Horse racing meetings are extremely popular around the world and America is no different with several major meets taking place every year where owners and jockeys can win vast sums of money, while punters hope to back the first horse past the finishing post. One of the more popular American race meetings is the world famous Kentucky Derby. The Kentucky Derby is an annual event held in Louisville, Kentucky on the first Saturday of May. The race is a Grade I stakes race for three year old Thoroughbreds at the Churchill Down and it is a fitting ending race for the two week long Kentucky Derby Festival. It is one of the richest horse races in the world with a $2 million purse and a cool $1,425,000 being awarded to the first place finisher. To keep the playing field level, colts and geldings have to carry 126 pounds while fillies carry 121 pounds.

Americans call the Kentucky Derby “the most exciting two minutes in sports” as the horses make it around the 1.25 mile course in approximately two minutes. Secretariat holds the record for the fastest completion of the Kentucky Derby, winning the race in 1:59.4 minutes in 1973. The Kentucky Derby has run over the same 1.25 miles distance since 1896; races prior to this year ran over 1.5 miles. An estimated crowd of more than 10,000 people watched the inaugural Kentucky Derby in 1875 and it was a colt names Aristides, ridden by Oliver Lewis, who romped home to victory. The Kentucky Derby became part of a so called Triple Crown after thoroughbred owners began sending their successful Derby horses to compete in the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. Sir Barton became the first horse to win all three races, doing so in 1919, and 11 years later Gallant Fox became the second horse to complete the Triple Crown of American horse racing. Northern Dancer held the…

There are few events that can match a live horse race for excitement and exhilaration and even fewer that can rival the magic of the annual Grand National in the United Kingdom. The Grand National is a National Hunt horse race held at Aintree Racecourse near the city of Liverpool in England. It is one of the longest and toughest courses in the world with a horses having to jump 30 fences during two laps of the course that comes in at a distance of four miles 514 years, or 6.907 kilometres. William Lynn founded the Grand National in 1829 although there is much debate as to when the first Grand National race took place. Some say it was in 1836 and won by The Duke, which also won in 1837 before Sir William won in 1839. Records from this time are hazy at best and some believe these races took place at Maghull and

not Aintree and have therefore been removed from the official Grand National records. The 1839 race, won by Jem Mason on the horse Lottery that is referred to as the first ever Grand National race at Aintree. A famous Grand National story happened in 1928 when on the day of the race William Dutton, who was to ride Tipperary Tim, heard a friend shout out to him “Billy boy, you’ll only win if all the others fall down!” Amazingly, this actually happened with 41 of the 42 starters falling during the race, which was run in misty conditions and under very heavy going. Tipperary Tim won the race, which finished with only two riders after Billy Barton’s jockey Tommy Cullinan managed to remount and complete the course; Tipparary Tim won at 100/1 odds. In the 1970s, a horse named Red Rum began breaking a number of horse racing records in the United Kingdom and to this day is the only horse to win the Grand…