Horse racing is an equestrian performance sport, typically involving
two or more horses ridden by jockeys or driven over a set distance for
competition. It is one of the most ancient of all sports and its basic
premise – to identify which of two or more horses is the fastest
over a set course or distance – has remained unchanged since the
Horse races vary widely in format. Often, countries have developed
their own particular horse racing traditions. Variations include
restricting races to particular breeds, running over obstacles,
running over different distances, running on different track surfaces
and running in different gaits.
While horses are sometimes raced purely for sport, a major part of
horse racing's interest and economic importance lies in the gambling
associated with it, an activity that in 2008 generated a worldwide
market worth around US$115 billion.
2 Types of horse racing
2.1 Flat racing
2.2 Jump racing
2.3 Endurance racing
3.2 Arabian horse
3.3 Quarter Horse
Horse breeds and muscle structure
Horse racing by continent
5.1 North America
5.1.1 United States
5.2.2 Czech Republic
5.2.4 Great Britain
5.3.2 New Zealand
5.4.2 South Africa
5.5.2 Hong Kong
5.5.11 South Korea
5.5.12 United Arab Emirates
5.6 South America
9 See also
Riderless Racers at Rome by Théodore Géricault
Horse racing at Apsley House, London c.1850's
Horse racing has a long and distinguished history and has been
practised in civilisations across the world since ancient times.
Archaeological records indicate that horse racing occurred in Ancient
Greece, Babylon, Syria, and Egypt. It also plays an important part
of myth and legend, such as the contest between the steeds of the god
Odin and the giant
Hrungnir in Norse mythology.
Chariot racing was one of the most popular ancient Greek, Roman and
Byzantine sports. Both chariot and mounted horse racing were events in
the ancient Greek Olympics by 648 BC and were important in the
other Panhellenic Games. This was despite the fact that chariot racing
was often dangerous to both driver and horse as they frequently
suffered serious injury and even death. In the Roman Empire, chariot
and mounted horse racing were major industries, and from the
mid-fifteenth century until 1882, spring carnival in Rome closed with
a horse race. Fifteen to 20 riderless horses, originally imported from
Barbary Coast of North Africa, ran the length of the Via del
Corso, a long, straight city street, in about 2½ minutes.
In later times,
Thoroughbred racing became, and remains, popular with
the aristocrats and royalty of British society, earning it the title
Sport of Kings".
Historically, equestrians honed their skills through games and races.
Equestrian sports provided entertainment for crowds and honed the
excellent horsemanship that was needed in battle.
Horse racing of all
types evolved from impromptu competitions between riders or drivers.
The various forms of competition, requiring demanding and specialized
skills from both horse and rider, resulted in the systematic
development of specialized breeds and equipment for each sport. The
popularity of equestrian sports through the centuries has resulted in
the preservation of skills that would otherwise have disappeared after
horses stopped being used in combat.
Types of horse racing
There are many different types of horse racing, including:
Flat racing, where horses gallop directly between two points around a
straight or oval track.
Jump racing, or Jumps racing, also known as
Steeplechasing or, in the
UK and Ireland, National Hunt racing, where horses race over
Harness racing, where horses trot or pace while pulling a driver in a
Endurance racing, where horses travel across country over extreme
distances, generally ranging from 25 to 100 miles (40 to 161 km)
Different breeds of horses have developed that excel in each of the
specific disciplines. Breeds that are used for flat racing include the
Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, Arabian, Paint, and Appaloosa. Jump
racing breeds include the
Thoroughbred and AQPS. In harness racing,
Standardbreds are used in Australia,
New Zealand and North America,
when in Europe, Russian and
French Trotter are used with Standardbred.
Light cold blood horses, such as Finnhorses and Scandinavian coldblood
trotter are also used in harness racing within their respective
There also are races for ponies: both flat and jump and harness
Main article: Flat racing
Flat racing is the most common form of racing seen worldwide. Flat
racing tracks are typically oval in shape and are generally level,
although in Great Britain and Ireland there is much greater variation,
including figure of eight tracks like Windsor and tracks with often
severe gradients and changes of camber, such as Epsom Racecourse.
Track surfaces vary, with turf most common in Europe, dirt more common
in North America and Asia, and newly designed synthetic surfaces, such
as Polytrack or Tapeta, seen at some tracks.
Individual flat races are run over distances ranging from 440 yards
(400 m) up to two and a half miles, with distances between five
and twelve furlongs being most common. Short races are generally
referred to as "sprints", while longer races are known as "routes" in
United States or "staying races" in Europe. Although fast
acceleration ("a turn of foot") is usually required to win either type
of race, in general sprints are seen as a test of speed, while long
distance races are seen as a test of stamina. The most prestigious
flat races in the world, such as the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe,
Japan Cup, Epsom Derby,
Kentucky Derby and Dubai World
Cup, are run over distances in the middle of this range and are seen
as tests of both speed and stamina to some extent.
