The World’s Greatest Flat Races
There’s nothing quite like the thrill of watching the world’s fastest horses thundering across the turf. If you love racing then you will want to see the biggest races this year. Happily, as flat racing takes place across the globe, there are significant events throughout the year. Here’s the world’s greatest races and some of the dates to mark in your diary for 2018:
Pegasus World Cup
January 2, Gulfstream Park, Florida
This is the world’s richest horse race and there’s an incredible prize of $16 million on offer. Each of 12 owners puts $1 million in the pot which the race organiser, Stronach Group, then tops up. It’s a 9-furlong race over dirt and is open to horses which are at least 4 years-old.
Dubai World Cup
March 31, Meydan, Dubai
This was the world's richest horse race until the Pegasus World Cup overtook it. The winner receives $10 million and the total prize pot is $30 million. It is also the biggest sporting and social occasion in Dubai. The horses run the race on dirt over 2,000 meters (roughly 10 furlongs).
May 4, Churchill Downs
A US classic, this race is known as "The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports" and "The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports". The winner receives a blanket of flowers and the race has taken place every year since 1875. It is the first leg of the US "Triple Crown" which also includes the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.
May 5, Newmarket, England
A Group 1 race open to three-year-old thoroughbred colts and fillies, the 2,000 Guineas is run over one mile on turf. It is a historic race which is not to be missed.
May 6, Newmarket, England
A one-mile Classic for three-year-old fillies run over turf, the 1,000 guineas is held on Newmarket's straight Rowley Mile. It was first staged in 1814.
June 1, Epsom, England
Another race for three-year-old fillies only, the Oaks is run over a distance of 1 mile, 4 furlongs and 6 yards and over turf. The race began in 1779 and so predates the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas.
June 2, Epsom, England
Britain's richest horse race, The Derby was first run in 1780. It has given its name to many races around the world. The race is over one mile, four furlongs, six yards.
June 30, The Curragh, County Kildare, Ireland
Ireland's equivalent of The Derby takes place three weeks later. The race is open to three-year-old thoroughbred colts and fillies and covers a distance of 1 mile and 4 furlongs on turf.
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes
July 28, Ascot, England
Britain's most prestigious open-age Flat race is the "King George" and some of the sport’s biggest stars have won this race. The race covers a distance of 1 mile and 4 furlongs and the winners often go to race in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
September 1, Doncaster, England
First run in 1776, The St. Ledger is the oldest of Britain's five classic races. The race is open to three-year-old thoroughbred colts and fillies and covers a distance of 1 mile, 6 furlongs and 115 yards.
Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe
October 7, Longchamp, Paris, France
Europe's most prestigious and richest horse race, "The Arc" covers a distance of 2,400 meters (about 1½ miles). The race returns to Longchamp this year having taken place at Chantilly for two years whilst Longchamp was undergoing refurbishment.
Breeders’ Cup Classic
November 3, Churchill Downs, Kentucky, USA
The Breeders' Cup Classic brings an end to the international thoroughbred flat season and boasts a purse of $6 million. The race is open to three-year-olds and older and covers a distance of 1 ¹⁄₄ miles on dirt.
November 6, Flemington, Australia
Known as the "Race that stops a nation," the Melbourne Cup is a huge event in Australia and has historically been a two-mile race for three-year-olds run over turf. Since Australia went metric, the distance run has actually been 3,200 metres.