One of our most popular categories is undoubtedly horse racing toys and games. Manufacturers have long seen the potential for bringing the sport of kings into the home for fun-filled, family entertainment and as such many attempts have been made to produce the ultimate board game that captures the spirit and excitement of horse racing. Some games have become household names and have been played in much the same format for decades. Others have come and gone and are largely forgotten. Board games, particularly vintage games or early editions of current favourites are highly collectable.
Here, over time, we hope to create a definitive list of the great many horse racing board games that have been produced, both past and present. Clicking on the name of the game will perform a search that will enable you to see whether we have any currently available for sale and also give an indication as to what the value of a game might be, based on a record of previous sales and the prices achieved.
Each horse progresses by having its colour indicated by an arrow on the base of the previous horse to move, on a variable track with the colours in varied sequence. The result is predetermined as soon as the course is laid out and the first horse horse has chosen, but is completely unpredictable.
And They’re Off
The aim of the game was to be the player that amasses the most money by betting on a series of races. Odds are determined by the turn of a card and movement cards are also turned one at a time and the appropriate horse progressed around the track until the race is won.
Ascot – A Day At The Races
Taking the role of racehorse trainer, the concept of the game is to buy and sell horses at auction, selecting the best horse for each race and place bets on the race winners. The most successful trainer and therefore winner of the game would be the player that amassed the most money.
An attractive four-piece game board is slightly let down by the use of plastic counters rather than model horses. Published in 1986 by ZN Games.
Bookmaker is a relatively modern game, first being produced in 2012 by Italian brand, Giochi Uniti. As the name implies, the focus here is very much on the gambling aspect. It does not matter so much whose horses wins the races, the winner will be the player that is the most successful in their wagering.
Still currently available (2015) to buy new, Bookmaker is an inexpensive game for 3 to 9 players and features a whiteboard for recording betting odds and wooden playing pieces.
This is another modern board game, first published in 2008 and still currently in production (2015) under the Rio Grande Games brand. The game comprises of a large playing board and attractive cards and three-dimensional plastic horses.
Players are secretly allocated a horse and the unusual aim of the game is to be the player whose horse is in last place when the first horse crosses the finish line. Plenty of options for dirty tricks.
Dark Horse Classic
This is one of the lesser known games, self-published and first produced in 1989 and distributed only in Canada. It was a good quality production and featured a large game board and realistic horse models / playing pieces.
Players purchase shares in racehorses and this entitles them to a proportion of the prize money when their horses win races. At the end of the race day, the player that has accrued the most money is declared the overall game winner.
The game was nicely crafted and attractive with realistic wooden fences and flag poles, as well as metal horses. The play surface was either a soft plastic-type cloth mat or a felt one, depending on the edition. The aim of the game was to be the first to complete the course having negotiated the various obstacles. Cards bearing horseshoes determine the horse to be moved and by how far.
Horse Racing To-night
Horse Racing To-night was first produced in 1947 by Castell Brothers, well-known manufacturers of card and board games, under the brand name Pepys. The game consisted of a large, three-fold board and horses and jockeys that were made from either bakelite or metal in some editions.
Two pairs of dice were rolled simultaneously for speedy, exciting gameplay. The first die determined the horse to be moved and the second the spaces it should be moved.
Players select their horses and their odds, along with any handicap that accompany those odds. The race winner is paid out by all other players, according to the odds. The overall winner of the game is the player that accumulates the most chips (counters) at the end of the Jackpot (final) race.
Jumpy Jack is another modern board game, first published in 2000 by French games manufacturer, Ferti. The game is still currently in production (2015). The game features an attractive wooden board with a felt playing surface and metal horses.
The aim of the game is to correctly forecast the outcome of the race and attempt to engineer the result, using bluff so as not to reveal your intentions to other players who will be trying to realise their own prediction.
Lose Your Shirt
Lose Your Shirt is a Waddingtons Games horse racing board game, first published in 1976 and was also marketed in the 1980s as First Past The Post. It featured a felt playing surface and plastic horse models.
As the name implies, the concept is one based on betting. Players bet on horses in secret and then use strategy and bluff to try and achieve the win. Players choose when to reveal their horse and their bet.
Lucky Race Game
An early example of a horse racing board game, the design first having been registered by Bennet of Birmingham in 1919. Unusually, the board was made from a hinged metal sheet. It is unclear whether the game came boxed, utilised a slip-case for the board or some other form of packaging was used.
The game itself was a simple dice game where the playing pieces were progressed around the board according to the roll of the dice. Obstacles are apparent on the board simulating a steeplechase race. The winner would be the player whose horse reached the finish line first, having safely negotiated all obstacles.
Minoru was a game manufactured by John Jaques & Sons, London and later editions also by Chad Valley Co. It was produced from 1910 to 1920s. It came in both wooden and cardboard box editions. There was a five horse version and also a deluxe “Double Event” that came in a larger box and which featured eight larger horses and the cloth playing surface printed both sides, to allow for additional betting options.
Early editions of the game include the same horses that John Jaques also used in “Ascot”, an earlier game produced by the company, similar in concept to the more recent Escalado.
The game is named after Minoru, a real racehorse, winner of the 1909 Epsom Derby and owned by King Edward VII. The box cover features the horse being lead into the winner’s enclosure by his owner.
A relatively modern game, first produced in 2004 by Front Porch Classics, now under the University Games banner. Stretch Run was a beautifully crafted game and this was the concept of Front Porch Classics – to produce games that could be displayed as a feature within the home. There were two versions; the Old Century, which came in a wooden case and the Derby edition, which came in a metal case. The Old Century edition case opened out to form a particularly attractive game board.
A dice game with options for handicapping and wagering, it is also very playable.
The Really Nasty Horse Racing Game
Established favourite since the 1980s, The Really Nasty Horse Racing Game continues to be a popular choice and is still currently in production (now 2015). Over the years, the game has been manufactured by Rascals Products, Upstarts and more recently under the University Games brand. Dirty tricks is a theme central to the gameplay and you can bet on another horse while doing your best to ensure your own doesn’t win. In essence a simple dice game but strategy can make things much more fun.
As is often the case, earlier editions had nicer pieces than newer ones but there have been some improvements to the artwork in more recent versions.
Little information available about this game but we believe it would have been produced around 1910 onwards. Originally manufactured under the Johnson Brothers brand. Operating from around 1860, the Chad Valley name was not used until they moved to new premises in 1920.
The Whip was a simple dice game, with card horses and counters for placing bets, facilitated by a printed design within the game lid.
Totopoly is arguably the best known of all horse racing board games and is certainly among the longest-running and commercially successful of all the games based on the sport of kings. First produced in 1938 by Waddingtons, it features a double-sided board and various editions have sported plastic, cardboard and metal playing pieces.
The game is played in two stages, one on each side of the board and consist of a training stage where both advantages and disadvantages are earned, each of which will play a part when progressing to the race, during the second stage and on the alternate side of the board.
A modern twist combining electronics with a traditional board game. An attractive game board and fairly standard plastic playing pieces, plus the electronic console which determines post position, movement of the horses and also the outcome of a photo finish.
The winner is the player that earns the most money by the time three races (the TriQuest, presumably) have been completed by placing their horses in the first three home and wagering. First published in 2006 by Deep Creek Enterprises.