Race to the Bucket List

Lists... I write them for everything. In my 20's I was great at writing them, just not great at completing them. Then I turned 30 and had what some may call a 'quarter life' crisis. Needless to say, I'm now a bit of stickler at keeping both my personal and professional ambitions on track. Travel is a big one and of course part of that is experiencing horse racing all around the world.

*Birdsville Races. Image courtesy of Sharon Chapman Photography.

Horse racing is a global sport yet each country has their own style, characteristics and traditions, especially when it comes to feature Carnivals. Travelling to other destinations provides a fantastic opportunity to not only combine a common love of horses, the sport and exploring new places, but it can also be a great learning experience. So here's my Top 10 Bucket List of Worldwide Race Meetings I'll be ticking off before I turn 50...

1. Royal Ascot Carnival - Complete with top hat, tails and the Queen's daily carriage arrival, the Royal Ascot Carnival offers the very best of English racing. A number of Australian horses have left their mark here including Miss Andretti, Takeover Target, Choisir and Black Caviar. Next edition: 20 - 24 June 2017.

2. Palio Di Siena - Whilst strolling the beautiful little Italian town of Siena it's hard to imagine the cobble stoned Piazza Del Campo transformed into a race track. Yet twice a year, ever since the 16th century, the piazza is packed to the rafters as crowds take in the tradition-laden spectacle. Next edition: 2 July & 16 August 2018.

3. Darwin Cup - Another dirt track Cup, this time in the lush tropics of the Northern Territory. I'm not sure if I'm more interested in the race day or just the Darwin Turf Club's famed outdoor black tie Gala Ball! Next edition: 7 August 2017.

4. Birdsville Races - Camping out in the middle of the Aussie outback for a weekend full of grass roots racing, entertainment and fabulous local hospitality...Sign me up now! Head over to Sharon Chapman Photography to see some amazing shots of this unique carnival or watch the All Roads to Birdsville video clip. Next edition: 31 August - 2 September 2017.

5. Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe - Paris and horse racing... do I need to say more? Regarded as Europe’s most prestigious horse race, it is the second richest race in the world and has been described as "Ce n'est pas une course, c'est un monument" – "It's not a race, it's a monument". Next edition: 1 October 2017.

6. St Mortiz White Turf - For three weekends in February, the annual "White Turf" festival is held on the frozen Lake St Moritz, Switzerland's winter playground for the rich and famous. Wearing specialised shoes, horses race in a variety of styles - gallop and hurdle races, trotting races (with sleds instead of traditional wheeled sulkies) and Skikjoring, where 'jockeys' are pulled behind the horses on skis. Recent years have seen issues with the ice not being thick enough to complete the full program, so we might need to get here before global warming puts an end to this unique event. Next edition: 4th, 11th & 18th February 2018.

7. Kangaroo Island Cup - A three day country Cup carnival accompanied by some amazing locally produced food and wine on one of Australia's most picturesque islands... what more could a girl ask for?! Next edition: 15 - 17 February 2018.

8. Dubai World Cup - In one of the world's richest countries, one of the world's richest men created the world's richest race at the world's most expensive racecourse. Next edition: 24 March, 2018.

9. Kentucky Derby - The Derby, run on a dirt track, is the first leg of the Triple Crown. It is known as the "The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports" but the town has turned it into a month long Festival! The raceday attracts over 150,000 patrons from all walks of life and apparently the Infield is where the party really happens! Next edition: 5 May 2018.

10. Warrnambool May Carnival - By all reports, and despite the cold, this is one of our best Country race meetings. The three day event is a mix of flat and jumps racing including the internationally-acclaimed Grand Annual Steeplechase, topped off with a daily after-party at Whalers. Read my previous blog on this famed Carnival here. Next edition: 1-3 May 2018.


With so many fabulous locations to visit, it was hard to narrow it down to ten! So here are a few more to whet the appetite. Thanks to everyone who participated in my recent Facebook poll which helped compile this list.

  • Cheltenham Festival

  • Hong Kong International

  • Sydney's Autumn Carnival & The Championships

  • Hanging Rock New Year's Day Races

  • Japan Cup

  • Broome Cup

  • Gold Coast Magic Millions Carnival

  • Grand National Steeplechase

  • The Triple Crown Series

  • Melbourne Spring Carnival - Caulfield, Moonee Valley and Flemington

If this list has enticed you to book a trip (or more!) like it has me, then Australian Racing Tours can help! Tick it off your list and experience a trip of a lifetime....and tell John that Racing Girl sent you. Visit their website for more.

Join the conversation - What's your ideal racing destination?

*Images Top L-R: Kangaroo Island, Palio di Siena, Kentucky Derby, St Moritz.

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