One jockey not shying away from the camera this year was Canadian Chantal Sutherland.
The 36-year-old made history after becoming the first woman to compete in the world's richest horse race, the $10 million Dubai World Cup, in March.
But the model perhaps garnered more attention off the track for her naked photoshoot on a horse in Vanity Fair in June.
Sutherland, who did much to raise the profile of female jockeys in a traditionally male-dominated sport, retired in October. Not just a pretty face, she had more than 900 wins in a career spanning 12 years.
A weighty issue
Sutherland said she was now looking forward to "cutting loose and having a cheeseburger or some pizza."
"Those types of indulgences are not allowed when you constantly have to monitor your weight," she added.
Jockeys are put under enormous pressure to meet miniature weight requirements, with sweat suits, saunas, hot baths and starvation are some of the methods used to keep trim.
But some relief is in sight -- albeit slight -- after the British Horseracing Authority last month raised the minimum weight by two pounds to 8 stone (50 kg), from January next year.
Across the Atlantic, the winner of the United States' premier race, the Kentucky Derby, was denied the chance of a Triple Crown after being forced to retire ahead of the Belmont Stakes.
I'll Have Another developed a foreleg injury that trainer Doug O'Neill described as "freakish."
The three-year-old had been seeking to be the first horse in 34 years to win the treble, having triumphed at the 138th Kentucky showpiece in May and then the Preakness Stakes.
Racing authorities also confirmed that the legendary Secretariat set a record time in winning the 1973 Preakness event, ending a controversy that had lasted almost four decades.
In Australia, the Melbourne Cup was won by a home horse for the first time since 2009 as Green Moon headed off a strong field of "international invaders."
France's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe was won by four-year-old filly Solemia, who denied Japan's Orfevre in his bid to become the first non-European trained victor. Danedream was unable to defend her title due to an outbreak of equine infectious anaemia at the racing yard in the German city of Cologne where she is trained.
Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed celebrated as Mikael Barzalona rode Monterosso to victory in the the emirate's World Cup in April, but the result was somewhat overshadowed by the death of another Godolphin horse, Fox Hunt, in the inaugural Gold Cup held earlier in the meeting.
Weathering the storm
The biggest challenge for the UK racing industry this year? The great British weather -- which forced the cancellation of 119 races up to the start of December.
"After the Diamond Jubilee weekend it didn't stop raining until the end of July," Bazalgette said. "There was a good six weeks when we lost meetings."
Whatever the weather, the outlook looks bright for horse racing in 2013.