Cheltenham Festival 2020

How Horse Racing in the US Compares to the UK

Horse racing has always been a popular pursuit, no matter where you are based.

However, it’s always been really popular in Ireland, Dubai, and France. It’s also popular in the USA and the UK. 

For those who are linked with the industry, it’s more than just a job. It is a lifestyle and passion that usually lasts a lifetime. 

It seems that finding the perfect horse to bet on is something of an art form for fans. Horse racing brings out the best in people, which is evident when fans flock in their droves to significant events such as Aintree or the Grand National in great anticipation. 

So, what are the key differences between the UK and the US? It’s certainly not the passion the fans display for the sport, as an exciting and enjoyable experience is always guaranteed.

What are the Main Racing Events in the US and UK?

The most significant difference between horseracing between the UK and the US is the winnings on offer. In the US, these are quite sizable, whereas they are much more modest in the UK. By way of comparison, the most anyone could win in a British horse race would be around £561,300.

While this seems relatively high, in America, riders can actually win beyond $2 million, with winners of events such as the Breeders Cup even taking home as much as $5 million.

For other events, like the Pegasus Cup, winnings can be even higher, making it no surprise that fans usually flock to their favourite sportsbook before a race, and try their luck on a favorite.

The grade 1 race held in January 2017 had a prize fund of $12 million, officially marking it as the most valuable race in the world. A year later, this rose even more to $16 million before dropping back down to $4 million.

For the Breeders Cup, $30 million in prize funds was available this year. $6 million of this was allocated to the Breeders Cup Classic and $2 million to the Breeders Cup Mile. A lot of this is from nomination fees paid by breeders.

For the Kentucky Derby this year, the overall prize fund was $3 million, $1.86 million of this being the overall prize amount, with another $1 million being available for the Pacific Classic race. 

While the UK cannot match these impressive sums, some unique prizes are still offered. Perhaps one of the largest was for the Epsom Derby back in 2019, where the winner received £1.623 million, or just over $2 million. The lucky winner of the Derby, Anthony Van Dyck, took home £921,538, the equivalent of $1.15 million.

The prize for the Grand National stood at £561,000, equivalent to around $705 million. The Cheltenham Gold Cup winner had a chance to take home £351,687, which is just over $440,000. 

What are the Top Racing Events in the US and UK?

There’s the Kentucky Derby, where horses must compete in three different stakes to win the triple crown. The Belmont Stakes is another ancient race that started in 1867, eight years before the Kentucky Derby was established.

This is followed by the Breeders Cup, which came around in the late 20th century. It was 1984 when it existed in the US until eventually in 2007, it was made bigger thanks to a two-day meeting. 

From this point forward, it was known as the world championship for thoroughbred racehorses, with some enviable prize funds. It’s a significant event comparable to Cheltenham in the UK. 

Riders have to complete qualifying races before they’re eligible to race. It’s an excellent way to end the season and brings in racehorses from all corners of the globe.

In the UK, the main racing event is undoubtedly the Cheltenham Festival. The primary races are the Champion Hurdle and Queen Mother Chase. 

The event is hugely popular, as scores of crowds’ head to Cheltenham, providing healthy trade for the hotel industry. So much so they can be booked up months before the race.

The Grand National is another big race in the UK, attracting all different types of participants, not just hard-core racing fans. It’s considered one of the finest races around the world, attracting a lot of media attention. 

There’s no doubt that June is the busiest month for horse racing in the UK. Royal Ascot is undoubtedly the main event, which even the Queen herself attends. 

This is a race that the American’s simply cannot rival.

The Main Difference in Horse Racing Between the US and UK is Prize Funds

It’s true to say that horseracing is a popular pursuit in many different parts of the world, particularly the USA and the UK. 

If you wonder what the difference is between them, as we mentioned before, it’s the winnings which are offered. In the US, prize funds can be as high as $30 million. Whereas in the UK, they tend to be a couple of million tops. 

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