I actually purchased the game based on the great reviews it got here on this site. I'm happy to confirm all the good things that have been said about it.
The set itself is beautiful. The board is quite large and lavishly illustrated to give the feel of a real racetrack. The 6 horses are each hand-painted! How many games do you see these days with hand-painted pieces? They look like the hand painted cast-iron horses you see in vintage sets of this type. The game also includes an eraseable whiteboard which is used to record the lane assignments, stable entries, and odds on each horse. This is a nice touch. The cards (Race Cards, Lane Cards, and Event Cards) are nicely themed and illustrated. Some color illustrations would have been better, but for everything this game gives you, you really can't complain. To top it all off, the game includes a 6 sided die and a gold pencil for each of 6 players, a huge stack of fake money (from 5,000 to 1,000,000 bills in British Pounds), and a betting pad.
As far as the gameplay goes, it's a simple system that seems to work really well. Each player has six horses that go from stable entry 1 (fastest) to 6 (slowest). Each of these horses runs in one of the six races. The speed difference is created by special spaces on the board that allow "faster" horses to double their rolls by landing on them. Horses are each randomly assigned to a lane - inner lanes are faster (fewer spaces) than outer lanes. Play goes around the table, each player rolling a 6 sided die in turn to determine how far his horse goes. Horses can use their roll to go forward or out lanes (to avoid hedges or other horses). If a 6 is rolled, a horse can go in one lane. The horses continue around the track until 3 of them cross the finish line. The 3 winning players are paid a pre-defined purse according to their horse's place. This sounds pretty simple, and it is. But wait, there's a couple of twists.
First of all, you have a hand of Event Cards which you can play to affect the outcome of the races. Some of them are listed below:
Faller - trips a horse on a specific hedge
Remount - a fallen horse can rejoin the race
Whipped Round - a horse starts the race running backwards!
False Start - all horses return to the starting block
Slipped Up on the Flat - trips a horse not on a hedge
Horse Under Pressure - a horse veers out of control
Stewards Enquiry/Objection - disqualifies a horse after the race (upon a dice throw of doubles)
Second, you have betting. You can bet not only on your own horse, but on other people's horses. The bets are kept secret, so no-one knows who is betting on whose horse. The odds on each horse are derived from a system that basically takes the horse's lane number times its stable entry. So for example stable entry 2 in lane 6 would have 12:1 odds. The system is so simple, but it seems to be fairly accurate.
Between the betting and the event cards, things get pretty nasty as the horses race around the track. Horses trip over hedges, swerve out of control, and are disqualified after a hard fought win. Big money is paid as people cash in on their high stakes bets. The winner of the game can literally change with one well placed bet or devious use of an event card. That's the real magic of the game - it's got a well thought out system with a nice dose of unpredictability thrown in. There are many different betting and playing strategies - some people bet on their own horses, some people bet on other horses, some people make high stakes bets, other play conservatively, etc. The fun of the game is trying to perfect your system, and simultaneously trying to guess and foil everyone else's!
I highly suggest this game - every game I've played so far has been a lot of laughs. Unfortunately it's fairly expensive here in the United States because it's made in the UK with apparently no big distributors here. But you can email the company and they will be happy to refer you to a reseller or to sell you a copy directly. I think it's definitely worth the money.
"And they're off!"