Like many parts of the world, horse racing has a rich history in Latin America. The sport continues to thrive in a number of South American countries including Argentina, Chile and Costa Rica.
The most prestigious race today in South America is the Longines Latin American Grand Prix, which attracts some of best thoroughbreds from around the world – including North America – as they all chase the top prize fund on offer.
The Longines Latin American Grand Prix is open to three-year-olds and above, and takes place over the trip of either 2000, 2100 or 2400 meters, depending on the course hosting the race. Earlier this year, Valparaiso Spring in Chile was the venue, and the contest was run over 2400 metres on grass. Sixties Song was victorious from Argentina, Tinku from Chile finished second, while the 23/10 favorite Full of Luck, also from Chile, was third.
Unlike horse racing in other parts of the world, flat racing takes center stage in Latin America. Some of the best jockeys in the United States today started their careers in South America, including Victor Espinoza, who partnered American Pharoah to the Triple Crown in 2015, and Silvestre De Sousa, who is now one of the leading riders in the UK.
Although national hunt racing does not have the same appeal in South America as the UK, the continent still tunes in for the most famous steeplechase in the world, the Grand National, which takes place on Saturday in England. As you can see from the infographic below, the exciting jumps race is run over the marathon trip of 4miles and 514 yards, where a maximum field size of 40 runners jump 30 fences over two laps of the course at Aintree.
Vieux Lion Rouge, who features on the William Hill 2017 Grand National Betting Guide as one of the leading contenders, is the 11/1 favourite with the bookmakers to come out on top this year. The nine-year-old was sixth in the 2016 running of the contest which was won by Rule The World. He recently won around the Grand National course back in December in the Becher Handicap Chase, and is therefore justified at being top of the betting for the race this weekend.
The Grand National has produced some great stories over the years, which have gathered news coverage from all over the world. In the 1970s, Red Rum was everybody’s favourite horse as he was successful in 1973, 1974 and 1977. He is still the only runner to have won the Aintree race on three occasions.
In 1981, Aldaniti came out on top for jockey Bob Champion in what eventually inspired a Hollywood story. Champion had recently recovered from cancer, while the horse had returned from a number of career-threatening injuries to score in the Grand National. The pair received a fantastic reception from the crowd at Aintree when they returned to the winner’s enclosure that year.
This year’s Grand National may produce the latest story, so be sure to tune in on Saturday to see who scoops the most unique steeplechase chase in the world.