As we say goodbye to the jump season at Punchestown, one could be forgiven for thinking that it’s going to be all sprint and speed over the summer. However there are plenty long distance races to look forward to.
We have taken a look at the longest races in the world and there are some very interesting ones in there.
Professional Flat racing:
Some races instantly pop to mind when we consider some of the longest races in professional flat racing.
The Queen Alexandra Stakes
The Queen Alexandra Stakes is part of the annual Royal Ascot meeting which takes place on an annual basis each June.
Run over 2 miles, 5 furlongs and 143 yards the contest is open to horses four years of age and older. It is the longest official flat thoroughbred race for professional jockeys.
The extreme length can attract a varied field, and it often includes horses from hurdle racing. Irish trainer Gordon Elliott won the race with Pallasator in 2018 when steered by Jamie Spencer to victory.
The most recent leading jockey (to win the race three times since 1960) is Ballydoyle stable jockey Ryan Moore. He won the race in 2010 on Bergo, 2012 when guiding Simenon to victory and 2014 aboard Pique Sous.
The Queen Alexandra Stakes is traditionally the last race on the final day of the five-day Royal Ascot meeting. It sometimes features horses which ran on the opening day in the Ascot Stakes, and the most recent to win both in the same year was Simenon in 2012.
The Ascot Gold Cup
The Royal Ascot Gold Cup is traditionally held on the third day of the Royal Ascot meeting which is also colloquially known as Ladies Day. The Group 1 contest is run over 2 miles, 3 furlongs and ten yards and open to horses four years of age and older.
The contest is as well-known for its history as is its prestige. Established in 1807, the stayers’ race stands proudly as one of the main attractions of the five days of racing at Royal Ascot each June.
The contest is the first leg of Britain’s Stayers’ Triple Crown, followed by the Goodwood Cup and the Doncaster Cup. The last horse to win all three races in the same year was Double Trigger in 1995. Jockey Lester Piggott won the Ascot Gold Cup a record 11 times over four decades starting in the late 1950’s.
Aidan O’Brien has a strong connection with the Ascot Gold Cup having won the race as a trainer no less than seven times. He also trained son of Sadler’s Wells, Yeats, to victory four times in succession. A statue of Irish superstar Yeats, now stands majestically in the parade ring at Royal Ascot.
The Prix du Cadran
Longchamp Racecourse play host to the Prix du Cadran which is run over a distance of two and a half miles and takes place annually every October.
The French equivalent of the Royal Ascot Gold Cup, it is France’s most prestigious race for stayers.
Founded in 1837, the race was initially contested over one and a quarter laps of the track. The most successful horse won the race four times, named Marsyas – who impressively won seventeen of his twenty seven races, won the Prix du Cadran in succession from 1944 to 1947.
The 2016 and 2017 running of the race took place at Chantilly while Longchamp was closed for redevelopment.
2018 witnessed the return to Longchamp where the Freddy Head-trained Call The Wind won the two and a half mile contest under the guidance of Aurelien Lemaitre.
There are two other notably longer races over the flat although they are for non-professionals.
Newmarket Town Plate
Newmarket in Britain is known as the home of horse racing so it is fitting that it is home to one of the oldest surviving horse race in the world. It is also one of the longest in distance.
The Newmarket Town Plate is a historic British horse race run over 3 mile 6 furlongs for amateurs. It is a historic race which has been run in the town of Newmarket, Suffolk since 1666.
The race was instigated by King Charles II, who also won the first running. He stated that it should be run ‘forever.’
2019 marks the 350th running of the oldest surviving horse race. Only amateurs are allowed to compete, and in return the winner of the contest wins prize of a Perpetual Challenge Plate; a photo frame; a voucher from the Newmarket High Street clothes shop Golding; and a box of Powters Celebrated Newmarket Sausages!
It is only open to genuine amateurs and has attracted a magnificent menagerie of riders from varied backgrounds.
However, some names are more familiar than others. Sheikh Fahad Al Thani, the chairman of Qatar Racing and Qatar Bloodstock, won the race in 2016.
The 2019 Newmarket Town Plate contest takes place this year on August 24th.
The Kiplingcotes Derby
The Kiplingcotes Derby is widely accepted to be the oldest annual horse race in England that is run over a distance of four and a half miles.
It reputedly began in 1519 and takes place on the third Thursday in March, often in exceptionally adverse weather conditions. The 500th race took place on March 21st 2019.
However. it is not for professional jockeys and is run across an open field rather than a racecourse. Thus the race takes place around an arduous farm track and field.
Rules include that any horse of any age can be ridden in the race.
Riders must be 10 stone – excluding the saddle and all those wishing to enter must gather by the starting post by 11am on the morning of the Derby. The day begins with a brief reading of the rules and a weigh-in at the finishing post; then riders make their way slowly to the start of the race from this point and race back.
A race surrounded by history, its inaugural running was in 1519 and the rule applies that in order to keep the tradition alive, the race must take place annually, and if it is not to take place on any given year, it must never be run again!
