Horse racing as we know it today has been present in the world for at least two and a half thousand years. Even in antiquity, all over the Mediterranean, these kinds of races were an important part of its citizen’s lives. In Nordic mythology, racing steeds were a dominant part of the culture. And now, in the 21st century, it’s as popular as ever.
The first human to tame the wild animal was probably considered a madman or a wizard by his tribesman. It happened in Ancient China, around 4500 BC, where the nomadic people first learned how to control and use a horse. In that era, horses were worth way more than gold. More than seven thousands year later, horses still play an important part in our lives. It was the sport of the kings, an instrument to the farmer, a weapon to the warrior.
One of the few legal forms of betting all over the world, horse racing is legal gambling even in The United States. It is one of the most widely watched sports in America, as well as all over the world. Racing popularity is through the roof in countries such as Japan, UK, and the Arab World. There are actually very similar sports that go centuries back in history as well.
Two good examples would be dog races and camel races. Watching a greyhound race across the field is a particular fancy to the Englishmen and in the past the US. Camel races, on the other hand, are very similar to horse racing, albeit with many different nuances. It is majorly popular in the Arab Peninsula, as well as Egypt, and as of late you can Australia to the list. To learn more about it, check out this amazing article by the Arab website: racingssporttalk.com.
It’s a hundred billion dollar industry, spread all over the world. There are so many events held on a yearly basis, it would be impossible for anyone to keep track of them. During the pandemic, many events halted, but some were still aired on TV without spectators.
Thoroughbred Races In The UK
Organized sports were popular in any major civilization, during recorded history, and even before that according to scientific evidence. The Greeks, for example, enjoyed both mounted types of events as well as chariot races. Romans copied their passion for the sport, among millions of other things. When the British empire rose to stand tall, a particular sport of carriage races appeared among the aristocracy. It quickly died out, as it was very dangerous both for the animals and humans. Instead, the modern harness-racing became popular, which featured a very light carriage without an outer framer, looking similar to the chariot. However, these races are held at a significantly slower pace, to avoid the grave consequences of going too fast.
Present-day horse racing culture started sometime around the twelve century AD when the English returned from their crusades in the East. They brought back the fastest horses from the Arab Penisula, and never looked back at their native counterparts, at least for speed. Arab horses were considered the most premium kind of all, with each aristocrat desiring to have one. They were the swiftest of all, and also extremely endurant. During the next five centuries, these horses were largely imported from abroad, because numerous attempts at breeding were only of relative success. At the beginning of the 18th century, the sport became official in the realm of the United Kingdom. The spectators were allowed to wage over their preferred horse, and so was the culture born among the English-speaking world. With large sums of money coming in quickly into the newly found business, horse racing was very profitable, as did breeding and owning horses became quickly. So vast was the expansion of the sport all around England, that in 1750 the Jockey Club was formed, which still guides and governs the sports to this day. They make all of the regulations and watch over the sport for it to be legitimate.
The Jockey Club also controls the breeding industry in the country, with one family (Weatherby’s) keeping records of all racehorses even to this date. The General Studbook, a title released by the agency, lists all the studs that were eligible for racing. All the horses in the UK that partake in the sport can actually be traced to just three breeds. You can read more about this on their official website. It is incredible how the sport has grown by this four-century period, from non-existent to one of the most popular ones in the country.