5 cities to visit if you love horse racing

With sporting events very much back on the agenda this summer – albeit in some cases, without the usual crowds – the excitement amongst fans is beginning to rise, and if you’re an avid follower of horse racing in particular then you may well be yearning for a related luxury getaway.

With travel restrictions for the coming months still up in the air and social distancing rules still in place, you might have to wait until next year to attend some of your favourite events in person – but that doesn’t mean you can’t start planning now. And, with some breath-taking cities to consider worldwide for horse racing lovers, there’s plenty of inspiration to make the summer of 2022 one to remember.

From the USA to Spain, these destinations offer plenty of action both on track and off, with a good dose of luxury appeal for good measure. And until you can make it to the races in real life, you can always check the results at – where you can quickly find out whether your number has come in.

Louisville, Kentucky

Churchill Downs in Louisville is home to the Kentucky Derby, one of the world’s leading horse racing events. Image credit: Jonathan Weiss/

Kentucky is known for being a haven for horse fans, and Louisville, located at its heart, is home to the famous and prestigious Kentucky Derby. Taking place in May each year, it attracts thousands of visitors from across the globe for a nail-biting event which generated millions in revenue.

Horse racing isn’t just a sport here – it’s a lifestyle, too, and aside from the big race itself you can visit any number of different working horse farms during your trip. At the Kentucky Horse Park, a farm, international equestrian competition venue and educational theme park in nearby Lexington,  the International Museum of the Horse and the American Saddlebred Museum offer a unique insight into the history of the horse and of the main event itself, while additional races happen throughout the year at Keeneland and the Red Mile.

Dubai, UAE

Meydan Racecourse in Dubai
The Meydan Racecourse features the longest grandstand in the world

Home to the iconic Meydan Racecourse, Dubai offers a thriving horse racing scene for avid followers of the sport and features the longest grandstand in the world, which extends over a mile in length. As you’d expect from just about anything in Dubai, the facilities here are about as luxurious as they come, with world-class cuisine and sweeping views over the course available from the lavish Meydan Hotel.

You’ll also find an intriguing horse racing museum in Meydan, which is well worth a visit. If you’re looking for the most opulent experience from your getaway, then there’s no better place.

Madrid, Spain

Madrid, Spain
The Gran Premio de Madrid is held in the spectacular Hipódromo de la Zarzuela

If you’re looking for somewhere a little closer to home, then Madrid, which is reachable in just an hour or two from the UK, could be just the ticket for your luxury horse racing getaway.

The Gran Premio de Madrid takes place in June of each year and is held in the spectacular Hipódromo de la Zarzuela. Here, horses aged three and above battle it out for the title in an impressive 2,500-metre long race, which takes place on the last Sunday in June of each year.

Off the track, there is no shortage of things to do in Madrid, and with its elegant boulevards and expansive, manicured parks, it’s a haven of European art. It also happens to be home to 16 Michelin-starred restaurants in total – making it the perfect place for foodies to spend a weekend.

Baden Baden, Germany

Baden Baden in Germany
Baden Baden is the home of three iconic racing festivals

Baden Baden in Germany is known for its lavish hotels and restaurants, and also happens to be the home of three iconic racing festivals which take place each year. Happening at the impressive Iffezheim racecourse in June, August and September, summer is the perfect time to visit to get your fix.

Dinner at the opulent Badener Club restaurant after the day’s events have wrapped up is a must and the perfect place to lift a champagne flute or two to the winner.

Saratoga Springs, New York

Saratoga Springs in New York
Saratoga Springs is steeped in rich horse-related history, dating back to 1847

The town of Saratoga Springs is steeped in rich horse-related history, which dates all the way back to 1847 where the very first meeting was held on a dirt track. It has come a long way since then, and today, what is now the oldest race track in the USA plays host to some of the most prestigious annual races in the world.

In July, visitors can take in iconic events including the Saratoga Stakes races and the ever-popular Million Travers Stakes, too – while off the track, the town’s picturesque landscapes, punctuated by breath-taking lakes, forests and springs, offers the perfect opportunity to relax and unwind after all the action.

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