There are few sports that elicit as much excitement as horse racing does. The thunder of hooves on the turf, the gripping adrenaline rush as the jockeys grapple for the inner rail and the flash of the finish line: horse racing is fast, ruthless and unpredictable – and that’s what has made it such a popular sport for centuries past.
Horse racing is one of humanity’s oldest sports: it’s been around since ancient times, but the basic idea behind the race has never changed. It is the testing of two or more horses over a set course or distance, to see which horse is the fastest. This simple premise has kept humanity continuously excited.
Betting has always been closely linked to horse racing. Although the race can be watched purely for the sport, the adrenaline rush of betting on a race is hard to match. Horse races have always been wagered, and the art of betting has evolved along with the evolution of technology.
The internet now makes it possible to enjoy the rush of horse race betting from anywhere in the world. We can enjoy the experience of betting on a horse race without leaving the comfort of our living rooms. The online betting experience can bring you live horse racing betting if you wish, or the exciting online horse race betting on virtual keywords. Click on the affiliate links above to begin your own online horse racing betting experience.
A brief history of horse racing
The earliest instances of horse racing trace the sport back to Ancient Greece, Babylon, Syria and Egypt. Evidence of horse racing can be found in the archaeological records of these times, and horse racing is also talked about in the mythology of these ancient civilisations.
One of the most famous types of horse racing of the ancient world is chariot racing. Chariot racing is no longer a sport that exists, but it is still popular in our contemporary culture through stories and films. This type of racing was extremely dangerous for both horses and riders, and often resulted in extreme injury and sometimes even death. Despite the associated danger, chariot racing was once an extremely popular sport, and featured in the Greek Olympics as far back as 648 BC.
Ancient horse racing, chariot and otherwise, originated as a form of training for horse and rider. Great equestrian skills were needed for riders going into battle, and races alongside other equestrian events were used to test and encourage the development of these skills. It was through competition that equipment and technique for the sport was developed, and horse breeds were systematically improved.
Horse racing in the UK as an established sport can be traced back to the 12th century when English knights returned from their travels with Arabian horses. These Arab horses were bred with English horses to produce the popular thoroughbred horse. The thoroughbred breed still dominates the racing scene today.
Betting and horse racing have been entwined with each other from the beginning of the sport. It’s a mark of how instantly well matched this adrenaline pumping sport of risk and gain is with the system of betting. In the early 12th century, when racing became an established sport in the UK, noblemen began wagering over races. Nowadays you don’t need to be a nobleman to bet on a horse, but it still comes with the same buzz.
Different types of horse race
Horse racing has a long and rich history, and races are run all across the world. Over time, many variations of the sport have been born, and there are many differing types of races. Races are run with different breeds of horse, over different distances, on different track surfaces and with different obstacles. Some races are even run with the horses being restricted to different gates (different ways of moving at different speeds).
The most common form of racing across the world is flat racing. A typical flat racing course is on level ground and an oval shaped track, although there are some variants that race over different gradients or shapes of track. Flat race tracks tend to be between 400m and two and a half miles in length, although tracks that are shorter or longer in length tend to be less common. Short races test the speed of the horse, whereas the longer ones become a test of stamina.
Flat racing is a real test of a horse, their ability, speed and stamina. Because the idea is to test the horse purely on their ability, weight concessions know as handicaps are issued between horses. Handicaps are used to even out the weights that a horse carries for the sake of fairness, a horse with a lighter jockey being asked to carry a heavier handicap. It’s exciting to bet on because a good knowledge of horses and what makes a good racer can help you to make a skilled decision.
Unlike flat races, which rarely exceed two and a half miles in length, endurance races can stretch to lengths of above 100 miles. Because of their length, they generally use courses drawn over natural terrain, rather than purpose-designed race courses. Endurance races test the skill and ability of a rider and horse over long days and miles. Betting on an endurance race is linked to less adrenaline than a flutter on a fast and hard flat race, but they are still exciting and hard to predict.
Jump racing is another popular form of horse racing. Jump racing can be divided into two main categories, steeplechasing and hurdling. Steeplechasing involves longer distances and higher jumps than hurdling, and is generally reserved for the more experienced horses. Jump racing is exciting to watch, it involves a lot of skill from the horse and rider, and there’s potential for lots of things to go wrong. Jump racing is a popular type of race for betting on because of its fiendishly exciting difficulty and the unpredictability of its results. It can often lead to nail-biting finishes and surprising winners.
A less well-known form of horse racing is the harness race, which is more popular in North America, continental Europe and Australia than in the flat racing-dominated UK. In harness racing, a horse must trot or pace while pulling the driver in a sulky (a type of small carriage). The most famous and important harness race in the world is the Prix d’Amérique, which is held in Paris and has a purse of 1 million euros.