In the most prestigious races, horses are generally allocated the same
weight to carry for fairness, with allowances given to younger horses
and female horses running against males. These races are called
conditions races and offer the biggest purses. There is another
category of races called handicap races where each horse is assigned a
different weight to carry based on its ability. Beside the weight
they carry, horses' performance can also be influenced by position
relative to the inside barrier (post position), gender, jockey, and
Main articles: National Hunt racing, Steeplechasing, and Hurdling
Jump (or jumps) racing in Great Britain and Ireland is known as
National Hunt racing (although, confusingly,
National Hunt racing also
includes flat races taking place at jumps meetings; these are known as
National Hunt flat races).
Jump racing can be subdivided into
steeplechasing and hurdling, according to the type and size of
obstacles being jumped. The word "steeplechasing" can also refer
collectively to any type of jump race in certain racing jurisdictions,
particularly in the United States.
Typically, horses progress to bigger obstacles and longer distances as
they get older, so that a European jumps horse will tend to start in
National Hunt flat races as a juvenile, move on to hurdling after a
year or so, and then, if thought capable, move on to steeplechasing.
Main article: Endurance riding
The length of an endurance race varies greatly. Some are very short,
only ten miles, while others can be up to one hundred miles. There are
a few races that are even longer than one hundred miles and last
multiple days. These different lengths of races are divided into
five categories: pleasure rides (10–20 miles), non-competitive trail
rides (21–27 miles), competitive trail rides (20–45 miles),
progressive trail rides (25–60 miles), and endurance rides (40–100
miles in one day, up to 250 miles (400 km) in multiple days).
Because each race is very long, trails of natural terrain are
Contemporary organized endurance racing began in
1955, and the first race marked the beginning of the Tevis Cup
This race was a one-hundred-mile, one-day-long ride starting in Squaw
Valley, Placer County, and ending in Auburn. Founded in 1972, the
American Endurance Ride Conference was the United States' first
national endurance riding association. The longest endurance race
in the world is the
Mongol Derby, which is 1,000 km (620 mi)
Suffolk Downs starting gate, East Boston, Massachusetts
In most horse races, entry is restricted to certain breeds; that is,
the horse must have a sire (father) and a dam (mother) who are
studbook-approved individuals of whatever breed is racing.[citation
needed] For example, in a normal harness race, the horse's sire and
dam must both be pure Standardbreds. The exception to this is in
Horse racing, where an Appendix Quarter
Horse may be
considered eligible to race against (standard) Quarter Horses. The
designation of "Appendix" refers to the addendum section, or Appendix,
of the Official Quarter
Horse registry. An Appendix Quarter
Horse is a
horse that has either one Quarter
Horse parent and one parent of any
other eligible breed (such as Thoroughbred, the most common Appendix
cross), two parents that are registered Appendix Quarter Horses, or
one parent that is a Quarter
Horse and one parent that is an Appendix
Quarter Horse. AQHA also issues a "
Racing Register of Merit," which
allows a horse to race on Quarter
Horse tracks, but not be considered
Horse for breeding purposes (unless other requirements are
A stallion who has won many races may be put up to stud when he is
Artificial insemination and embryo transfer technology
(allowed only in some breeds) has brought changes to the traditions
and ease of breeding.
Pedigrees of stallions are recorded in various books and websites,
such as Weatherbys Stallion Book, the Australian Stud Book and
Thoroughbred Heritage.
Main article: Thoroughbred
There are three founding sires that all Thoroughbreds can trace back
to in the male line: the Darley Arabian, the Godolphin Arabian, and
the Byerly Turk, named after their respective owners Thomas Darley,
Lord Godolphin, and Captain Robert Byerly. They were taken to England,
where they were mated with mares from English and imported
bloodlines. The resultant foals were the first generation of
Thoroughbreds, and all modern Thoroughbreds trace back to them.
Thoroughbreds range in height, which is measured in hands (a hand
being four inches). Some are as small as 15 hands while others are
over 17. Thoroughbreds can travel medium distances at fast paces,
requiring a balance between speed and endurance. Thoroughbreds may be
bay, black, dark bay/brown, chestnut, gray, roan, white or palomino.
Artificial insemination, cloning and embryo transfer are not allowed
Main article: Arabian horse
Arabian horse was developed by the Bedouin people of the Middle
East specifically for stamina over long distances, so they could
outrun their enemies. It was not until 1725 that the Arabian was
introduced into the United States. Arabians appeared in the United
States in colonial times, though were not bred as purebreds until
about the time of the Civil War. Until the formation of the Arabian
Horse Registry of America in 1908, Arabians were recorded with the
Jockey Club in a separate subsection from Thoroughbreds.
Arabians must be able to withstand traveling long distances at a
moderate pace. They have an abundance of type I muscle fibers,
enabling their muscles to work for extended periods of time. Also, the
muscles of the Arabian are not nearly as massive as those of the
Quarter Horse, which allow it to travel longer distances at quicker
speeds. The Arabian is primarily used today in endurance racing, but
is also raced over traditional race tracks in many countries.
Racing is governed by the International Federation of
Main article: American Quarter Horse
The ancestors of the Quarter
Horse were prevalent in America in the
early 17th century. These horses were a blend of Colonial Spanish
horses crossed with English horses that were brought over in the
1700s. The native horse and the English horse were bred together,
resulting in a compact, muscular horse. At this time, they were mainly
used for chores such as plowing and cattle work. The American Quarter
Horse was not recognized as an official breed until the formation of
the American Quarter
Horse Association in 1940.
