Horseracing has a long and illustrious history, which has given rise to a rich tradition with many intriguing stories and stunning statistics. Britain has played an important role in the sport’s growth; it is entrenched in our culture, perhaps more so than any other place on earth. Here are ten interesting racing facts that you may not have known:
Horseracing is extremely popular in the United Kingdom and it is only outdone by football in terms of attendance. Every year, over six million spectators visit racecourses around the country, demonstrating the sport’s popularity. You can keep up to date with the latest fixtures by viewing today’s race cards.
While the modern-day game did begin in Great Britain, horses have been racing since long before they were tamed. Horses raced across Central Asia as far back as 4500 BC, and the first horseback competitions on British soil occurred around 200 AD.
The British horseracing industry is a global leader, generating more than £3.7 billion for the country’s economy due to iconic occasions such as The Randox Health Grand National and Cheltenham Festival, which are watched by millions all around the world.
The typical prize money in Flat racing is £17,744.28, whereas it is £11,072.49 in Jump racing. The Investec Derby at Epsom Downs and the QIPCO 1000 and 2000 Guineas Stakes at Newmarket are some of the most revered Flat races in the country.
King James I was so taken with racing that in 1605, parliament urged him to return his attention to governing the country. It was King James himself who founded Newmarket as a royal resort and began running horses there, but it was Charles II, his son, who turned Newmarket into what is today known as the headquarters of English racing.
Despite its popularity, only 5% of UK races are broadcast on terrestrial television, so the best way to get your thrill is by coming racing! Except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, there are games on most days of the year.
The racing of horses was banned during the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell (1653-1658). After the Civil War, most horses were taken by the government, leaving British racehorse breeding’s early supporters in a vulnerable position.
Thoroughbred racehorses’ resting heart rates are significantly lower than those of humans: at rest, a human heart beats between 60 and 100 times per minute while a Thoroughbred racehorse’s rested rhythm is around 40 beats per minute.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, three great sires of Thoroughbred racing in the United Kingdom arrived in England having been imported for war. The Byerley Turk and Godolphin Arabian were fast, strong horses bred with local mares to develop the Thoroughbred breed that continues to thrive today.
Only a tiny number of people are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to ride for a living, despite the fact that many people desire it. There were approximately 450 professional jockeys in the UK in November 2017, as well as another 300 amateur jockeys.