The pleasure of watching a horse race is something that has captivated us for centuries. People love to watch, to keep track of the Kentucky Derby odds and bet on this and other events.
Thankfully, modern technology lets us take the reins and see the action from the other side, without even needing to wage money.
So, what are the best horse racing video games that you should know about?
Phar Lap Horse Racing Challenge
This 2019 release isn’t the sort of game in which you race wildly around the track trying to avoid other horses and jumping fences. Rather, it takes a more considered approach where you breed your horse using an in-depth genetic system and then watch them take part in the big races against rivals.
The cinematic graphics look fantastic and the motion-captured animations help to add to the appeal. You can even place bets on the races before they begin, to add some extra tension to the occasion. All in all, it’s a pretty comprehensive horse management simulator that does a good job of taking us close to the action.
It’s a game that might feel too slow and uneventful for fans of arcade games who are used to non-stop action, but provides a fascinating insight into the industry for someone who loves the idea of owning their own horses. If you’ve ever dreamed of winning the American Triple Crown, this game could be right for you.
Japan World Cup 3
Moving to completely the opposite end of the spectrum, this game from Cinema Keiba gives a hugely entertaining look at horse racing, even if not all of the animals taking part are what you would expect them to be. This is a simple, in-browser game for Windows that lets you place your bets and then settle back to watch how the race unfolds.
The developers have opted for a fun, completely unrealistic type of gameplay that is sure to take many first-time players by surprise. This isn’t the Kentucky Derby or the Pegasus World Cup, or any other big horse racing event you’ve ever seen.
Instead, the action involves the likes of dancing horses, giraffes, and even elephants trying to win the races. With most of the best horse racing games focusing on the strategy and breeding elements, this all-action title adds a light-hearted approach that makes for a neat change of style.
Starters Orders 7
This is the latest instalment in the popular Starters Orders series of games from Strategic Designs Ltd. It focuses on the breeding and management aspects, letting you build up a group of horses that you then enter into races.
This game was released in 2019 and adds some interesting new features to the previous titles in the series. With in-depth breeding statistics and new racecourse designs to enjoy, Starters Orders 7 captures much of the magic of horse racing,
The sixth game in this series was the first to introduce the jockey’s eye-view with VR headsets supported. There’s also an old-style betting shop mode that should be great fun for anyone who enjoys placing their wagers.
Glory Horse Racing
This title from Equilon was released in 2020, and quickly became one of the most talked-about horse racing games for Windows and Macs. As with many of the top games in this genre, it puts you in charge of a stable where you need to buy the right horses and breed your way to success on the racetrack.
There are 200 horses and 24 jockeys included in this game, so part of the secret to success is in finding the right combination for each race you take part in, taking into account the racetrack and the weather. Every win that you achieve gives you a trophy plus financial rewards that help you to grow your stable even more.
Race your horse in manual mode or use simulation mode where you just need to play your bets and then watch the horses run. This sort of flexibility means that this is a game that could appeal to arcade fans as well as strategists.
Rival Stars Horse Racing
The incredible popularity of mobile gaming in recent years means that our list wouldn’t be complete with a game aimed at mobile users. Rival Stars Horse Racing from PIKPOK lets you manage a stable of horses as you attempt to breed champions.
One of the best things about this horse management game is that it lets you race your horses on some of the world’s most famous racetracks. In fact, you can choose to play as a breeder, a trainer, or a jockey.
Each of these modes gives you different ways of playing and decisions to make. Away from the races, you can choose to ride in time trials or go exploring in Free Roam mode. This game was first brought out on mobile devices in 2019 before moving to a desktop version a year later. The Phar Lap game mentioned earlier is a console version of the same game that has a lot of similarities with this game.