Popularity of Horse Racing by Country

Horse racing is enjoyed across the world, having formed distinct subcultures across Europe and Asia. While we have little use for riding horses nowadays, we have turned it into a well-known sport instead where fans try to predict who will win. Here we have a breakdown, by the numbers, of where horse racing is the most popular.

Horse Racing in the UK

Horse racing is a very big industry in the UK as well as a big part of the culture. In fact, it’s the country’s second-largest sport when attendance and revenue are collated, behind football. It’s estimated to generate over £4 billion for their economy by attracting upwards of six million spectators every year. With TV/online views considered, that number gets closer to 15 million.

The UK has a very active betting subculture, ranging from horse racing activities to online casinos. Many of the largest and most prominent iGaming sites are based out of the UK, or nearby Ireland, and many games are themed after popular interests in the region. As such, the industries support one another through games like Slingo Racing, which incorporates elements of a racing track into its gameplay. Outside of iGaming and similar betting industries, horse racing is also supported by the UK government.

Horse racing enjoys British audiences across the social strata, with the biggest events like the Epsom Derby receiving celebrity visitors from around the globe. The late Queen Elizabeth II was known to publicly support the races, owning many racehorses throughout her life, as documented by The Guardian.

Horse Racing in the USA

Horse racing was one of many things that America inherited from the British. Given America’s generous landmass, it’s home to many more racecourses than the British Isles and supports a much larger economy that generates roughly $50 billion (£39 billion) annually.  However, horse racing doesn’t have as broad appeal to Americans as it does in the old world.

Their biggest race of the year is the Kentucky Derby, whose 2023 outing saw over 16 million viewers at its peak. When compared with America’s much larger population, Britain comes out ahead with 22% viewer interest against the USA’s 4%. Like Britain, the most-watched horse racing event in America still fell short of their variety of football.

Horse Racing in Australia

Much like America, Australia carried on the British tradition of keeping and racing horses for sport, which became a national interest as early as the 1800s. Since then, it has claimed one of the biggest horse races in the world – the Melbourne Cup.

The 2023 Melbourne Cup pulled approximately 1.6 million viewers. From Australia’s smaller 25 million population, that makes viewer interest closer to 6.5%. As the largest horse race, the two-mile slog is supplemented by international audiences but has seen national viewership decline in recent years.  Horse racing is estimated to generate A$5 billion (£2.5 billion) annually, with over a billion of that coming from tax.

Globally, the horse racing industry is expected to grow from now till 2030. Booming markets in Saudi Arabia and Japan have made the sport more popular in markets that hadn’t traditionally welcomed the sport. With a CAGR of 8.89%, horse racing may generate nearly $800 billion (£620 billion) over the next five years, according to Zion Market Research.