Most of us associate thoroughbred racing, "the Sport of Kings", with British sporting culture. This seems reasonable considering the United Kingdom is hosting more thoroughbred races on a regular basis and on a grander scale than most other nations. However, there are a plethora of international thoroughbred races which are just as thrilling as the events in the United Kingdom. If you want to learn more about these exciting international meetings and feature races, you've come to the right place.
Whether you would like to indulge yourself in the French racing scene with the marvelous Prix De L'Arc De Triomphe or you'd rather get down with the gritty action of the North American Breeders' Stakes, there's an international race for every taste. Check out the races rooted deeply in the culture of their home countries and you'll be amazed at how much-thoroughbred racing has truly become a "global sport of kings".
One of the most internationally famous race meetings in the world is the Breeders Cup in the USA. The meeting itself first came to pass in 1984 but the location alters from meeting to meeting. The prize money also varies from race to race but in 2016 the purse varied from $1 million to $6 million depending on the race, making them some of the most valued races in the world.
The culmination is the Breeders' Cup Classic which is the true six million dollar race. The race itself is run over one and a quarter miles on dirt with a left-handed bend. The top jockeys and riders tend to be very experienced at winning on turf. All the more remarkable then that Frankie Dettori rode the winner Raven's Pass in 2008.
The second biggest event is the Breeders' Cup Turf. This event is run over one and a half miles but British and European jockeys have been far more successful in this race than in the Classic. For example, Ryan Moore has ridden the winner of the classic no less than four times between 2008 and 2015, while Frankie Dettori has also ridden four winners. This makes the pair of them the two most successful jockeys in the history of the Breeders' Cup turf event.
Racegoers from all over the world gather for the Breeders' Cup and the track itself is a haven for famous sports stars, celebrities, and even movie stars. Irish horses have been really successful in the Breeders' Cup Turf event in recent years, with the 2015 winner Found being an Irish Filly.
Godolphin currently holds the record as being the most successful owner in Breeders' Cup history with almost $12 million. In total, Great Britain and Ireland have produced to this date, 41 total wins in Breeder's Cup events. Clearly, this race meeting (now held over two days) will continue to grow in size and could someday host the world's most expensive horse race.
The Dubai World Cup has been held every year since 1996 on dirt and run over 2000m. It boasts the largest purse in international horse racing at a staggering $10 million. The race itself is run at Group 1, but if you're looking to back a winner in this event then you had better take our advice first. So what vital clues can be garnered from the past stats and figures?
Firstly, we need to look at the surface because whether it's run on turf or dirt makes a big difference. The sharp left-handed track leaves any horse or jockey at a severe disadvantage that doesn’t have previous experience on this sort of surface.
The most consistent winners are the ones that are trained either in the USA or the UAE. This trend is where you should be focusing your attention. If you find any contender that isn't trained or hasn't been primarily trained in either of these two countries then you can oppose it comfortably. We have all-weather tracks in the UK but this sort of experience cannot be counted upon to be enough for the tough environment of dirt track racing.
Michael Stoute trained the only British trained winner in 1997 which was Singspiel.
Horses don't feel comfortable on strange surfaces and the dirt track won't feel comfortable to those horses that haven't experienced it before. As a rule, trainers know not to put a turf horse on dirt without proper training. However, the ten million dollar purse is a big incentive and some trainers have put ill-prepared horses into the Dubai World Cup and they have suffered accordingly.
There have been a few British horses that were foaled in the UK but these horses were quickly shipped to either the US or UAE and trained there in dirt track racing. The expert trainers on this surface know what type of horse and what type of physique is required. A horse needs strength and balance to handle the dirt track bends at racing speed.
The key factor to look out for at the Dubai World Cup is to stay clear of UK jockeys and trainers and go with dirt track specialists. The phrase "horses for courses" really couldn’t be any more apt than it is on dirt track racing. Some of the biggest purses in the world are run on this surface.