June 10, 2016 / Luxury Lifestyle

The World's Most Beautiful Racecourses

Some of the world's best racecourses also boast spectacular architecture, lush scenery, and luxury facilities


The world’s premier racecourses not only provide top equestrian entertainment but also represent some of the most beautiful and striking architecture in the sporting world. Here’s our pick of the most spectacular tracks.

Piazza del Campo, Siena, Italy
Surrounded by the breathtaking scenery of rural Tuscany, Siena’s magnificent central piazza combines rich history with architectural distinction. Its concave shell shape is divided into a sunburst pattern, defined by red-brick paving, which dates to 1349. Twice annually, this timeless splendor at the heart of the city explodes with animation as the Palio di Siena horse race is run beside the traditional sandstone buildings of medieval Italy.

Perhaps Italy's most famous sporting event, the Palio di Siena is a thrilling bareback horse race that lasts, on average, just 75 seconds. Around two thirds of the Sienese population attends the much-anticipated event. Banner image: The Prix de Diane race at Chantilly Racecourse, France.Happy Valley, Hong Kong
Arguably Asia’s greatest and most extraordinary racecourse, the equestrian events at Happy Valley are overlooked by the city’s vibrant jungle of skyscrapers, creating a dramatic juxtaposition of buzzing metropolis and serene rural beauty. 

Bustling Hong Kong provides a stunning backdrop to the Happy Valley Racecourse, originally built in 1845 to offer horse racing to Britons living in the former colony.Churchill Downs, Kentucky, USA
Following a $121 million renovation completed in 2005, the glorious facilities of Churchill Downs have been impressively modernized, fully justifying the premier racetrack’s title of National Historic Landmark. Stretching over 147 acres, the racecourse, which has been the home of the annual Kentucky Derby since its official opening in 1875, now boasts 79 luxury suites, a new clubhouse, and the world’s largest ultra high-definition video board. Most definitive, however, are the renowned twin hexagonal spires, a stunning and universally recognised architectural feature atop the grandstand that dates back to 1895.

Barbaro was an American thoroughbred racehorse who won the 2006 Kentucky Derby, but shattered his leg two weeks later in the 2006 Preakness Stakes, eventually leading to his death. A bronze statue of the much-loved horse stands outside the entrance to Churchill Downs.Ascot, Berkshire, England
A legendary racecourse and pinnacle of British heritage, Ascot celebrated its 300th anniversary in 2011. Enjoying a prestigious connection with the Royal Family since its opening during Queen Anne’s reign, this splendid course is the heart of the country’s thoroughbred horse racing, hosting 26 equestrian events every year. The grandstand’s beautiful aesthetics were designed to mirror the trees of the surrounding Berkshire countryside.

The 247 private boxes at Ascot offer uninterrupted views of the racecourse, and each includes a private bar and dining room with a flatscreen TV, bespoke catering, and a private balcony.Chantilly Racecourse, Chantilly, France
Located just 30 miles north of Paris, the magnificent Hippodrome de Chantilly hosts several notable races throughout the season, climaxing with the Prix du Jockey Club in June. The outstanding palatial grandstand, of French artistry, was built in 1879 by famed architect Pierre Jérôme Honoré Daumet. It is regarded as an example of pioneering design, in its combination of picturesque style with Continental tradition.

The popular annual Prix de Diane race, held at Chantilly, has long been linked to luxury and glamour – it was initially sponsored by Revlon from 1977-82 and then by Hermès from 1983 to 2007. The current sponsor is the prestige watchmaker Longines.Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne, Australia
Sitting on the fringe of bustling Melbourne, and set against the picturesque backdrop of Maribyrnong River, Australia’s stunning Flemington Racecourse is most famous for hosting the nation's richest horse race – the Melbourne Cup. Attracting a wealth of celebrities and style-savvy racegoers since 1840, Flemington is recognized on the Australian National Heritage list.

Set on over 300 acres of river flats, Flemington is one of the longest racetracks in Australia. The track is famous for the "Straight Six" - the six-furlong length of straight track that makes it one of the most challenging tracks in the world. Photograph: Getty ImagesMeydan, Dubai
Completed in 2010 and highly regarded for its innovation, the visionary Meydan grandstand propelled Dubai’s racecourse into the international arena as the longest single structure in the world at one mile (1,600 meters), and holding 60,000 spectators. The racecourse hosts a number of notable races, including the world’s richest race day, the Dubai World Cup, and boasts a horse-racing museum, gallery, spectacular nine-hole golf course, and the first trackside five-star hotel.

The impressive Meydan grandstand stretches for a mile (1,600 m) and can seat over 60,000 spectators. The complex includes a luxury five-star hotel, a marina, golf course, and business facilities.

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