In order to be successful in racing, Quarter Horses need to be able to
propel themselves forward at extremely fast sprinter speed. The
Horse has much larger hind limb muscles than the Arabian,
which make it less suitable for endurance racing. It also has more
type II-b muscle fibers, which allow the Quarter
Horse to accelerate
Horse racing began, it was very expensive to lay a full
mile of track so it was agreed that a straight track of four hundred
meters, or one quarter of a mile, would be laid instead. It became
the standard racing distance for Quarter Horses and inspired their
name. With the exception of the longer, 870-yard (800 m) distance
Horse races are run flat out, with the horses
running at top speed for the duration. There is less jockeying for
position, as turns are rare, and many races end with several
contestants grouped together at the wire. The track surface is similar
to that of
Thoroughbred racing and usually consists of dirt.
In addition to the three main racing breeds above and their crosses,
horse racing may be conducted using various other breeds: Appaloosa,
American Paint Horse, mules, Selle Français, AQPS and Korean
Horse breeds and muscle structure
Muscles are bundles of contractile fibers that are attached to bones
by tendons. These bundles have different types of fibers within them,
and horses have adapted over the years to produce different amounts of
these fibers. Type II-b fibers are fast twitch fibers. These fibers
allow muscles to contract quickly, resulting in a great deal of power
and speed. Type I fibers are slow-twitch fibers. They allow muscles to
work for longer periods of time resulting in greater endurance. Type
II-a fibers are intermediate, representing a balance between the
fast-twitch fibers and the slow-twitch fibers. They allow the muscles
to generate both speed and endurance. Type I muscle fibers are adapted
for aerobic exercise and rely on the presence of oxygen. Type II
muscles are needed for anaerobic exercise because they can function in
the absence of oxygen. Thoroughbreds possess more type II-a muscle
fibers than Quarter Horses or Arabians. This type of fiber allows them
to propel themselves forward at great speeds and maintain it for an
The Epsom Derby; painting by James Pollard, c. 1840
The conditioning program for the different horses varies depending on
the race length. Genetics, training, age, and skeletal soundness are
all factors that contribute to a horse's performance. The muscle
structure and fiber type of horses depends on the breed; therefore,
genetics must be considered when constructing a conditioning plan. A
horse's fitness plan must be coordinated properly in order to prevent
injury or lameness. If these are to occur, they may negatively affect
a horse's willingness to learn. Sprinting exercises are
appropriate for training two-year-old racehorses, but the number is
limited by psychological factors as well as physical. A horse's
skeletal system adapts to the exercise it receives. Because the
skeletal system does not reach full maturity until the horse is at
least four years of age, young racehorses often suffer injuries.
Horse racing by continent
Horse racing in the United States
In the United States,
Thoroughbred flat races are run on surfaces of
either dirt, synthetic or turf. Other tracks offer Quarter Horse
Standardbred racing, on combinations of these three types
of racing surfaces.
Racing of other breeds, such as Arabian horse
racing, is found on a limited basis. American
Thoroughbred races are
run at a wide variety of distances, most commonly from 5 to 12
furlongs (0.63 to 1.50 mi; 1.0 to 2.4 km); with this in
mind, breeders of
Thoroughbred race horses attempt to breed horses
that excel at a particular distance (see dosage index).
Horse racing in the
United States and on the North American continent
dates back to 1665, which saw the establishment of the Newmarket
course in Salisbury, New York, a section of what is now known as the
Hempstead Plains of Long Island, New York. This first racing meet
in North America was supervised by New York's colonial governor,
Richard Nicolls. The area is now occupied by the present Nassau
County, New York, region of Greater Westbury and East Garden City. The
South Westbury section is still known as Salisbury.
The first record of quarter mile length races dated back to 1674 in
Henrico County, Virginia. Each race consisted of only two horses, and
they raced down the village streets and lanes. The Quarter Horse
received its name from the length of the race.
American Stud Book
American Stud Book was started in 1868, prompting the beginning of
organized horse racing in the United States. There were 314 tracks
operating in the
United States by 1890; and in 1894, the American
Jockey Club was formed.
Pleasanton Fairgrounds Racetrack at the Alameda County Fairgrounds
is the oldest remaining horse racing track in America, dating back
to 1858, when it was founded by the sons of the Spaniard Don Agustin
Horse racing at Jacksonville, Alabama, 1841
Belmont Park is located at the western edge of the Hempstead Plains.
Its mile-and-a-half main track is the largest dirt
course in the world, and it has the sport's largest grandstand.
One of the latest major horse track opened in the
United States was
the Meadowlands Racetrack, opened in 1977 for
Thoroughbred racing. It
is the home of the Meadowlands Cup. Other more recently opened tracks
include Remington Park, Oklahoma City, opened in 1988, and Lone Star
Park in the Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex, opened in 1997; the latter
track hosted the prestigious
Breeders' Cup series of races in 2004.
Thoroughbred horse racing in the
United States has its own Hall of
Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York. The Hall of Fame honors remarkable
horses, jockeys, owners, and trainers.
