Top 10 International Racing Events 2018

Now halfway through January, here we have our guide to the best racing events for 2018 from around the globe. These are all definitely ones to tick off the bucket list!

1. Sun Met (27th January 2018)

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There’s no better place to escape to from a dreary UK at the end of January than at one of South Africa’s most renowned social, fashion and sporting events, The Sun Met. Since the first official running of The Metropolitan Mile (The Met) in 1883, the event has been a highlight of the South African social calendar.

Every year, on the last Saturday in January, Africa’s richest horse race draws crowds of over 50,000 and South Africa’s best horses to the Kenilworth Racecourse. This year will see the most recognisable athlete in the world, Usain Bolt attend the event in his newly appointed capacity as GH Mumm’s “chief entertainment officer”.

Additionally, situated just outside of Cape Town, there is plenty to see and do, from the busy waterfront and beaches to the mountains, forests and vineyards.

More information on the Sun Met and to view our available packages for 2019, click here.

2. Dubai World Cup (31st March 2018)

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The Dubai World Cup is one of the world’s greatest sporting events and a definite must for any racing aficionado. On offer will be the greatest racehorses on Earth competing for their share of the world’s richest raceday, culminating in the $10 million Dubai World Cup, won in 2017 by Arrogate. What's more, when you book with Racing Breaks, you'll get to meet and greet Racing Breaks ambassadors Jim Crowley and 3 time Dubai World Cup winning jockey, Frankie Dettori!

The World Cup event concludes with a live concert from an international superstar and a spectacular fireworks display, rounding off the ultimate mix of sport and entertainment.

This event appeals to far more than just racing fans however, with endless activities to keep you occupied when not at the futuristic Meydan Racetrack, ranging from the duty free shopping opportunities to desert safaris and waterparks!

More information on the Dubai World Cup can be found here or to view our available packages, click here.

3. Punchestown Festival (24th April - 28th April 2018)


The Punchestown Festival in April is considered the grand finale of the National Hunt season with top class horses, trainers and jockeys from both sides of the Irish Sea converging on the Kildare venue to gain bragging rights which can be held until the season resumes in proper in the Autumn. Across the festival, there are 12 Grade 1 contests as well as the historic La Touche Cross Country taking place.

The combination of high quality racing, fashion and live entertainment helps all racegoers to have a excellent time thanks to the unique Punchestown Festival atmosphere.

More information on the Punchestown Festival and our available packages can be found here.

4. Kentucky Derby (May 5th 2018)

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The Kentucky Derby Festival is an annual festival held in Louisville, Kentucky for the two weeks preceding the 1st Saturday in May, the day of the Kentucky Derby itself. There are few American sporting events with the history and popularity of the Kentucky Derby and the race itself is frequently coined as ‘the most exciting two minutes in sports’ typically drawing crowds of over 150,000 people including Queen Elizabeth II in 2007!

Other notable features of the festival include, amongst others, the largest fireworks display in North America, The Great Balloon Race and The Great Steamboat Race, featuring the Belle of Louisville.

More information on the Kentucky Derby and our available packages can be found here.

5. Palio di Siena (2nd July & 16 August 2018)

Perhaps Italy’s most famous annual sporting event has been held almost without interruption since 1644 drawing crowds of over 40,000 people. Horses and jockeys run three laps around the famous ‘Piazza de Campo’ of Siena, Tuscany on a temporary sand surface with the race normally lasting around 75 seconds. With nail biting corners and high speeds, there is a much greater risk of riders being unseated. However, an unmounted horse is still able to cross the line first and win.

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The Palio di Siena is more than a simple horse race. It is the culmination of ongoing rivalry and competition between the contrade. The lead-up and the day of the race are invested with passion and pride. Formal and informal rituals take place as the day proceeds, with each contrada navigating a strategy of horsemanship, alliances and animosities.

More information on the Palio di Siena can be found here or to view our available packages, click here.

6. Irish Champions Weekend - Leopardstown (15th September 2018)

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If turf racing is your passion, the Irish Champions weekend is a must, with a particular focus on Day 1 at Leopardstown. The world’s top thoroughbreds will compete across an 8 race card including the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes, the highest-rated turf race in the world, won in 2017 by Decorated Knight trained by Roger Charlton.

Alongside top quality racing is a programme of events including the Longines Prize for Elegance and the Moët & Chandon Champion Hat competitions. Enjoy one of the best days racing in the world along with elegant fashion, and off-track entertainment including music, gourmet food and beverages.

Please enquire here for more information on the Irish Champions Weekend and our available packages.

7. Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (7th October 2018)

With refurbishment now complete, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe will return to the re-christened ParisLonghamp following a two year break at Chantilly. The new 22,000 capacity, four-storey grandstand will be the highlight of 2 years of works and will offer 360 degree panoramic views of the city of Paris!

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Popularly referred to as the "Arc", it is Europe's most prestigious horse race which anchors the biggest weekend of racing in France. More than 200 horses will compete in 16 races worth 9.4 million euros in prize money on Saturday and Sunday, and attending is more affordable than you might think!

More information on the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe can be found here or to view our available packages, click here.

8. Velka Pardubicka

Considered to be the toughest steeplechase in continental Europe, 20 brave horses and riders take on 31 obstacles and four and a quarter miles in what is dubbed the Czech Grand National. It is staged across ploughed fields and huge hedges whilst the Taxis Ditch (the fourth fence) is the most famous of the obstacles as a ditch of four metres in length, which is a metre deep, with a hedge measuring just over a metre and a half.

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The racecourse is located approximately one hour from Prague so is easily accessible for a day trip whilst spending a few days in Czech Republic's capital city.

More information on the Velka Pardubicka and our available packages can be found here.

9. Breeders Cup (2nd - 3rd February 2018)

One of horseracing’s most prestigious international events that has evolved into a two-day, $28 million extravaganza attracting the best horses, trainers and owners from across the globe. Every sport has a definitive year-ending event to crown its champions. In thoroughbred racing,  the Breeders’ Cup World Championships is the culmination of the horse racing season and the $6 million Breeders Cup Classic is considered the defining event of the international racing season. Indeed, winning the Classic is often going the determining factor in the race to be Horse of the Year.

This year, the Breeders Cup will be returning to Churchill Downs in Kentucky, one of the world’s most iconic and recognised tracks following a seven year absence. It was first hosted at Churchill Downs in 1988, and the 2018 event will mark its’ ninth appearance at the track. An event not to be missed!

More information on the Breeders Cup and to view our available packages can be found here.

10. Melbourne Cup (3rd November - 10th November 2018)

The Melbourne Cup held as part of the Melbourne Racing Carnival is Australia’s most prestigious annual thoroughbred horse race. It is the world’s richest ‘two-mile’ handicap and is known in Australia as “The race that stops a nation”.

The Carnival itself is considered the ultimate experience for lovers of world-class racing, glamour and fashion and is spread across four days, with a varying level of formality and differing atmospheres.

More information on the Melbourne Cup and to view our available packages can be found here.

Sam HitchmoughComment