Thoroughbreds galloping around a track at high speed is a spectacle that has captivated crowds for almost 3,000 years. Whether at the Kentucky Derby, the Melbourne Cup, the Grand National, or a local racecourse, the appeal is undeniable.
Some would argue the best seats in the house are not in the stands, but in the saddles. Feeling the wind rushing through your hair and the thundering of hooves is an adrenaline experience like no other.
However, just like being a Formula 1 driver, being a jockey is a specialist skill not everyone can master. This is why simulated experiences in the form of video games have become increasingly popular over the years.
Computer games offer us the chance to experience, at least part, what it is like to be a competitive jockey. The very best games offer all the thrill and challenge of the race, without any of the danger.
Understandably, as PC, console, and mobile gaming has become increasingly sophisticated, the appeal of racing games has grown. Along with this, the range of titles and diversity of experiences has expanded to offer more choice than ever before.
From complex simulators to themed slots similar to Virgin Games’ highly compelling Lucky Lady Charm, today’s options are endless. But what are the best horse racing games available, and what is it that makes them so popular?
- Winning Post
Now in its 10th release, the Winning Post series has been a firm Playstation favorite since its debut in 1993. Realistic graphics and gameplay, along with a depth of gameplay options, are the key factors in this game’s success.
Players of Winning Post can choose to race different breeds of horses around vividly realistic tracks. They can also add an additional dynamic to their game with a wide range of in-play wagering opportunities.
- Rival Stars Horse Racing
Though it has only been around since 2020, the impact of Rival Stars Horse Racing on the gaming world has been undeniable. Available in desktop and mobile formats, it offers a deep dive into every aspect of the horse racing world.
Players develop their own stable of horses to enter and race at the world’s most famous meets. Success breeds rewards which can then be reinvested in the ongoing goal to create a true racing champion.
- Phar Lap Horse Racing Challenge
When PikPok created Phar Lap Horse Racing Challenge, they used stop-motion cameras to capture the movements of real horses. As a result, they have created one of the most life-like digital representations of horse racing available.
Released for console and mobile, this game allows you to race against up to eight other players in real time. Phar Lap also allows you to manage, breed, and train your horses while creating a racing itinerary for each one.
- My Riding Stables
Available across a range of formats, My Riding Stables is less about racing and more about management. Charged with reviving the fortunes of a stable at Mill Creek, your main role is to breed and train horses.
This includes selecting a combination of horses to bread, raising the foals, and taking care of their needs and development. Less frantic than the racing games, My Riding Stables appeals to those who prefer something calmer and more strategic.
- G1 Jockey 4
Like many of today’s games, Nintendo’s 2007 release of G1 Jockey, the fourth iteration, offers an all-around racing experience. Breeding, training, horse care, and wagering are all featured in this continually popular game.
What really marks G1 Jockey 4 out from the crowd, is the detail and nuance of its racing simulation. Precise and subtle controls allow players to develop their skills through training and practice and enjoy an immersive riding experience.
Horse racing themed computer games have maintained steady popularity since the early releases of the 1980s. Each year, more and more racing, management, breeding, and strategy games are released for PCs, consoles, and mobile devices.
As technology and programming continue to improve, it seems likely that new and better games will continue to be developed. The only trend which may affect the popularity of these games is the public attitude to real-life horse racing.
Concerns about animal welfare have followed the sport since its inception, and the current trend is constantly in flux. That negative perceptions of real horse racing could lead to negative perceptions of digital games, however, is unlikely.
In fact, the thrill of horse racing will always exist, regardless of its real-life availability. One argument is that any restriction on real-life racing could actually cause a boom in its digital recreation.
Racing fans will always look to get their fix and with today’s realistic simulations, games offer an increasingly appealing option. With the constant improvement of virtual and augmented reality, this lure and realism of digital horse racing can only grow.
So, what’s your favorite horse racing themed game? Or is it time you tried your first one?