The traditional high point of US horse racing is the Kentucky Derby,
held on the first Saturday of May at
Churchill Downs in Louisville,
Kentucky. Together, the Derby; the Preakness Stakes, held two weeks
Pimlico Race Course
Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland; and the Belmont
Stakes, held three weeks after the Preakness at
Belmont Park on Long
Island, form the Triple Crown of
three-year-olds. They are all held early in the year, throughout May
and the beginning of June. In recent years the
Breeders' Cup races,
run at the end of the year, have challenged the Triple Crown events as
determiners of the three-year-old champion. The
Breeders' Cup is
normally held at a different track every year; however, the 2010 and
2011 editions were both held at Churchill Downs, and the 2012, 2013
and 2014 races were held at Santa Anita Park. Keeneland, in Lexington,
Kentucky, hosted the 2015 Breeders' Cup.
Standardbred event is the Breeders Crown. There are
Triple Crown of Harness Racing for Pacers and a Triple Crown of
Racing for Trotters.
For Arabians, there is the Arabian Triple Crown, consisting of
Drinkers of the Wind Derby in California, the Texas Six Shooter
Stakes, and the Bob Magness Derby in Delaware.
American betting on horse racing is sanctioned and regulated by the
state where the race is located. Simulcast betting exists across
state lines with minimal oversight except the companies involved
through legalized parimutuel gambling. A takeout, or "take", is
removed from each betting pool and distributed according to state law,
among the state, race track and horsemen. A variety of factors affect
takeout, namely location and the type of wager that is placed. One
form of parimutuel gaming is Instant Racing, in which players bet on
video replays of races.
Advanced Deposit Wagering is a form of gambling on the outcome of
horse races in which the bettor must fund his or her account before
being allowed to place bets. ADW is often conducted online or by
phone. In contrast to ADW, credit shops allow wagers without advance
funding; accounts are settled at month-end. Racetrack owners, horse
trainers and state governments sometimes receive a cut of ADW
The most famous horse from Canada is generally considered to be
Northern Dancer, who after winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and
Queen's Plate in 1964 went on to become the most successful
Thoroughbred sire of the twentieth century; his two-minute-flat Derby
was the fastest on record until Secretariat in 1973. The only
challenger to his title of greatest Canadian horse would be his son
Nijinsky II, who is the last horse to win the English Triple Crown.
Woodbine Racetrack (1956) in Toronto is home of the Queen's Plate
(1860), Canada's premier
Thoroughbred stakes race, and the North
America Cup (1984), Canada's premier
Standardbred stakes race. It is
the only race track in North America which stages
Standardbred (harness) meetings on the same day. The Canadian
Woodbine Mile (1981) are Canada's most important
Grade I races worth C$1,000,000 each, and have been won by many
renowned horses such as Secretariat and
Wise Dan respectively. Other
key races include
Woodbine Oaks (1956),
Prince of Wales Stakes
Prince of Wales Stakes (1929),
Breeders' Stakes (1889) and
Canadian Derby (1930).
Horse racing in Sweden, c. 1555
Horse racing in Belgium takes place at three venues - Hippodrome
Ostend (opened in 1883 in honour of Arthur Wellesley,
1st Duke of Wellington),
Hippodroom Waregem in
Hippodrome de Wallonie in Mons, Wallonia.
There are 15 racecourses in the Czech Republic, most notably Pardubice
Racecourse, where the country's most famous race, the Velka Pardubicka
steeplechase, has been run since 1874. Since 1907 races have also
held on a central racecourse in Prague, Velka Chuchle.[citation
needed] However, the first official race was organized back in 1816 by
Emperor Francis II near Kladruby nad Labem. The Czech horse racing
season usually starts at the beginning of April and ends some time in
Racing takes place mostly at weekends and there is usually
one meeting on a Saturday and one on Sunday.
Horse races, as well
Thoroughbred horse breeding, is organized by
Jockey Club Czech
Republic, founded in 1919.
See also: List of French flat horse races, Category:
Horse racing in
France, and French flat racing Champion Jockey
France has a major horse racing industry. It is home to the famous
Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe held at Longchamp Racecourse, the richest
race in Europe and the second richest turf race in the world after the
Japan Cup, with a prize of 4 million Euros (approximately US$5.2
million). Other major races include the Grand Prix de Paris, the Prix
Jockey Club (the French Derby) and the Prix de Diane. Besides
Longchamp, France's other premier flat racecourses include Chantilly
and Deauville. There is also a smaller but nevertheless important
jumps racing sector, with Auteil Racecourse being the most well known.
The sport's governing body is France Galop.
