Top 3 Biggest Horse Races in Asia

Japan Cup

Asia has a long, proud history of horse breeding and racing. This can be seen in events like the Mongol Derby, which is the world’s longest horse race and recreates the incredible horse-based messenger system set up by Genghis Khan. 

In terms of prestige and glamour, what are the main Asian horse races to look out for?

The Nakayama Grand Jump

Arguably the highlight of the Asian racing calendar, the Nakayama Grand Jump is held at the racecourse of the same name each April. This event began life in 1999 and is a steeplechase, with the US $1.7 million in prize money making it one of the richest races of this type in the world.

This is one of only two Grade I steeplechases in Japan and the sharply twisting track makes it a tough ride. Horses of four-years-old and above can enter the Grand Jump. What makes it stand out among the world’s other great racing events like the Kentucky Derby and Royal Ascot is that it is largely a family-oriented occasion.  

The race is over 4250 meters, which works out at over 2 and a half miles. It was known as the Nakayama Daishogai until changing name to its present title in 1999 and is typically won by Japanese horses, with only five instances to date of overseas runners taking home the top prize. The 2021 version was won by Meisho Dassai, ridden by Kasuma Mori.

The Japan Cup  

Just like the US, there is a Japanese Triple Crown that horses and trainers aim for. In the Asian country, this series of races covers the Satsuki Sho, Tokyo Yushun, and  Kikuka Sho, which are all sometimes referred to by English alternative names. However, it is the Japan Cup that stands out as the next biggest Asian race.

You will see that this race is run on the final Sunday in each November, at the famous Tokyo Racecourse. The distance is 2,400 meters, which is around a mile and a half. Up to 18 horses can take part, with a massive purse of US $5.8 million making it one of the planet’s richest horse races. 

Unlike the previous race, this an invitational event that tends to produce winners from all over the world and has included some stirring finished that have helped to cement it as one of the greatest horse races. It was first run in 1981 and the most recent race saw Almond Eye ridden by jockey Christophe Lemaire claiming the 2020 title. 

The Dubai World Cup

The Sha Tin Racecourse in Hong Kong also holds some terrific races throughout the year. However, the Dubai World Cup is the event that claims the final place on the list. Inaugurated in 1996, it is now held each March in the spectacular Meydan complex.

It is the final race held on the glamorous Dubai World Cup Night at the stadium, where the rich and famous come to enjoy an evening of quality horse racing. The title of the world’s richest horse race has flipped between this event and the Pegasus World Cup in recent years, with the Dubai race holding the record again at the time of writing.

The accepted age of the horses taking part varies depending upon whether they are from the northern or southern hemisphere. 

They run on a dirt track over 10 furlongs, which is around 1,000 meters, with this classed as a Grade I flat race. Mystic Guide won the 2021 Cup, with jockey Luis Saez riding, which meant that this horse won $7.2 million out of the total of $12 million in prize money.

Is it legal on bet on horse racing in Asia?

While in the US the legislation is only changing recently and more states are approving of horse racing betting online (most recently Michigan, as you can read here:, most countries in Asia have legalized horse racing betting for ages. 

In fact, even in middle eastern Islamic countries all sorts of gambling is banned, except horse and camel race betting. India is other of the Asian countries that has strong penalties on gambling, but opens an exception for horse racing. 

So, find the best solution next to you, watch the races and start profiting from betting on horses.