Horse racing architecture, Best race tracks guide, World racecourse buildings

Horse Racing Architecture: Best Designed Race Tracks

18 April 2024

Horse racing is a truly unique sport. From the thrills of the races to the incredible events packed with people that make other sporting events like the World Cup Final and the Super Bowl look like small-town concerts.

This is one of the oldest sports in the world, where most of the popular racetracks share more than 100 years old history.

Over the years, the best horse racing tracks have been updated and renovated and nowadays they are state-of-the-art facilities, capable of accommodating thousands of cheering fans from all around the world.

Some of the racecourses are truly spectacular and should be seen even by non-horse racing fans. The combination of history, technology, and sheer size makes them one of the biggest and most advanced sporting venues in the world.

In today’s article, we’ve decided to highlight some of the best-designed horse racing tracks that feature unique architecture.

Churchill Downs, USA

  • Location: Louisville, Kentucky
  • Capacity: Over 170,000 spectators
  • Built Date: 1875

Should we really talk about Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby? At this point, I think everybody knows about this race, even people who are not really interested in the sport. According to TwinSpires it is also one of the most popular horse races in terms of betting, and if you like to place a bet.

Churchill Downs boasts quite beautiful architecture with the ‘twin spires’ that have become the iconic symbol of the derby.

This racetrack has been renovated multiple times, but the currently undergoing renovation project that cost $200 million is the biggest one yet. These renovations will be complete just in time for the 150th anniversary of the Kentucky Derby.

So, if you want the best of the best in terms of architecture and luxury, Churchill Downs is the perfect racetrack to go to.

Ascot Racecourse, UK

  • Location: Ascot, Berkshire
  • Capacity: Up to 70,000 spectators
  • Built Date: 1711 (first race recorded)

The Ascot Racecourse is probably one of the most beautiful racetracks in the United Kingdom. It is renowned for its elegance and luxury. After all, we are talking about a racecourse known for its royal connections.

The Grandstand has sweeping balconies and an ornate façade, giving us a sense of regal charm. It is a racecourse that highlights traditional British architectural elements combined with modern amenities.

Meydan Racecourse, UAE

Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Capacity: Over 60,000 spectators

Built Date: 2010

This is a relatively new horse racing track, at least compared to the other ones in this article. The Meydan Racecourse is probably one of the most advanced, and modern racecourses on the planet.

This is also probably the only racecourse that has a sprawling grandstand that stretches over a kilometer in length. It is just as striking as Dubai’s skyline.

As we mentioned, it features a modern design with the use of glass and steel to create that modern and futuristic feel. This racecourse also has luxurious hospitality suits and quite expensive viewing areas.

Belmont Park horse racing tracks, USA Horse racing architecture

Belmont Park, USA

  • Location: Elmont, New York
  • Capacity: Over 90,000 spectators
  • Built Date: 1905

Known for the Belmont Stakes, the final leg of the Triple Crown, often said to be the ultimate test of champions might not be much at the moment. Don’t get me wrong, it is a beautiful racetrack, but nothing compared to the other ones we covered so far.

But that’s about to change soon. The racetrack with a 156-year history is getting a massive $455 million facelift. Yes, the popular Belmont Stakes race will be held at Saratoga Race Course until the renovations finish, which officials say may be in 2026.

After seeing the renders of what Belmont Park will look like after the renovations, I think it is safe to say that this is going to be one of the most beautifully designed racetracks, not just in the US, but in the world.

The capacity will remain the same, but the Grandstand now features a modern design that looks like it came from the future.

We are really excited to see what the finished racetrack will look like.

Tokyo Racecourse, Japan

  • Location: Tokyo, Japan
  • Capacity: Over 220,000 spectators
  • Built Date: 1933 (original track)

Tokyo Racecourse, also known as Fuchu Racecourse, is one of Japan’s premier racing venues.

It’s also the largest racetrack in the world! This thing is truly massive, and the only way to get an idea of its size is to go there.

Its expansive layout, featuring a turf and dirt track, caters to a large audience and hosts prestigious events like the Japan Cup. The modernization efforts in recent years have elevated Tokyo Racecourse to international acclaim, showcasing a seamless blend of tradition and innovation.

Great Horse Racing, Better Course Architecture

Innovations in Track Features

Synthetic Surfaces: Tracks like Churchill Downs in the USA and Flemington Racecourse in Australia have embraced synthetic surfaces, offering consistent and safe racing conditions regardless of weather.

Interactive Viewing Areas: Modern tracks incorporate interactive viewing areas, allowing fans to engage with live data, replays, and betting options seamlessly.

Green Initiatives: Sustainable practices are gaining momentum in track design, with venues like Santa Anita Park in California implementing eco-friendly measures such as solar panels and water conservation strategies.

Comments on this guide to Horse racing architecture article are welcome.

Racecourse Buildings

Horse Racing Venue Buildings

Great Horse Racing, Better Course Architecture
Great Horse Racing, Better Course Architecture

Most beautiful horse racing venues in the world

Contemporary Racecourse Architecture – architectural selection below:

Concept design for Ireland’s most prestigious racecourse
Design: Grimshaw, architects with Newenham Mulligan & Associates
The Curragh Racecourse
image courtesy of architects office
The Curragh Racecourse

Tokyo Racecourse Fuji stand, Japan:
Tokyo Racecourse Fuji stand, Japan
photo courtesy of Goki (CC BY-SA 3.0 (
Five Best Horse Racing Venues in the World

The Club Stand for the Victoria Racing in Melbourne, Victoria:
Five Best Horse Racing Venues in the World - The Club Stand for the Victoria Racing in Melbourne
photograph © Sean Fennessy

Royal Ascot grandstand and paddock, England, UK:
Five Best Horse Racing Venues in the World - Royal Ascot grandstand and paddock
image courtesy of flickr

Longchamp Paris racecourseL
Five Best Horse Racing Venues in the World - New Longchamp Racecourse Paris
picture © Dominique Perrault
Longchamp Paris racecourse

Meydan Dubai racecourse, UAE – Jaguar Style Stakes:
Meydan Dubai racecourse, UAE - Jaguar Style Stakes
photo courtesy of Jaguar MENA (CC BY 2.0 (

Wellington Racecoures, Belgium
Design: BURO II
Wellington Racecoures

New Longchamp Racecourse Paris

Horse Park in Yeongcheon, South Korea

Doncaster Racehorse Facility

Happy Valley Hong Kong Racecourse

Building Articles

British Houses

English Architecture

Comments / photos for the Great horse racing, even better course architecture page welcome