Main article: Horseracing in Great Britain
Horseracing in Scotland
Horseracing in Scotland and Horseracing in Wales
1890 engraving of horses jumping the
Becher's Brook fence in the Grand
National. With treacherous fences combined with the distance (over 4
miles), the race has been called "the ultimate test of horse and
Horse racing in Great Britain is predominantly thoroughbred flat and
jumps racing. It was in Great Britain in the 17th to 19th centuries
that many of the sport's rules and regulations were established. Named
after Edward Smith-Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby, The Derby was first
run in 1780. The race serves as the middle leg of the British Triple
Crown, preceded by the
2000 Guineas and followed by the St Leger.
The name "Derby" has since become synonymous with great races all over
the world, and as such has been borrowed many times in races
Grand National is the most prominent race in British culture,
watched by many people who do not normally watch or bet on horse
racing at other times of the year. Many of the sport's greatest
jockeys, most notably Sir Gordon Richards, have been British. The
sport is regulated by the British Horseracing Authority. The BHA's
authority does not extend to Northern Ireland; racing in Ireland is
governed on an
Despite having an ancient tradition with well-documented history, all
racetracks in Greece have ceased operation due to the Greek
Hungary has a long-standing horse racing tradition. The first horse
racing in Pest was noted June 6, 1827. Although
racing in Hungary is neither as popular nor as prestigious as it is in
Western Europe, the country is notable for producing some fine
international racehorses. Foremost of these is Kincsem, foaled in 1874
and the most successful
Thoroughbred race horse ever, having won 54
races in 54 starts. The country also produced Overdose, a horse who
won his first 12 races, including group races in
Germany and Italy,
and finished fourth in the
King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Ireland has a rich history of horse racing; point to pointing
originated there, and even today, jump racing is more popular than
racing on the flat. As a result, every year Irish horse racing fans
travel in huge numbers to the highlight event of the National Hunt
calendar, the Cheltenham Festival, and in recent years Irish owned or
bred horses have dominated the event. Ireland has a
Thoroughbred breeding industry, stimulated by favourable tax
treatment. The world's largest
Thoroughbred stud farm, Coolmore Stud,
has its main site there (in addition to major operations in the U.S.
In recent years, Irish bred and trained horses have enjoyed
considerable success in major races worldwide. Various horses achieved
victory in one or more of the British 2000 Guineas, The Derby and the
Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, considered the three most prestigious races
in Europe. In the six runnings of the
Epsom Derby between 2008 and
2013, Irish horses filled 20 of the first 30 placings, winning the
race 5 times.
See also: List of horse races in Italy
Italy has been one of the leading European horse racing
nations, albeit some respects behind Great Britain, Ireland and France
in size and prestige. The late Italian horse breeder Federico Tesio
was particularly notable. In recent years, however, the sport in the
country has suffered a major funding crisis, culminating in its
expulsion from the European Pattern.
Eclipse, an undefeated British racehorse and outstanding sire.
Wassenaar in the Hague there is a grass course at Duindigt.
"First regular horse racing on
Pola Mokotowskie in Warsaw" January
Horse racing in Poland can be dated to 1777, when a horse owned by
Polish noble Kazimierz Rzewuski beat the horse of the English chargé
d'affaires, Sir Charles Whitworth, on the road from
Wola to Ujazdów
Castle. The first regular horse racing was organized in 1841 on
Mokotów Fields in
Warsaw by Towarzystwo Wyścigów Konnych i Wystawy
Zwierząt Gospodarskich w Królestwie Polskim (in English, the Society
Racing in Congress Poland). The main racetrack in Poland is
Warsaw's Służewiec Racecourse. The industry was severely limited
Communist era, when gambling, the major source of funding,
was made illegal.
Thoroughbred racing in
Harness racing in
Tambo Valley Picnic Races, Victoria,
Horse racing in
Australia was founded during the early years of
settlement and the industry has grown to be among the top three
Thoroughbred racing nations of the world. The world-famous
Melbourne Cup, the race that stops a nation, has recently attracted
many international entries. In country racing, records indicate that
Goulburn commenced racing in 1834. Australia's first country
racing club was established at Wallabadah in 1852 and the Wallabadah
Cup is still held on New Year's Day (the current racecourse was built
In Australia, the most famous racehorse was
Phar Lap (bred in New
Zealand), who raced from 1928 to 1932.
Phar Lap carried 9 st 12 lb
(62.5 kg) to win the 1930 Melbourne Cup. Australian steeplechaser
Crisp is remembered for his battle with Irish champion
Red Rum in the
1973 Grand National. In 2003–2005 the mare
Makybe Diva (bred in
Great Britain) became the only racehorse to ever win the Melbourne Cup
three times, let alone in consecutive years. In harness racing, Cane
Smoke had 120 wins, including 34 in a single season, Paleface Adios
became a household name during the 1970s, while Cardigan Bay, a pacing
horse from New Zealand, enjoyed great success at the highest levels of
American harness racing in the 1960s. More recently,
Blacks A Fake has
Inter Dominion Championships, making him the only horse to
complete this feat in Australasia's premier harness race.
Competitive endurance riding commenced in
Australia in 1966, when the
Tom Quilty Gold Cup was first held in the Hawkesbury district, near
Sydney, New South Wales. The Quilty Cup is considered the National
endurance ride and there are now over 100 endurance events contested
across Australia, ranging in distances from 80 km to
400 km. The world's longest endurance ride is the Shahzada
400 km Memorial Test which is conducted over five days travelling
80 kilometres a day at St Albans on the Hawkesbury River, New South
Wales. In all endurance events there are rigorous vet checks,
conducted before, during and after the competition, in which the
horses' welfare is of the utmost concern.
