Welcome to a new post here at zoelouisesmithx.com. Today’s post is a little different for me, but I was inspired this week on Twitter when I seen photos of racecourses around the world that look absolutely stunning, so I wanted to create a post where I look at some of the most beautiful racecourses I could find and any information I could also find. So in no particular order, here are, in my opinion, 10 of the most beautiful racecourses in the world.
Parx Racing at Parx Casino
Based in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, USA, Parx Racing was formally known as Philadelphia Park. It opened as the Keystone Racetrack on November 4th, 1974 and was purchased by International Thoroughbred Breeders on December 28th 1984 for around $40,000,000, they then changed the name as well as the look of the track. Whilst International Thoroughbred Breeders owned the course, they began to put major improvements in place, including the construction of a turf course. In December 1990, Greenwood Racing Inc brought Philadelphia Park.
On December 18th 2006 a temporary casino opened on the first and third floor of the racetrack. 3 years later on Decemeber 18th 2009, a standalone casino opened. In 2010, the name was changed from Philadelphia Park to Parx Racing.
Based in Flemington, Victoria, Australia, Flemington Racecourse opened in March 1840 known as the Melbourne Racecourse, by the late 1850’s, the name Flemington was more commonly used after Flemington in Morayshire, Scotland. This was because the approach road from Melbourne crossed Moonee Ponds Creek and passed through a property owned by James Watson, he named the property after his wife Elizabeth’s hometown.
In 1840, the land was acquired from the Lang brothers and regarded as Crown Land by the government. In 1848, the Governor of New South Wales formally ordered that the site of 352 acres would be considered a public racecourse and he appointed six men as trustees of the area. In 1871, the government passed a Victoria Racing Club Act, which made the club the new trustees of the racecourse. In August 2006, Victoria Racing Club became Victoria Racing Club Limited, meaning the club is now governed by a board of directors who are elected by members of the club.
Flemington Racecourse is famously the home of the Melbourne Cup since 1861 where it was ran in front of just 4000 people, a vast difference from the 100,000 people who attended in 1880, which was a phenomenal amount at the time as the population of Melbourne at the time was only 290,000.
The Melbourne Cup is very popular with British and Irish trainers and jockeys with the likes of Ryan Moore, Joseph O’Brien, Charlie Appleby having won the race in previous years.
Based in Chantilly, Oise, France, Chantilly Racecourse opened on May 15th 1834. In 1879, the main grandstand, which still exists today, was built by famed architect Honoré. Chantilly Racecourse was built in connection to the already existing Grandes Écuries (Great Stables) which were built by estate owner Louis Henri, Duc e Bourbon, Prince of Condé in 1719. Designed by the architext Jean Aubert, the stables are 186 meters long and considered the most beautiful in the world.
In 1886, the Duc d’Aumale donated the racecourse to the Institut de France. In 1982, the Living Museum of the Horse was created as part of the stables. In July 2006, the museum was acquired by the Foundation for the Safe-keeping and Development of the Chantilly Domain, presided over by the Aga Khan IV.
Chantilly Racecourse is managed by France Galop and is the home to the Prix du Jockey Club since 1843, Prix de Diane Longines since 1843 and the Prix Jean Prat since 1858. In 2016 and 2017, Chantilly hosted the Qata Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe weekend whilst Longchamp was being reconstructed.
Based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Meydan Racecourse opened on March 27th 2010, replacing Nad Al Sheba Racecourse which formally occupied the same site. The Grandstand is over 1 mile in length and can accommodate over 60,000 spectators. The racecourse also includes The Meydan which is the worlds first five-star trackside hotel, with 285 rooms, restaurants, a racing museum, a gallery, nine-hole golf course and 72 corporate suits.
The racecourse has hosted concerts by Lady Gaga, Elton John, Kylie Minogue, Janet Jackson, Sia, Toni Braxton, Seal, Jennifer Lopez and more. The interior of the track was also used as a filming location for Star Trek Beyond.
But more importantly, Meydan Racecourse is the home the Dubai World Cup which has seen the likes of Silvestre de Sousa and William Buick, amongst others win the race.
White Turf Racing Association, St Moritz
Saint Moritz is an upmarket ski resort primarily known for its world-class winter sports. However on 3 days a year, in February, they hold the White Turf event where horses and jockeys compete on a frozen lake with the Engadine Mountains hovering over them.
