Prince of Arran.

Although the race takes centre stage, the pageantry around it makes the event what it is. There are big prizes for the best-dressed man and woman, with flowery ensembles particularly encouraged.

It’s not just about the Melbourne Cup either. There are three other days of fantastic racing to enjoy during the Carnival, including Victoria Derby Day, Oaks Day and Stakes Day.

Over 380,000 people regularly attend the event in Australia’s second-most populous city. It also boasts the MCG, the Australian Open and the Australian Grand Prix among its sporting fame.

Arima Kinen

Location: Nakayama, Japan

Prize Money: £3.46m

Date: Late December

Nakayama Japan Arima Kinen Race
Japan’s Arima Kinen is a race unlike any other on our list. That’s because the majority of entrants are selected via a public ballot.

In total, 10 of the 16 in the final field are chosen by racing fans. Each of those horses must be a Japan Racing Association horse to be eligible.

2017 Japanese Derby winner Rey de Oro received the most votes in the 2018 ballot, with 110,293. That put him firmly ahead of second-place runner, Almond Eye, with 105,561 votes.

The other six horses are determined by the amount of prize money won and can be entered from all around the world.

Once that’s done, it’s down to business at the 165,676 capacity Nakayama Racecourse in Chiba Prefecture, which is located in the Greater Tokyo Area.

Plenty will hope to follow in the hoof-steps of legends including Deep Impact, Satono Diamond and dual-winners Grass Wonder and Symboli Kris S.

But the 1-mile 4½-furlong contest is difficult to win, even with the 2kg allowance for fillies, mares and three-year-old horses from the Southern Hemisphere.

Dubai Sheema Classic

Location: Dubai, UAE

Prize Money: £5.18m

Date: Last Saturday in March

Dubai Sheema Classic Race
The final Dubai World Cup Night race to make our list is the Sheema Classic. Run over 1 1½-miles, the contests attract the top runners and riders from around the world, but primarily from Europe.

Much like in the Turf, Godolphin have enjoyed their fair share of success in the race.

Saeed bin Suroor has trained two winners (1998 and 2003), while recent victories have come via John Gosden in 2017 and Charlie Appleby in 2018.

The latter saddled Hawkbill in a race which also saw William Buick move one behind Frankie Dettori as the second-most successful Sheema Classic jockey.

Like the two other World Cup competitors on our list, this race hasn’t always been run at Meydan.

It only switched to the course in 2010 having previously been run at Nad Al Sheba which ceased operating in 2007.

Meydan is now the premier racecourse in UAE with the grandstand able to hold 60,000 spectators and running over a mile in length.

The complex also contains hotels, restaurants, a museum, gallery and a nine-hole golf course.

(All prize money sourced from Wikipedia)



Nick Murphy

Nick is a graduate of the UEA where he doubled up as the sports editor of the student newspaper. He supports Dagenham & Redbridge and previously edited the matchday programme at Victoria Road. Darts and Horse Racing are among his other favourite sports.