Horse racing is one of those sports that you never seem to be too far away from, but do you know as much about it as you should? This, after all, is one of the most popular sports in the world and one that has bags of history. While there are plenty of reasons people love horse racing, the most common is simple: people love horses, and always have done! And when you see one running in all its majestic glory, it’s not hard to see why.
But enough about that. Let’s dive into some useful information that all horse racing beginners need to know.
History of Horse Racing
If we can measure a sport’s value by its longevity, then horse racing is very valuable indeed. There’s evidence to suggest that the act of racing horses for sport dates all the way back to 4500BC, where nomadic tribesmen in Central Asia would hold races. Skip forward a few centuries, and horse racing has developed into something far grander. Popular with Europe’s Royal Families, it became known as ‘The Sport of Kings.’ The royal connection continues to this day, especially in the UK, where the Queen’s clan are known as unabashed horse racing aficionados; she even owns horses that compete in the biggest races.
If you watch a few horse races, then sooner or later, you’ll notice that, while each race involves a horse and jockey, how they’re racing seems to be a little different. That’s because there are two different types of horse race: jump racing and flat racing. You can glean the difference between the two by looking at the name. Flat racing takes place on a circuit and is a straightforward ‘who finishes first’ type of race. Jump racing involves, as the name suggests, jumps. Horses have to navigate fences and ditches on their way to glory.
Where to Watch Jump Racing
If you prefer the idea of jump racing more than flat racing, then you’ll have to look to the UK; steeplechase races do happen in the US, but nowhere nearly as extensively as they do across the pond. The most significant jump racing events are The Grand National and the Cheltenham Festival, the two standout equestrian events of the year. The former is an excellent spectator sport, in large part because it’s so unpredictable. The latter is a little more technical, and that makes for better viewing as a beginner. The festival runs over several days, and all the races are shown live, which makes for a great few days of horse racing action. The most important race is the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and by the time that race rolls around, you might just have enough racing knowledge to use a free bet offer to back a winner.
The Biggest Flat Races
The appeal of flat racing is that you get to see the fastest horse really showing off what they’ve got. Jump racing is technical; flat racing is all about speed. Some of the biggest flat races include the Pegasus World Cup (you can win $16 million, making it the most lucrative race in the world) and the iconic Kentucky Derby, which is known as ‘The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports.’ In the UK, the most prestigious flat race is King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes, which occurs at Ascot. It’s not the most famous or the most lucrative, but it’s got a lot of history, and every racehorse owner wants to have that victory on their record.
The Most Famous Racehorses
Even people who have never watched a race have heard of Seabiscuit and Secretariat, two horses that transcended their sport to become national icons in the United States. In the UK, Red Rum is the most famous; he won the acclaimed Grand National three times. When he died, the story was the lead news item on the BBC.
There’s still much to love about horse racing, but the above information will get you started — and ensure you can hold your own in any horse racing conversation!