Each year, this event attracts more than 35,000 spectators. Not only for the gallop and trotting races but also the fan favourite skijöring, where skiers are pulled behind unsaddled horses around a 2,700 meter icy track
Santa Anita Park
Based in Arcadia, California, USA, Santa Anita Racecourse opened on December 25th 1934. In 1907, Elias J. Baldwin opened the original Santa Anita Park Racetrack slightly east of the current location of Arcadia Park. In 1933, the legalisation of pari-mutuel gambling (of which I understand is essentially tote/placed betting) inspired San Francisco dentist Dr. Charles H Strub and movie mogul Hal Roach to create what we now know as Santa Anita Park in it’s current location at the foot of San Gabriel Mountains.
As of 2019, Santa Anita Park has held the Breeders Cup a record breaking 10 times.
Based in Ascot, Berkshire, England, Ascot Racecourse opened on August 11th 1711 by Queen Anne and is located approximately 6 miles from Windsor Castle. Ascot holds 13 of Britain’s 36 annual Flat Group 1 races and 3 Grade 1 Jumps races. Approximately 600,000 people visit Ascot Racecourse per year.
In 2004, Ascot Racecourse was closed to a £220 million redevelopment. This is the single biggest investment in British Racing. It was then reopened on June 20th 2006 by Queen Elizabeth II.
Ascot Racecourse is famously the home of Royal Ascot, which includes races such as the Queen Anne Stakes, Gold Cup, King Edward VII Stakes and many more.
Happy Valley Racecourse
Based in Wan Chai District, Hong Kong, Happy Valley Racecourse opened in 1845 to provide horse racing for British people in Hong Kong. This area was previously swampland but the only flat ground that the Hong Kong Government deemed suitable, so they prohibited rice growing in the surrounding area. The first race was ran in December 1846.
Sadly, one of the things Happy Valley is known for is when on February 26th 1918 a temporary grandstand collapsed causing a fire which killed at least 590 people in attendance.
Happy Valley Racecourse currently has seven storey stands and holds around 55,000 people, the inner field is used for football, hockey and rugby.
Based on the beach at Laytown, County Meath, Ireland, Laytown Racecourse is the only racing event run on a beach under the Rules of Racing, the first race started in 1868. Racing takes place once a year, in September.
Many top Irish jockeys have ridden winners at Laytown Racecourse, including Ruby Walsh, Colin Keane, Pat Smullen, Joseph O’Brien and Declan McDonogh. Amateur jockeys including Nina Carberry, Patrick Mullins, Jamie Codd, Katie Walsh and Derek O’Connor have also had winners at Laytown Racecourse.
Last, but not least, it is of course, Cheltenham Racecourse. As a jumps fan based in England, is there anywhere better to go? Cheltenham Racecourse is ased in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. In 1815, the first organised flat race meeting took place on Nottingham Hill, the first races on Cleeve Hill took place in 1818. Over the next decade, the popularity of horse racing soared, with crowds of 30,000 visiting the racecourse for its annual two day July meeting which featured the Gold Cup, a 3 mile flat race.
In 1830, the meeting was disrupted by the congregation of Cheltenham’s Parish Priest Reverend Fancis Close who had spent the previous 12 months preaching the evils of horse racing. In 1831, the grandstand was burnt to the ground. To overcome the violence, the racecourse moved to it’s current venue of Prestbury Park.
Cheltenham Racecourse is most famously known as the home of the Cheltenham Festival. Four days of racing which takes place in March each year and includes some of the biggest races in British racing including multiple Grade 1 races such as the Arkle Challenge Trophy, Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Stayers’ Hurdle, Ryanair Chase, Triumph Hurdle, Cheltenham Gold Cup and many many more.
In 2015, Cheltenham Racecourse opened the £45 million Princess Royal Stand with a capacity of 6,500. This completed the redevelopment of the racecourse.
So there we have it, in my opinion, 10 of the most beautiful racecourses in the world. Whilst doing my research, I can see there are literally so many incredible tracks and I found it very hard to choose just 10, so many I can do another in the future of different courses. If you have any you think I have missed do send them to me on Twitter so I can add them to a list to potentially cover in the future.
This was a very different post for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed researching these and I hope you all enjoyed it too! I shall see you all in my next post!