|Aintree Racecourse, Merseyside|
Horse racing is one of the oldest spectator sports still carried out to this day and, as such, we’re really spoilt for choice when it comes to iconic racecourses to visit. But out of all the many courses that can be found in almost every global nation, which ones are still reigning supreme as the greatest in the world?
l’Hippodrome de Longchamp - France
Situated on the photogenic banks of the Seine River, the Longchamp racecourse in Paris is actually a 140-acre complex, which houses a number of tracks measuring between 1000 and 4000 meters in length. It was first opened in 1857 and although it’s currently undergoing renovations to update the original grandstands, it still remains the pinnacle of European racecourses. It is, of course, known for being the home of the most prestigious and richest race in this corner of the world - the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Santa Anita Park - California
The state of California has long been a place that has inspired people from all walks of life to live their dreams, so it's fitting that the U.S's best racecourse is located here. Although Santa Anita racecourse has hit the headlines recently for equine mortalities, it undoubtedly remains one of the most revered and renowned courses in the world. It’s also one of the most picturesque, thanks to the surrounding San Gabriel Mountains and its original Art Deco grandstand, which can accommodate 26000 spectators.
Aintree - United Kingdom The UK is home to some of the most prestigious racecourses in the history of the sport - Ascot, Cheltenham and Goodwood would all be worthy of inclusion on this list. However, there’s one track that really has come to define modern British horse racing - Aintree, home of the legendary Grand National. Situated near Liverpool, the Aintree racetrack is one of the oldest on this list having been built in 1829. Every year in April it welcomes the most fearless runners and riders from across Europe, as they test themselves against such iconic fences as Beecher’s Brook, The Chair and the Canal Turn.
|Meydan’s sprawling grandstand|
Meydan may be the new kid on the block, having replaced Dubai’s former racecourse Nad Al Sheba in 2010, but boy has it made an impact. With its mile-long grandstand, a five-star hotel and rooftop infinity pool, Meydan is heralding in a new and luxurious era for horse racing. For the past 9 years, it has hosted the Grade 1 Dubai World Cup - another of the world’s richest races - and this year the total prize money has been increased to an eye-watering $35 million, with the winner of the Cup itself set to pocket $7.2 million.
Flemington Racecourse - Australia
Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne has been in use since the city itself was just five years old and is the oldest racecourse in Australia, having been completed in 1840. The course itself has been revamped and renovated in recent years and is once again at its full grandeur from the days of the “race that stops a nation”, the world-famous Melbourne Cup.
Laytown Races - Ireland
This unique racecourse may not be a year-round venue like the others on this list, however, there's no doubt that Laytown Races has provided the sport with some truly memorable races in the 150 years that its been in use. Each year, this stretch of sand near Dublin is transformed into Europe’s only officially-recognised beach race. It attracts thousands of spectators and visitors every year who are keen to see top racehorses battling it out along the Irish coast, but within a matter of hours, the track disappears as the tide comes in and the sand dune grandstand is washed away.
Photo: Aintree: Paul
Meydan source: Yousif Al Mula