If you haven’t been to a horse racing event before, you’ll probably underestimate just how important the location is to the experience. Sure, most of the patrons will be concerned with how their selections fare in the races, but, as you will see below, some racecourses feel like living, breathing artworks.
Most Stunning Racecourses in the World
These are five of the most stunning racecourses on the planet:
For a country of its size, Ireland punches well above its weight in terms of breeding and racing horses. It’s got some incredible racecourses, including the historic Curragh course, which translates as “place of the running horse” in old Gaelic. However, there is nothing as spectacular as the beach course at Laytown, Co Meath. There isn’t much human input to the design here, and it’s a makeshift racecourse for some low-key events. Yet, Nature takes a hand at Laytown, with the fantastic backdrop of the Irish Sea marking out a natural track. They’ve been running races here since 1868, and it remains Europe’s only official beach race.
A, frankly, ridiculous amount of money was spent on creating Meydan Racecourse, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in March 2020. As you would expect with Dubai, it’s got a futuristic design (some Star Trek scenes were filmed on the course), as well as plenty of extras like a five-star hotel and museum. The site of the course is massive, measuring over 7 million square metres, dotted with stunning buildings and artworks. A perfect racecourse, too, which hosts the ultra-prestigious Dubai World Cup each year.
When you consider racing as the sport of kings, then one racecourse springs to mind before all others – Ascot; after all, it’s just a few miles from Windsor Castle, and it has always enjoyed a kind of patronage from the Royal Family. The course is also the site of one of the most incredible feats in racing – Frankie Dettori’s haul of seven wins from seven races in one day. The accumulative odds of that victory, which is celebrated in the Frankie Dettori slots at Mansion, were almost incalculable, but it’s only one small part of Ascot’s storied history. The course’s history goes all the way back to the early 1700s, with Queen Anne credited as the founder. A substantial redevelopment in 2004 saw the course add a new grandstand and some other modern additions, but the whole site drips in history.
Like Laytown, Longchamp lets Mother Nature do most of the hard work. Set a the enchanting trees of the Bois de Boulange, and with the river Seine hugging the outskirts of the site, it’s hard to believe you are less than 10km away from the centre of Paris. Like Ascot, Longchamp is France’s racecourse supreme and is steeped in history. Longchamp also got a recent makeover, with some funky buildings and stands designed by master architect, Dominque Perrault. But if you really want to know how stunning Longchamp is, then check out the some of the paintings of the course by Edgar Degas or Edouard Manet.
St Moritz, Switzerland
Finally, finishing with a racecourse that dazzles for a few weeks of the year – St Moritz. You might recognise the name as being one of Switzerland’s top ski resorts, but for a few Sundays each February racing is a held on a frozen lake. The vista of the mountains (Engadin) in the background, the contrast of chestnut and blue roan horses against the snow, everything combines to make these events look like something out of a Hans Christian Andersen tale.
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