5 best Horse Racing games for armchair jockeys

by MaddOx
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Few sports can match the world of horse racing in terms of speed, excitement, and the unique partnership between man and beast. It is no surprise that the “Sport of Kings” is so popular with both spectators and bettors keen to assess subjects such as King George VI Chase – Ten Year Trends.

Despite that popularity, the sport enjoys something of a low profile in the video gaming world, certainly in comparison to the likes of football, the NBA, and the NFL. However, if you look hard enough, it is still possible to find a number of horse racing gems, enabling gamers to take to enjoy the thrills of the sport, without ever needing to take to the saddle. Here we present our top five.

Our 5 best Horse Racing games

Starters Orders 7

  • Platforms: PC, Steam
  • Release Date: 2018

The Starters Orders series is one of the longest-running and most popular within the horse racing genre. Released by Strategic Designs Ltd, the game offers an all-encompassing look at the racing world, with players able to control a stable, or pursue a career as a jockey should they wish.

The latest instalment, Starters Orders 7, represents a significant upgrade on its predecessors, with more detailed breeding stats for those looking to create their own champion, newspaper-style race cards and more realistic commentary. For those really looking to get in the box seat, the game also offers an excellent Oculus Rift mode.

Starters Orders 7 horse racing gameplay

Rival Stars Horse Racing

  • Platforms: PC, Android, Mac, iOs, PlayStation
  • Release Date: 2020

A horse racing game with a nice element of story, Rival Stars Horse Racing from developer PikPok, tells the tale of a youngster who inherits his grandfather’s ranch. What you do with the family ranch is then up to you. Become a jockey? Start your own training stable or breeding operation? Or some combination of the three?

All are options in a game which benefits from excellent graphics and a solid levelling up system. Travel to famous tracks around the world, and earn income by taking on jobs for others, or even by placing virtual bets.

Melbourne Cup Challenge

  • Platforms: PC, PS2, Xbox
  • Release Date: 2006

Developed by Sidhe International and published by Tru Blu Entertainment in 2006, this classic racing release is centred around the journey to win Australia’s most famous horse race. UK gamers are more likely to find the game under its European title Frankie Dettori Racing. Whatever the title, the game provides a wealth of choices, with players able to choose between jockey challenges, betting parties, and a detailed career mode featuring breeding, sales, and training. Online functionality enables both competitive and friendly multiplayer action.

Horse racing game Frankie Dettori Racing also known as Melbourne Cup Challenge

Champion Jockey: G1 Jockey & Gallop Racer

  • Platforms: PS3, Wii, Xbox360
  • Release Date: 2009

Released by Tecmo Koei in 2009, this game combines the earlier horse racing series of G1 Jockey and Gallop Racer, bringing the best elements of both games together. Featuring 19 separate tracks based on some of the biggest racecourses in the world, the game garnered praise for its use of motion controllers in replicating the riding experience.  Initially difficult to master, Champion Jockey is challenging, but ultimately all the more satisfying should you manage to cross the line in front. 

Phar Lap: Horse Racing Challenge

  • Platforms: Xbox, PS4, Nintendo Switch
  • Release Date: 2019

Taking its name from the legendary New Zealand racehorse, this 2019 release took the visuals of a racing game to new levels with its excellent cinematic graphics. The genetic breeding feature allowing you to build your own stable is good, but where the game excels is in the races themselves, with exciting use of tactics and strategy. Boasting an online mode enabling you to both race and virtually bet against the competition, this game proved a big multiplayer hit at the time of its release.

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