Famous races from around the world
- For flat racing, the most famous racecourses in Great Britain are Newmarket, Epsom and Ascot, although some important races are also held at Goodwood, Doncaster, Newbury, Haydock and York. The highest stake flat races in the UK tend to run at around one mile, although the Gold Cup at Ascot race course stretches to an exhausting two miles, four feet. Ascot also hosts the shortest high stake flat race, the King’s Stand Stakes, which runs over only five feet.
- The Kentucky Derby is one of the world’s most famous flat races. It is held once a year in Louisville, Kentucky, and has been running since 1875. The race is commonly referred to as “the most exciting two minutes in sports” due to the general duration of the race. It’s open to three-year-old colts, geldings and fillies who are handicapped according to their genders. Because the Kentucky Derby is one of the most popular races worldwide, it can be difficult to attend in person, but viewing betting is still possible for people worldwide thanks to the development of internet and television viewing services.
- Another famous race is The Royal Ascot week held at the Ascot race course in England. Over Royal Ascot week a series of 16 races are put on, and it’s a special formal affair linked closely with British tradition and the royal family. Royal Ascot has a strict dress code, and a plethora of traditions that must be adhered to. Attendees can enjoy watching military bands and the royal procession, maybe even catching a glance at the Queen and the royal party.
- The world’s most famous jump race also takes place in the UK – the Grand National at Aintree racetrack. Every year, on a Saturday in early April, this gruelling steeplechase is held. A pack of horses are run over this four-mile course which is studded with 30 fences. There are plenty of gut-wrenching, knuckle-biting, adrenaline-fuelled moments to be experienced and it’s probably the most exciting race to sling a bet on, as you never quite know what’s going to happen.
- Less well known on an international scale, but no less exciting, is the Nakayama Grand Jump in Funabashi, Japan. This annual steeplechase has been running since 1999 and draws in thousands of spectators from across Japan. Tickets for attendance are cheap, and the crowd is acknowledged to be fun and family friendly.
- The Dubai World cup is a relative newcomer to the racing scene, but it is also the richest horse race in the world, with a purse of over 10 million dollars for the lucky winner. It began in 1996 at the Meydan Racecourse, which was refurbished in 2010 and is now unarguably one of the world’s fanciest racing courses. It boasts features such as the world’s first track-side hotel.
Betting on a horse race
Betting is an integral part of the horse racing experience. It’s fun, it will get your heart racing, and, from time-to-time, it can really pay off. There are a few basic rules and tips that it’s useful to know before you begin betting, although it’s easy to learn them along the way and still have fun.
If you’re new to horse racing, then you should try and find a bookmakers with a low minimum bet. That way you can get a feel for the races before you start making the riskier, more exciting bets. Sometimes, a £2 flutter can bring as much excitement and adrenaline as a big, all in £200 bet. In the end it’s all about the race. There are plenty of bookmakers out there that allow for low minimum bets, and they should be accessible with minimal research. It is also possible to take advantage of certain offers and place horse racing free bets.
Another suggestion for having fun while staying safe with your finances, is to always bet with the assumption that you’re going to lose. That way you can enjoy the excitement of the odd unexpected win, without the risk of large financial loss if your horse doesn’t come through. Careful budgeting means a flutter on the races is something you can enjoy regularly, and moderation brings as much risk, excitement and possibility of success as excessive betting.
Learning to understand odds can help enormously with first time betting. Usually, odds are expressed as fractions. If you can learn to convert these fractions into numbers – and there are plenty of helpful guides available on the internet, or at your nearest betting shop or book maker – then you’ll be able to figure out how much you stand to win on any given bet, and you can budget your betting accordingly.
It’s also a good idea to check out your horse’s form before you place a bet. You don’t have to view the horse in person to make a guess on how well it’s going to perform. Good sources for information on your chosen horse include the racing section of national newspapers, websites and forums that discuss racing, specialist racing publications and your race card. You should look at how well your horse has done in recent races, and how well it has run against horses it will be competing against in the upcoming race. If possible, looking at the horse itself can also be useful. Keep an eye out for relaxed behaviour, good muscle tone and a shiny coat – all of these pointers are good signs.
Horse race betting online is great fun, you can bet on live horse races, and access some great deals for horse race betting. There are plenty of great horse racing betting sites out there, so it’s worth doing you research.
Enjoy horse racing
Horse racing is a beautiful sport, with a long and exciting history. It’s about fun, about appreciating the power of the horse and the skill of the jockey, about measuring your own ability to predict the race results, and about occasionally coming into wins or losses. Horse racing is becoming more and more accessible to people across the world, and the internet is becoming a very attractive place to get in touch with this marvellous activity.