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Friday 28 August 2020

7 of the World’s Wildest Racecourses

The traditional racecourse can sometimes look a touch tired, with the same old stands and backdrops leaving punters underwhelmed. 

For this reason and many more, here are some of the world wackiest and wildest racecourses.


This race harks back to the days of cowboys and Indians and is so treacherous that riders are required to wear not only crash helmets but flotation devices as well, seeing as part of the course involves hurtling across a river. 

The crucial point of the course is the dauntingly named Suicide Hill, down which horses have to gallop at full pace. 

This is not a race for the fainthearted nor those who would like to see animal welfare taken more seriously in horse racing. That said, it is certainly a spectacle to behold.

Watching racing down by the beach is something everyone should do once in their life.

Sanlucar de Barrameda and Laytown Races 

The differences between most racing tracks tend not to be that glaring, so sometimes it can be nice to go out of your comfort zone to watch a race that is altogether different. 

The annual beach races at Sanlucar de Barrameda in the Cadiz region of Spain provide just that, with thousands of onlookers turning out to watch from the dunes as stallions stampede across the sands and waves crash in the background. If it sounds dramatic that’s because it is. 

Beach racing is also a thing in Ireland, with the Laytown Races taking place on a beach not far from Dublin for the last 150 years. There are even odds available on the races that take place there just like the ones you would find for Cheltenham or the Grand National, with UK and Irish horse fans regularly using their handy free bets to back horses who love a bit of sea mist in their flowing manes.

The Mongols were doing glamping long before westerners appropriated the idea

Mongol Derby

If you thought the Gumball Rally and its propensity to send super cars racing through impoverished towns and villages was an exercise in bad taste, then the Mongol Derby is probably not for you either, pitting a bunch of well-heeled riders against what the organisers say is the toughest horse race in the world. 

It is hard to say what Genghis Khan would have thought about English gentry paying over $10,000 to pretend like they know how to handle wild Mongolian stallions, but it just goes to show that people with money can just about convince themselves of anything as long as they part with enough cash to get a certificate with their name on it.

Il Palio di Siena

If you thought the racing crowds for the Grand National at Aintree got wild, wait till you see the furore that erupts at the Il Palio di Siena, which takes place in Tuscany. 

Horses and their traditionally dressed riders shoot around a track that has tight bends, treacherously close walls on a dirty floor, whose dust kicks up as the revolutions increase along with the crowd noise. 

This all makes for a gladiatorial atmosphere, one which has the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. In truth, it is completely nuts, as is the winner’s party that takes place afterwards.

Kiplingcotes Derby

This cross-country race that takes place in the midst of the East Yorkshire Wolds is touted as the oldest in the world, having first taken place over 500 years ago. 

In true Yorkshire style it is a humble affair, with riders paying around five quid to enter and the winner taking home about fifty quid in prize money. 

However, the real prize is the competition’s glorious silver trophy, which is the pride and joy of any household it resides in. After all, not everyone can say that they are the winner of the world’s oldest race.

Drag Racing 

There are no roaring engines or flames being thrown out of exhausts at the Cutter & Chariot Racing Championship that takes place in Utah. 

Despite the race’s professional looking setup, the real beauty of it is that there is no prize money involved, with riders and owners just doing it all for the thrill of the race.