Horse Racing is typically most prevalent in nations such as the United Kingdom and the United States of America. In the former, it has for decades been the country’s second biggest spectator sport behind soccer.
The origins of the sport at a regulated level can be traced back to the 17th and 18th centuries in the transatlantic nations. But since then, the love for the sport has spread to many countries all over the globe, one of which is Spain.
Spain’s growing horse racing scene
Spain has many big horse racing tracks which host huge races year-on-year. The sport began to take off in the European nation in the 20th century, when several racecourses were rebuilt or renovated, to rival some of the greatest horse racing courses around the continent.
The investment of the sport in Spain was certainly influenced by surrounding nations hosting huge events that drew in worldwide viewers.
One UK event that existed prior to the race’s rise in Spain was the Cheltenham Festival which will take place in March next year. The highlight event of the festival is the Gold Cup and according to Paddy Power horse racing, Galopin Des Champs is the +200 favorite to claim victory in 2024.
The Grand National is another prestigious event that perhaps helped inspire the sport’s rise in Spain. According to several major betting UK sites, the favorite for the 2024 main event at Aintree Racecourse is Corach Rambler at odds of +1600.
The UK’s long-standing major horse races will undoubtedly have played a part in inspiring the upturn in the sport’s popularity in Spain in centuries of the past. It remains much more popular in the island nation, but Spain has gone on to create impressive courses that host what have now become incredibly prestigious events.
Hipodroma de la Zarzuela Racecourse
La Zarzuela Racecourse is located in the nation’s capital, Madrid. The racecourse was one of the first of its kind that was established in Spain. It is known as Spain’s Cheltenham seen at The Spain Event which is an indication of the UK’s influence.
It was opened in 1941 and features a modernist design, which can rival any European track when it comes to aesthetics.
?Nuestro pequeño lugar en el mundo.
Hogar, dulce hogar.
— Hipódromo de La Zarzuela (@HipodromoMadrid) August 19, 2023
La Zarzuela hosts one of Spain’s most historical races known as the Gran Premio de Madrid, which has taken place since the venue’s inauguration in the 1940s.
The race track has a spectator capacity of 6,000, which certainly does not compare to major venues in horse racing nations like the UK. However, the sport is not rooted in Spanish culture like is in British.
It has been on a gradual upward trajectory since the sport was regularly played at a professional level in the 19th century.
Hipodromo de Pineda
The Hipodromo de Pineda race course is located in the south of Spain in Seville. The venue hosts a variety of different sports besides horse racing such as soccer and golf. It has space for 5,000 spectators, and while it is an impressive venue, as seen at the Racing Post, it does not compare to the horse racing venues in the UK.
Pineda holds racing events year-round, with a winter season meaning fans can get a taste for the sport even in the colder months.
Cheltenham from above ?
? Venetia Williams Racing pic.twitter.com/aCbnjh85TS
— CheltenhamRacecourse (@CheltenhamRaces) July 13, 2023
Ultimately, Spain’s horse racing popularity is regularly on the rise. However, the sport is not embedded into the nation’s deep-rooted history and culture, meaning it will likely never rival the top horse racing nations.
However, fans of the sport located in Spain can still take in exhilarating racing action on home soil. A number of Spanish venues have built up a solid level of prestige and they hold major racing events throughout the year.