Thoroughbred racing in
New Zealand and Harness racing
in New Zealand
Racing is a long-established sport in New Zealand, stretching back to
Horse racing is a significant part of the
New Zealand economy which in
2004 generated 1.3% of the GDP. The indirect impact of expenditures on
racing was estimated to have generated more than $1.4 billion in
economic activity in 2004 and created 18,300 full-time equivalent
jobs. More than 40,000 people were involved in some capacity in the
New Zealand racing industry in 2004. In 2004, more than one million
people attended race meetings in New Zealand. There are 69
Thoroughbred and 51 harness clubs licensed in New Zealand. Racecourses
are situated in 59 locations throughout New Zealand.
The bloodstock industry is important to New Zealand, with the export
sale of horses – mainly to
Australia and Asia – generating more
than $120 million a year. During the 2008–09 racing season 19 New
Zealand bred horses won 22 Group One races around the world.
Notable racehorses from
New Zealand include Cardigan Bay, Carbine,
Desert Gold and Rising Fast.
Phar Lap and
Tulloch were both bred in
New Zealand but did not race there. The most
famous of these is probably Cardigan Bay.
Stanley Dancer drove the New
Zealand bred horse, Cardigan Bay to win $1 million in stakes in 1968,
the first harness horse to surpass that milestone in American
Maiden Cup 2006 - To The Line, winner of the race
On 25 June 1812, the
Champ de Mars Racecourse
Champ de Mars Racecourse was inaugurated by The
Mauritius Turf Club which was founded earlier in the same year by
Colonel Edward A. Draper. The Champ de Mars is situated on a
prestigious avenue in Port Louis, the capital city and is the oldest
racecourse in the southern hemisphere. The
Mauritius Turf Club is the
third oldest active turf club in the world.
Undeniably, racing is one of the most popular sports in
attracting regular crowds of 20,000 people or more to the only
racecourse of the island.
A high level of professionalism has been attained in the organisation
of races over the last decades preserving the unique electrifying
ambiance prevailing on race days at the Champ de Mars.
Champ de Mars has four classic events a year such as: Duchess of York
Cup, Barbé Cup, Maiden Cup and the Duke of York Cup.
Most of the horses are imported from
South Africa but some are also
acquired from Australia, the United Kingdom and
Horse racing is a popular sport in
South Africa that can be traced
back to 1797. The first recorded race club meeting took place five
years later in 1802. The national horse racing body is known as
National Horseracing Authority
National Horseracing Authority and was founded in 1882. The
premier event, which attracts 50,000 people to Durban, is the Durban
July Handicap, which has been run since 1897 at Greyville Racecourse.
It is the largest and most prestigious event on the continent, with
betting running into the hundreds of millions of Rands. Several July
winners have gone on to win major international races, such as
Colorado King, London News, and Ipi Tombe. However, the other
notable major races are the Summer Cup, held at Turffontein Racecourse
in Johannesburg, and The Sun Met, which is held at Kenilworth race
track in Cape Town.
Horse racing in one form or another has been a part of Chinese culture
Horse racing was a popular pastime for the aristocracy
at least by the
Zhou Dynasty - 4th century B.C. General Tian Ji's
strategem for a horse race remains perhaps the best known story about
horse racing in that period. In the 18th and 19th centuries, horse
racing and equestrian sports in
China was dominated by Mongol
Thoroughbred horse racing came to
China with British settlements in
the middle 1800s and most notably centered around the treaty ports,
including the two major race courses in Shanghai, the Shanghai
Racecourse and the International Recreation Grounds (in Kiang-wan),
and the racecourses of Tianjin. The Kiang-wan racecourse was destroyed
in the lead-up to the
Second Sino-Japanese War
Second Sino-Japanese War and the
Club closed in 1954. The former
Shanghai Racecourse is now People's
Square and People's Park and the former club building was the Shanghai
Hong Kong and
Special Administrative Region, they're
allowed to exemption from ban of gambling on mainland China. (See
Horse racing was banned in the Republic of
China from 1945, and the
People's Republic of
China maintained the ban after 1949, although
allowances were made for ethnic minority peoples for whom horse sports
are a cultural tradition. Speed horse racing (速度赛马) was an
event in the National Games of China, mainly introduced to cater for
minority peoples, such as the Mongols. The race course was initially
5 km, but from 2005 (the 10th National Games) was extended to
12 km. The longer race led to deaths and injuries to
participating horses in both 2005 and the 11th National Games in 2009.
Also, with the entry into the sport of Han majority provinces such as
Hubei, which are better funded and used Western, rather than
traditional, breeding and training techniques, meant that the original
purpose of the event to foster traditional horse racing for groups
Mongols was at risk of being usurped. At the 2009 National
Hubei won both the gold and silver medals, with Inner Mongolia
winning bronze. As a result of these factors, the event was abolished
for the 12th National Games in 2013.
Club horse racing reappeared on a small scale in the 1990s. In 2008,
Horse Race Open in
Wuhan was organized as the
qualification round for the speed horse race event at the National
Games the next year, but was also seen by commentators as a step
towards legalizing both horse racing and gambling on the races.
