FOUR OF THE BEST: PRESTIGIOUS HORSE RACING EVENTS
The Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes became the most lucrative horse racing event in the world last year.
Gun Runner claimed the crown and, with it, the majority of the $16m prize money for his ownership group Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and Three Chimneys Farm.
The race was established in 2017 and surpassed its rivals to become the leading meet in the world in terms of the purse presented to the victor.
Arrogate won the inaugural Pegasus World Cup, having previously triumphed in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, notching the $12m purse.
The organisers of the race increased the prize fund for the 2018 meet but the 2019 race will see a decrease down to $9m as a result of the new Pegasus World Cup Turf event that has seen the pot shared between the two competitions.
The events at Gulfstream Park in Florida have the potential to become a leading fixture in the racing calendar. However, despite the riches on offer, they have some way to go to match the consistency of the following events for grandeur in the sport.
Dubai World Cup
The Dubai World Cup has regained its place as the sport’s most lucrative race. The World Cup was created in 1996 and has grown in popularity due to the economic boom in the United Arab Emirates over the last 20 years.
Meydan Racecourse hosts the race and it holds over 80,000 spectators, perennially selling out for the World Cup.
Many of the leading horses in the world now belong in yards owned by groups based out of the UAE, most notably Godolphin Racing. They have won the event seven times, including the 2018 race when Thunder Snow claimed the crown.
The wealth around the sport in the UAE has seen the purse rise significantly over the last 10 years, so much so that the last event was worth up to $10m for the World Cup alone.
In terms of viewing figures, on television, the 2018 meet had a reach of one billion spectators around the globe due to the race being broadcast in over 120 territories, according to reports.
The Dubai World Cup has reached a level where it has surpassed the Kentucky Derby, the Grand National and Royal Ascot Gold Cup for the biggest standalone gambling event in the sport.
Its popularity will increase as further resources flow into the sport in the UAE, although its limited racing calendar will still leave it behind the United Kingdom and the United States for the hold on the market.
Breeders’ Cup Classic
The Breeders’ Cup Classic has been the signature event for thoroughbred racing in the United States since its inception in 1984 for horses above the age of three.
The leading horses, trainers and jockeys compete in the event, which shifts around the major racing venues of the country.
The Churchill Downs, Santa Anita Racecourse, Del Mar Racecourse, Belmont Park and Keeneland have all hosted the prestigious event over the last 10 years.
The purse of the event currently stands at $6m and has been steady at that mark for the past three years, while the previous total of $5m stood for 10 years between 2005 and 2015.
The attendance figures tend to vary at the Classic due to the alterations in venue between years. However, last year 70,000 spectators were present at the Churchill Downs to watch Accelerate win the event.
Over $96m was handled during race day on Saturday in the nine events, which was a slight downturn for the same day in the 2017 campaign.
The Breeders’ Cup Classic will return to Santa Anita in 2019, which should see an upturn in spending due to the increase in spectators.
One area of concern regarding the Classic comes in the television viewing figures, which diminished by 20% from 2017 with an audience of only 1.6 million.
Compared to the Dubai World Cup along with the leading races in the United Kingdom, the Classic fails to match up for ratings on television.
Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe
The Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe is arguably the most prestigious race of them all, boasting an occasion of grandeur that cannot be matched by its rivals in the UAE and the States due to the history of the event.
The first race was held in 1920 and has been held annually in Paris even during the Second World War and the German occupation of France, with 1939 and 1940 being the exceptions.
It has been the pinnacle of the French racing season since its inception, while it has become equally important for trainers and owners from Europe and the Middle East.
Khalid Abdullah and John Gosden have combined to win the race for the past two seasons on the bounce with the outstanding filly Enable winning the event with Frankie Dettori in the saddle.
Abdullah and Dettori are etched into the history of the race, securing the most victories in the L’Arc’s tenure. Andre Fabre remains the most successful trainer, with seven triumphs, retaining one record for the host country.
The prize of €5m is the highest purse on the continent for a single race, dwarfing the Royal Ascot Gold Cup and the Grand National.
Despite the prestige of the race, the last event saw a slump in attendances as only 35,000 spectators were present at Longchamp. An increase in ticket prices was to blame but it will certainly be worth monitoring moving forward.
In the past, a crowd of 50,000 would have been expected. However, the newly-renovated Longchamp failed to attract the audience and changes will have to be made by race organisers to keep the atmosphere alive.
The United Kingdom remains the ancestral home of horse racing. Despite the improvements to racing quality and conditions along with the greater riches of abroad, the sport is firmly entrenched in society in the UK and Ireland, and will not be easily shifted.
The Grand National epitomises this embodiment due to the history and prestige of the race. Almost every household in Britain and Ireland will have a punt on the National and gather around television screens to watch the event.
It’s a tradition passed down the generations and, due to access on free-to-air television, it’s easily accessible – something not common among other sports in the country.
The lure of winning Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe is a special moment for all competitors but the National puts it into pale insignificance given how few horses have been able to win the event.
The purse of £1m does not stack up with the other events listed but the race provides immortality for the competitors to etch their place in the history of the 179-year-old meet alongside the greats of the past such as Red Rum.
Aintree Racecourse is notoriously sold-out and packed to the rafters, reaching its 70,000 capacity on the Saturday event, while television figures of last season’s race came in at 8.5m.
Given it competes with the Premier League and football matches across the country on the same day, it’s more than a satisfactory figure, especially in the modern day of media consumption.
Although the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Royal Ascot Gold Cup equally capture the attention of the racing world, no event makes it stand still more than the National and it will take something special to see it lose its status.Article written by 888sport