Worldsport

Top 10 grandstand views: The world's most beautiful racecourses

Updated 1254 GMT (2054 HKT) January 10, 2014
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The flat racing season is up and running, notably in Dubai, which is gearing up for the "richest race in the world" in March. Racing's racecourses contain some of sport's most majestic architectural structures, with no expense spared to give punters a grandstand view... Francois Nel/Getty Images
The grandstand at the Meydan Racecourse in Dubai is an awe-inspiring structure which stretches for a mile (1600m) and can accommodate over 60,000 spectators. The racecourse complex, opened in 2010, covers 7.5 million square meters and includes a luxury five-star hotel, business and conference facilities, a marina and nine-hole golf course. It hosts the Dubai World Cup Carnival of racing which is highlighted by the prestigious Dubai World Cup in March. AFP/Getty Images
Aintree is best known for hosting the world-renowned Grand National, introduced to the English course 10 years after its opening in 1829. The grandstand was built by William Lynn, who even placed a full bottle of sovereign gold coins in the footing of the foundation stone, which remains untouched more than 180 years later. Getty Images
Ascot recently celebrated its 300th birthday, having been opened by Queen Anne in 1711. It is still technically property of the British royal family, although Parliament passed a special act in 1813 to ensure that the course remain public. For all of the grandstand's beautiful aesthetics, its $250 million makeover in 2004 was much maligned as patrons claimed they could not see the race clearly from some points. A further $15 million was spent two years later to raise the lower levels. Getty Images
Home of America's most famous race, the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs is named after the site's original owners John and Henry Churchill. They leased the land to their nephew Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. -- grandson of legendary explorer William Clark, one of the first two men to travel across North America. Originally created to replace two earlier, defunct Louisville racecourses, the Downs fast became the nation's most popular track. In 1986 it was designated a National Historic Landmark. Getty Images
The largest construction contractor in Britain, Wilmott Dixon, was tasked in 2009 with creating a new stand for the 300-year-old course, which hosts the Epsom Derby. The result was the $35 million Duchess' Stand, which can hold up to 11,000 spectators and even contains a 10,000-square-foot function hall. Getty Images
Australia's premier racecourse, Flemington, is home to the Melbourne Cup -- the country's richest race. After multiple renovations its three grandstands boast a total capacity of 130,000 people. The current appearance of the stands come courtesy of a $55 million revamp in 2000. Flemington even has its own railway branch line, shuttle bus and tram route to transport its huge crowds. Getty Images
Happy Valley Racecourse was originally constructed in 1845 to provide horseracing to Britons living in Hong Kong. Due to the island's hilly terrain the only suitable area was on Happy Valley's swampland, and the government prohibited local farmers from growing rice in the immediate vicinity to allow the course to be built. Modern day Hong Kong is now a populous metropolis, providing a unique backdrop to one of Asia's greatest racecourses. Getty Images
'Glorious' Goodwood stands out visually when compared to the world's other beautiful courses due to its surroundings. The view from the main grandstand, pitched high above rural Sussex in southern England, is spectacular. Its proximity to the coast means heavy fog often enshrouds the track, a scene unlike any other course in Britain. Alan Crowshurst/Getty Images
The Greyville Racecourse in Durban is home to top-class racing in South Africa and surrounds a championship golf course. It has spectacular views from its main grandstand of the city of Durban and the hotels on its Golden Mile. Residents of the city can access the course via a direct road which passes under the course. Anish Debiky/Getty Images
Simply put, there is no racecourse in the world quite like the Piazza del Campo in Italy. With origins dating back to medieval times, when public games were hosted in Siena's central piazza, the first racing events held were originally on buffalo. The first horse race took place in 1656. Since then the surroundings have barely changed, with the course lined with spectators on all four sides and in the central part of the piazza as the race takes place on the ring formed around it. Traditional sandstone buildings form the course's stands, and rural Tuscany forms the backdrop. Getty Images