Wuhan Racecourse was the only racecourse that organized races in
China. In 2014, the
Jockey Club organized more than 80
races. Almost all Chinese trainers and jockeys stabled in Wuhan.
However, with the demise of the event at the National Games and the
government not relenting from the ban on commercial racing, various
racecourses built in recent years are all in a state of disuse: The
Nanjing Racecourse, which previously hosted National Games equestrian
events, is now used as a car park; the Beijing
Jockey Club was
shut down in 2008. The racecourse in
Inner Mongolia has not been
active after 2012.
Horse racing eventually returned to mainland
China on year 2014 as
one-day, five-card event for foreign horses, trainers and jockeys.
Happy Valley Racecourse
Happy Valley Racecourse in
Hong Kong at night
The British tradition of horse racing left its mark with the creation
of one of the most important entertainment and gambling institutions
in Hong Kong. Established as the Royal
Jockey Club in 1884,
the non-profit organisation conducts nearly 700 races every season at
the two race tracks in Happy Valley and Sha Tin.
All horses are imported since there is no breeding operation. The
sport annually draws millions of dollars of tax revenue. Off-track
betting is available from overseas bookmakers.
Jockey Club of
Macau was established for harness racing. It started to
conduct horse races in 1989.
Horse racing in India
Mysore Turf Club
Horse racing in India is over 200 years old, making India quite
possibly the oldest racing jurisdiction in Asia where racing was
conducted under rules. India's first racecourse was
set up in Madras in 1777. Today India has a very well established
racing and breeding industry, and the sport is conducted on nine
racetracks by seven racing authorities.
Main article: Horseracing in Japan
Nakayama Racecourse in Funabashi, Japan
Japan has two governing bodies that control its horseracing - the
Japan Racing Association (JRA), and National Association of Racing
(NAR). Between them they conduct more than 21,000 horse races a year.
The JRA is responsible for 'Chuo Keiba' (meaning 'central horse
racing'), taking place on the ten main Japanese tracks. The NAR,
meanwhile, is responsible for 'Chihou Keiba' (meaning 'local horse
Japan is mainly flat racing, but
Japan also has
jump racing and a sled-pulling race known as
Ban'ei (also called Draft
Japan's top stakes races are run in the spring, autumn, and winter.
These include the country's most prominent race - the Grade 1 Japan
Cup, a 2,400 m (about 1½ mile) invitational turf race run every
Tokyo Racecourse for a purse of ¥476 million (about
US$5.6 million), currently the richest turf race in the world. Other
noted stakes races include the February Stakes, Takamatsunomiya Kinen,
Yasuda Kinen, Takarazuka Kinen, Arima Kinen, and the
Tenno Sho races
run in the spring and fall. Japan's top jump race is the Nakayama
Grand Jump, run every April at Nakayama Racecourse.
In Malaysia, horse racing was introduced during the British colonial
era and remains to the present day as a gambling activity. There are
three race courses in Malaysia, namely Penang Turf Club, Perak Turf
Club and Selangor Turf Club. Within and only within the turf clubs,
betting on horse racing is a legal form of gambling.
Singapore is conducted and governed under the Rules of
Racing Association and betting in
Malaysia is operated and
organized by Pan Malaysian Pools Sdn Bhd.
Mongolian horse racing takes place during the
Mongolia does not have
Thoroughbred horse racing. Rather, it has its
own Mongolian style of horse racing in which the horses run for at
least a distance of 25 kilometers.
Horse races are held in
Pakistan at four different clubs. In Lahore at
Lahore Race Club, Rawalpindi at Chakri, in Karachi at Karachi Race
Club and in Gujrat at Gujrat Race Club.
Main article: Horseracing in the Philippines
Horseracing in the Philippines
Horseracing in the Philippines began in 1867. The history of
Philippine horseracing has three divisions according to the breeds of
horses used. They are the Philippine-pony era (1867-1898), the
Arabian-horse era (1898-1930), and the Thoroughbred-era
Horse racing was introduced to
Singapore by the British during the
colonial era and remained one of the legal forms of gambling after
independence. It remains a highly popular form of entertainment with
the local Singaporean community to this day. Races are typically held
on Friday evenings and Sundays at the
Singapore Turf Club in Kranji.
Horse racing has also left its mark in the naming of roads in
Singapore such as Race Course Road in Little India, where horse racing
was first held in Singapore, and Turf Club Road in
Bukit Timah where
Singapore Turf Club used to be situated before moving to its current
location in 1999.
Horse racing in South Korea
Horse racing in South Korea dates back to May 1898, when a foreign
language institute run by the government included a donkey race in its
athletic rally. However, it wasn't until the 1920s that modern horse
racing involving betting developed. The nation's first authorised
club, the Chosun
Racing Club, was established in 1922 and a year
later, the pari-mutuel betting system was officially adopted for the
Korean War disrupted the development of horse racing in the
country, but after the
Seoul Olympics in 1988, the Olympic Equestrian
Park was converted into racing facilities named Seoul Race Park, which
helped the sport to develop again.