Steeple Chase/ Jumps Racing
The Grand National
The English Grand National is run over four miles and two and a half furlongs. The Grand National is one of the most famous National Hunt races on the sporting calendar and is known as ‘the ultimate test of horse and rider’.
Held annually at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool England, it attracts a massive following from racing fans, punters and the public alike.
It is a handicap steeplechase and the famous contest always hosts a full field of forty runners who have the challenge of thirty daunting fences to jump.
The Grand National was first run in 1839 and hosts an impressive history. In more recent times, the size and safety of the fences have been much improved but yet it is a tough challenge as the fences are bigger than any other National Hunt contest and some of the fences have become known to the public such as Becher’s Brook, The Chair and the Canal Turn.
It is the most valuable jump race in Europe, with a prize fund of £1 million in 2017.
Red Rum is a name closely associated with the Grand National, having taken the title three times in 1973, 1974, and 1977.
Most recently the Irish trained Tiger Roll who was ridden by Davy Russell become the first horse since Red Rum to retain this great race and trained by Gordon Elliott.
The Czech Grand National is called the Velká pardubická and is run over a distance of 6.9km. It takes place annually in Pardubice, Czech Republic. The race was first run in 1874, and the town of Pardubice is long known in the horse racing world.
The four miles and 506 yards of a contest takes place each year on the second Sunday of October.
Horses starting in the race must be at least six years old. Prior to 2009, the minimum age of a horse entering was seven years of age.
Czech horses must qualify by finishing at least one of four qualifying races during the season.
Historically, the most successful horse in the race was Železník. This Czech horse won the race four times, from 1987 to 1989 and again in 1991.
The inaugural running of the Mongol Derby took place in 2009 and has since continued annually.
The Mongol Derby is an equestrian endurance race. The race extends over a 1000km through the Mongolian Steppe and is known as the world’s longest horse race.
The Mongol Derby similarly incorporates 25 horse stations and rest stops through the Mongolian Steppe. It is a multi-horse race, modelled after the postal route established by Genghis Khan in 1224.
Along the course of the race, riders have the option to stay with local nomads or camp out. In 2010, the Mongol Derby achieved the Guinness World Record title of longest multi-horse race.
In addition to enduring the distance of the trek, some challenges faced by the participants include, a high probability of injury associated with riding 25 different unfamiliar and “semi-wild” Mongol horses, travelling through remote and unmarked territory in a variety of landscapes, exposure to harsh elements, physical discomfort and exhaustion, and rules of the race, such as restricted riding hours allowed each day.
In 2016 the Mongol Derby was won in a tie by three people, William Comiskey aka Dingo of Australia, Heidi Telstad of Canada and Marcia Hefker Miles of New Mexico.
The Tevis Cup
The Tevis Cup is the oldest endurance ride to take place across the world, dating back to its founding in 1955.
As such, it has been the inspiration and model for the most challenging endurance rides worldwide.
An amateur event, the Western trail ride is recognised as the founding of endurance riding.
Run over 100 miles the endurance race is held annually in California. The ride is sponsored by the Western States Trail Foundation. The ride is held in El Dorado and Placer County, California, starting at 5:15 a.m.
The ride is sanctioned by the American Endurance Ride Conference.
The Tevis Cup trophy is awarded to the person who completes the 100-Mile One-Day course in the shortest amount of time and whose horse is in sound condition and “fit to continue.”
While each rider who completes the 100 mile course from Tahoe to Auburn within the 24 hour time limit and afterward whose mount is judged “fit to continue” is awarded the coveted silver Completion Award Buckle.
The date of the ride is generally selected on a weekend in July or early August to best take advantage of the light from a full moon!
In 2018 the ride took place on July 28th, the conditions were unusually hot and humid with temperatures approaching 100°F.
Heather Reynolds, of Dunnellon, Florida, riding Cayucos won the ride. This was her third Tevis Cup victory.
Paris Grand Prix (originally Prix de Paris)
The race track Vincennes welcomes the trotting race, the Paris Grand Prix on an annual basis. Run over 4150 metres.
An international Group 1 race, the contest has certain criteria each horse entered must meet.
The entry must be aged between 4 and 10 years of age, excluding geldings, and each horse must have previously won €160,000 in prize money.
The race first took place in 1994. The prize money pot in total is worth €350,000, with €157,500 included for the winner.
The 2019 contest was won by Bélina Josselyn, who was driven to victory by Jean-Michel Bazire.
Örebro Intn’l (Sweden)
Trotting is one of the biggest sports in Sweden. There are 33 tracks spread all over the country that organise almost 1,000 race meetings every year.
Örebro Intn’l is a stairway for warm blood trawlers that runs on Örebrotravet in Örebro in Örebro County.
The contest takes place on the first Saturday in May each year in connection with the Örebrotravet arranging V75.
It is a Group 2 race, that is run over the distance 3140 meters with volt start and with the addition of 20 and 40 meters, respectively.
First prize is 400,000 Scandinavian dollars.
Just Wait And See was the victorious winner in 2018, when driven to pass the post first by Christoffer Eriksson who was coached by Hakan K. Persson.