Monday, April 30, 2012

British And American History Of Horse Racing

The first man that saw horses running across a flat part of land probably wagered a bet he knew which horse was going to get there first. Once man started to domesticate the horse around 4500 BC in Asia they started to race them and the only people that could participate were kings and the nobles of the area. Horse racing was one of the events during the very first Greek Olympics. This was the beginning of the History of horse racing.

In England the knights that went on the crusades returned with Arabian horses during the twelfth century. These horses were graceful and fast unlike the English horses that worked the fields. Several Stallions were bred with some of the mares of English descent creating a strong and durable horse with a great deal of speed. The nobles of the kingdom would bet on which horse would cross the finish line first and that started horse racing as we know it today.

A very important race to the history of racing happened in 1752 in a little town of Doralia in County Cork, Ireland. Here a race was organized from the steeple Buttevant Church to the steeple of St. Marys. This is where the term of steeple chasing began. The first formal steeplechase was in 1839 called the Grand National taking place in Liverpool. Another great steeplechase takes place annually during the weekend of Ester in County Meath, Ireland and is called the Irish Grand National.

Professional horse racing began in the nineteenth century. Owners started to train their horses in hopes of making them run faster and smoother. If you won a race you received money from the bets made on the horse. Owners who trained their horse made more money than those that did not train and those well paid owners met in New market to form the Jockey Club in 1750. This club controlled all functions of horse racing in Britain and still does today.

The Jockey Club was instrumental in writing down all the rules to which racing adheres to today. It took into consideration the type of tracks horses could race on. It sanctioned five races for three year old horses, three for male and female horses all of which is the English Triple Crown. They also were instrumental in breeding horses for racing purposes. They began to write down the pedigree of all horses born and organized breeding practices.

Horses that have a documented family tree or pedigree are considered Thoroughbreds. These horses have been inbred and can have their linage tracked down to one of three Stallions brought over from Arabia and bred with other horses. Racing of thoroughbreds came over to America in 1665 and a track was built on Long Island. Racing horses became very popular and by 1890 there were over 300 race tracks in America.

Because there was no real governing authority in America most tracks were run by unscrupulous characters and something had to be done about that. The American Jockey Club was formed in 1894 in order to curb criminal activity in many horse tracks. The damage was already done and unlike horse racing and wagering in England where it was acceptable and done with grace and dignity, American racing and a connotation of being corrupt. Racing in the US was nearly banished by 1900 because of it.

Interestingly enough during this time of exile for horse racing in America, pari-mutual betting was introduced for the Kentucky Derby in 1908. This was legalized horse gambling and this turned everything around for horse racing in America. Tracks began to open again and grew from the mere 35 that were left. Horse racing once again was a respectable sport and by 1970 it was very popular again.

In America and Britain there are several different forms of horse racing. The steeplechases is very popular in both countries. An American variety of racing called harness racing has many tracks that were specifically built to specifications for that type of racing. Thoroughbred racing is probably the most popular and consists of a flat, oval track from about three fourths of a mile to two miles in length. Both countries have many thoroughbred racing venues from which to choose. Both countries have regulations and rules that make racing and betting acceptable. They also regulate horses that can race and continue to keep a running record of all pedigrees of race horses.

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