When it comes to stereotypically Australian activities, having a day at the racetrack has to come close to the top, eclipsed only, perhaps, by a day at the beach or an evening at the casino. Australians certainly love a bet. They are also fiercely competitive with a love of animals and of the great outdoors.
When you think about it that way, horse racing checks all the boxes. The only downside is that unlike such places as England or Ireland, there are not dozens of race meetings in Australia to choose from every day. Instead there are some seriously special festivals throughout the year such as Melbourne Cup week, the Victoria Cup and the Caufield Cup.
That leaves the question of keeping occupied in between events. Australians are almost as famous for their fondness of tech as for their love of gambling, so it should really come as no surprise that virtual horse racing is one of the most popular mobile gaming niches in the country. In fact, there are several to be found among the nation’s favorite mobile games in 2023.
Big Horsey Fortune casino pokey is first past the post
Casino pokies, or slot games, account for 50 percent of gambling spend in Australia. You can visit this page to see the massive range of online pokies that Australian online casinos have on offer. Typically, gamblers prefer tried and tested titles, which is why games like Starburst and Rainbow Riches are consistently rated in the top five pokies year after year.
Just occasionally, however, a new title comes along and really catches imaginations. That’s exactly what has happened with Big Horsey Fortune. Launched in March by Inspired Gaming, Australian mobile casino gamers haven’t been able to get enough of it.
The game takes a conventional 5×3 grid format, and players need to land at least three bonus symbols to trigger the Big Collector Bonus, which can lead to generous rewards.
Photo Finish is the go-to racing sim
To take a step back from the gambling angle for a moment, there are several good horse racing sims out there that put you in the thick of the action. Photo Finish was released in 2020 and is comfortably the best free to play racing sim out there.
As well as the on-track excitement, you will need to nurture your horse between races and work on its fitness as you gradually move up through the ranks from local derbies to gold cup stakes.
Complemented by excellent sound and graphics, this is a challenging but rewarding game. Be warned, it is also quite hard to put down!
Rival Stars Horse Racing has an interesting back story
Another sim game that is ostensibly similar to Photo Finish, Rival Stars is worth a mention as it presents a compelling back story and gives the game a different angle. Your character has inherited a racing stable and must make a success of it to honor the family name.
It’s a little like Racing Manager meets Farmville, as you juggle with breeding, training and hiring staff to keep the whole ranch in ship shape condition – and investing in new facilities to make it even better.
If you want a horse racing sim that’s about more than just horse racing, look no further. This is another one that can keep you engrossed for hours.
Horse Racing Manager lets you focus where you wish
Horse Racing Manager is the original horse racing sim, first released on Android in 2018 but based on the PC game that first appeared almost 20 years earlier. In terms of depth, it is a little like Football Manager in that there is so much information in there, you could play 1,000 times and keep learning.
In terms of overall look and feel, it is a step behind Photo Finish, even though the most recent update is much newer. However, HRM is more nuanced and the fact that you can focus on racing, training or breeding and leave the rest to the AI is a nice touch. After all, a game should be fun and not just another chore to get done every day!
Horse Racing 3D is great to dip into
If the preceding games sound like a little too much of a long term commitment, you might find we’ve save the best to last. Horse Racing 3D has an almost identical set up to Photo Finish. The difference is you can completely ignore the career mode.
If you prefer to just saddle up and try out the setpiece challenges, that’s fine. Lovingly created in 3D, you’ll have your eyes out on stalks as you power down the home straight. The challenges will definitely keep you well entertained until the Melbourne Cup comes rolling around again.