Horse racing continues to thrive in the Caribbean

Horse racing has a rich history in the Caribbean: the sport takes place not just on the English-speaking islands of Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, but also in Dominican Republic, Martinique and Puerto Rico.

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Credit: RAV_HIPICO via Twitter

The most prestigious and popular race in the Caribbean is the Clasico Internacional del Caribe. This has a worldwide appeal and takes place annually in December at a different track. In 2016, it was hosted by Camarero where a horse from Panama named El Tigre Mono came out on top. This is also known as the Caribbean Derby. Like the most famous derby in the world at Epsom in the UK, it is open to three-year-olds and has Grade One status.

Largely due to the weather, flat racing is the only form of the sport which has really taken off in the Caribbean. The majority of the racing at the tracks takes place on dirt, which is safer for the horses as it would be very difficult to keep turf tracks watered to ensure they are not too firm. Jumps racing, which is very popular in the UK and large parts of Europe, would not be practical as soft ground is needed to ensure safe conditions for not just the horses but also the jockeys, who sometimes come off their mounts and hit the ground at speed.

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Credit: Paul Miller via Twitter

Although jumps racing has never taken off in the Caribbean, like many parts of the world, they still tune into the Grand National at Aintree in England in April every year. As you can see from the infographic below, the steeplechase was first run in 1839 and won by a horse called Lottery. The name of the inaugural winner has proved fitting, as it has often been a lottery as to who has come out on top – and that is part of the appeal of the race. It is no surprise to see horses win this race at odds as high as 100/1, as occurred in 2009 when Mon Mome came out on top.

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The weights list for the 2017 running of the Grand National has already been revealed and if you want to take a look at the full runners and their respective odds click here… The betting is headed by 10/1 Vieux Lion Rouge for trainer David Pipe, who won this race in 2008 with Comply or Die.

Once the Grand National is out of the way in the UK, the focus then turns onto the Flat season. There are five Classics each year in the UK. The 2000 Guineas and 1000 Guineas, which are for colts and fillies respectively, take place in early May. The Oaks for fillies and Derby for colts then occur in June. Finally, the St Leger ends the Classic season in the UK, and this is the longest race the three-year-olds takes part in as it is over the trip of 1m 6f. Any horse who wins either the 2000/1000 Guineas, Oaks/Derby and the St Leger is a Triple Crown winner in the UK. The last colt to do this was Nijinsky in 1970.

Although the UK is not known for having great weather, their quality of racing is as good as anywhere in the world; it is what many parts of the world including the Caribbean strive towards.

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