Horse racing is one of the most ancient sports around. It dates back to about 4500 BC, yet it is still quite popular these days and provides entertainment to large crowds around the world.
Sport of Kings
This equestrian performance sport is all about identifying the fastest horse among several that compete along a set course or distance. There was horse racing in Ancient Greece, Babylon, Syria, and Egypt. Chariot racing was one of the most important sports back then. It was featured in the ancient Greek Olympics and was also relevant to other Panhellenic Games. Later on, it became highly popular with the aristocrats and British royalty, which is why it earned the title “The Sport of Kings.” Over time, the sport evolved and different types of horse racing emerged. Each type of horse racing required different skills from both the rider and the horse, which resulted in specialized breeding.
Types of Horse Racing
- Endurance Racing: Horses travel extreme distances, anywhere from 25 to 100 miles.
- Jump Racing: Horses race over obstacles. Also known as Steeplechasing or National Hunt Racing in Ireland and the UK.
- Harness Racing: Horses trot while pulling a driver in a sulky.
- Flat Racing: The most common form of racing.
Individual flat races are run over distances ranging from 440 yards (400 meters) up to two and a half miles, with distances between five and twelve furlongs being most common.
Although horse racing started as just a sport, there is a lot of interest and economic importance due to the gambling that’s associated with it. In North America, there are three ways to bet money on horses: to win, to place, and to show. This varies from continent to continent. Gambling on horses produced around US$ 115 billion worldwide in 2008. Those are some really high numbers.
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