By HRI Foreign Staff — Horse racing is a truly international sports industry and is a huge draw for spectators across the globe. The competition of racing horses at speed across different kinds of tracks and stadia is supremely popular in many countries.
Evidence of racing horses goes back well into ancient history, with the ancient Greeks popularizing races at the original Olympic Games.
Horse racing became an organized sport in 17th Century England. The lasting measures drawn up by King Charles II led to a lasting influence on the sport’s history.
Nowadays, the sport is most popular in the UK and Ireland, the USA, Australia and New Zealand, and the United Arab Emirates.
While these countries all share a great love for the sport and enjoy the benefits of the latest techniques and technology, there are significant differences in how they approach the sport.
Differences in Horse racing in the UK and USA
In the UK, there are two main types of horse races: flat races and National Hunt or steeplechase events. Jump races are extremely popular in the UK and make up a large proportion of the horse racing events in the country.
The Grand National is probably the most famous UK steeplechase event. It takes place every April and attracts the attention of fans from all over the world.
It is a race that involves horses hurdling over steeples or jumps. This sort of race is far more common than in the US, where it only takes place in 11 of the 50 states.
There is also a difference in the tracks and terrain used in horse racing venues. Dirt is the main surface of choice in America, while most UK events are based on turf.
Distances also vary, with the longer races more common in the UK.
The famous triple crown events of the USA are all less than 1.5 miles. National Hunt races are more likely to be over 3 miles.
The USA has been home to other types of horse racing not seen anywhere else. These include the more extreme endurance type races which are traditionally not at track meets, but out in the countryside.
Sometimes taking in distances as great as 50 to 100 miles, the events take place over several days.
Much shorter events known as Quarter horse racing is also popular in the States. The name comes from the horses competing over distances of a quarter of a mile. The sprints make for a fast event, and they are popular across the country.
Sports betting culture also differs from country to country. The majority of large horse racing countries such as the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand have a relaxed betting approach to make the most of a racing event.
In the UK also, betting and gambling have been closely intertwined with horse racing for centuries. A day at the races was often boosted by the promise of a bet.
It is also the same for Australia and New Zealand with punters placing their bets at the racetrack. Many racegoers also place their bets online finding the best odds for their chosen horse. A lot of sportsbooks now offer their new customers various promotions, Bet365+ are currently offering new customers up to $100 in betting credits for those who want to try out a new reputable operator.
This climate for gambling and sports entertainment has a vastly different history to that of the USA. In America, the sports betting market has only recently opened up.
Recent landmark rulings have allowed online sports betting in several states. Although much has changed, the process of expanding the industry across the country is still very much ongoing.
Often there will be different rules and regulations for betting on sports depending on which state you are in.
In the UK, the process of betting on sports such as horse racing is very much simplified. Usually, bookmakers will offer fixed odds on their bets at events.
In the USA, up until recently, a form of pari-mutuel betting was used. This is when bets are pooled together and then a share of the winnings is won depending on the result.
The Top Events
The biggest horse racing tournaments across the world attract huge numbers of viewers and generate a massive sum of money.
Each year It is worth an estimated £3.45 billion in the UK alone. When the rest of the horse racing world is added to this, it is easy to see why it is such big business.
The biggest event in the US racing calendar is The Kentucky Derby. Competed across 1.25 miles, the dynamic thoroughbred race was first run in 1875.
In the UAE, it is The Dubai World Cup that is top of the race fans list. First running in 1996 and offering an incredible prize fund of £9.8m, it is the richest race in the world.
Race fans in the UK could point to either of two events being the most well-loved. Both the Grand National and the Derby are considered to be among the most famous meets anywhere in the world.
The two are completely different kinds of races, with the Epsom Derby a flat race and the National including jumps. But both have a reputation for being at the pinnacle of the British horse racing tradition.
Over in Australia and New Zealand, the Melbourne Cup is a true favourite for lovers of the sport. Held each November since 1861, the race is among the world’s best.
The New Zealand Derby, held in Auckland every March, is a thoroughbred flat race that also has many supporters. Raced over 2400 metres, it is a captivating test for horses and their jockeys.