United Arab Emirates
The big race in the UAE is the Dubai World Cup, a race with a purse of
US$10 million, which was the largest purse in the world until being
surpassed by the Pegasus World Cup, an American race with a $12
million purse that held its first edition in 2017. Other races include
Dubai Kahayla Classic with a purse of US$250,000.
The Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, reported to be the world's largest
race track, opened on March 27, 2010 for the
Dubai World Cup
Dubai World Cup race. The
race track complex contains two tracks with seating for 60,000, a
hotel, restaurants, theater and museum.
There is no parimutuel betting in the UAE as gambling is illegal.
In Argentina the sport is known as turf. Some of the most famous
racers are Irineo Leguisamo, Vilmar Sanguinetti, Marina Lezcano, Jorge
Valdivieso, Pablo Falero and Jorge Ricardo. The Carlos Gardel's tango
Por una cabeza
Por una cabeza is about horse racing, sport of which he was a known
fan. Gardel was a good friend of Irineo Leguisamo, who is the most
recognized Argentine jockey.
Betting on horse racing
Betting on the Favorite, an 1870 engraving
At many horse races, there is a gambling station, where gamblers can
stake money on a horse.
Gambling on horses is prohibited at some
tracks; Springdale Race Course, home of the nationally renowned
Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD Bank) Carolina Cup and Colonial Cup
Steeplechase in Camden, South Carolina, is known as one of the tracks
where betting is illegal, due to a 1951 law. Where gambling is
allowed, most tracks offer parimutuel betting where gamblers' money is
pooled and shared proportionally among the winners once a deduction is
made from the pool. In some countries, such as the UK, Ireland, and
Australia, an alternative and more popular facility is provided by
bookmakers who effectively make a market in odds. This allows the
gambler to 'lock in' odds on a horse at a particular time (known as
'taking the price' in the UK).
Parimutuel gambling on races also
provides not only purse money to participants but considerable tax
revenue, with over $100 billion wagered annually in 53 countries.
Organized groups dedicated to protecting animals, such as the Humane
Society of the
United States and People for the Ethical Treatment of
Animals, target some horse sports with claims of animal cruelty. Horse
racing and rodeo are most commonly targeted, due both
to their high visibility and to the level of stress and potential
physical dangers to the equines involved. Criticism
of horse racing and its practices runs a wide gamut;[vague] however,
while some may consider even fairly drastic discipline of horses
non-abusive, others may consider abuse to be anything done against the
will of the animal in question. Some people may consider poor living
conditions or use of whip abusive, while some may have concern with
end-use of horses.
In 2009, animal rights group
PETA released undercover video of alleged
abuses of former race horses at a slaughterhouse in Kumamoto, Japan.
The group stated that "as many as 20,000" horses, including former
Thoroughbred race horses, were killed in 2008 in
Japan for use as
human and pet food.(The official figure for 2008 was 15,003
horses.) Based on findings of 2009 and fate of 1986 Kentucky Derby
PETA has called ban for exporting race horses to
Japan, even though the amount of young horses exported to Japan
for racing purposes is insignificant compared to the overall
amount and only adult horses exported to
Japan are breeding
Tony McCoy falls from a horse.
There are many dangers in horse racing for both horse and jockey: a
horse can stumble and fall, or fall when jumping an obstacle, exposing
both jockey and horse to the danger of being trampled and injured.
Anna Waller, a member of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the
University of North Carolina, co-authored a four-year-long study of
jockey injuries and stated to the New York Times that "For every 1,000
jockeys you have riding [for one year], over 600 will have medically
treated injuries." She added that almost 20% of these were serious
head or neck injuries. The study reported 6,545 injuries during the
years 1993–1996. More than 100 jockeys were killed in the US
between 1950 and 1987.
Horses also face dangers in racing. 1.5 horses die out of every 1000
starts in the US. The U.S.
Jockey Club in New York estimates that
about 600 horses died at racetracks in 2006. The
Jockey Club in Hong
Kong reported a far lower figure of .58 horses per 1000 starts. There
is speculation that drugs used in horse racing in the US which are
banned elsewhere are responsible for the higher death rate in the
Horse racing portal
Look up horse racing in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
New Zealand punting glossary
Glossary of North American horse racing
Fully automatic time
List of horse racing tracks
List of jockeys
Going (horse racing)
Horse racing". Archived from the original on 21 December 2013.
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Main articles: Equestrianism
FEI disciplines, Olympic
FEI disciplines, non-Olympic
Thoroughbred horse racing
Equestrian drill team
Games with horses
Carrera de cintas
Corrida de sortija
Draft horse showing
Working stock sports
Acoso y derribo
Deporte de lazo
Saddle bronc and bareback riding
Working cow horse
Cowboy mounted shooting
Horse show and exhibition disciplines
Halter (horse show)
Show hunter (British)
Trail (horse show)
Western riding (horse show)
Regional and breed-specific disciplines
Competitive trail riding
Cross country running
Mountain bike orienteering
Road bicycle racing
Mountain bike racing
Sled dog racing
Open water swimming
Sports car racing
Touring car racing
Stock car racing
Drag boat racing
Jet sprint boat racing
Inshore powerboat racing
Offshore powerboat racing
Radio-controlled car racing
Slot car racing
List of forms of racing