|Wednesday 15th September 2021
6 Interesting Horse Racing Facts
Horse racing might not be as big as football, rugby, or cricket, but it’s still one of England’s greatest exports. Here are some interesting facts about horse racing:
A horse race was first documented in Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. The sport grew more popular as the ancient Greeks and Romans became fans, and it eventually spread across Europe with the rise of Christianity. King Richard I is generally regarded as horse racing’s first major fan, and he even founded a stable at his palace.
In the 17th century England, King Charles II imported Arabian stallions from Turkey to improve his own stock of horses. This influence led to England dominating the sport for centuries.
In 2014, the global horse racing industry was worth US$15.76 billion. The sport has been popular with rich and powerful people for centuries, both as a sign of status and an expression of wealth. Modern European royalty often still compete in their own races, while celebrities continue to follow suit. The most influential people in the world today, such as Oprah, Jay-Z, and David Beckham, all own horses. Gambling of all types is popular with the rich and famous, from horse racing to betting on Cinema Casino.
In addition to the risk of injury that every athlete faces in every sport, there is also the possibility of a fatal accident occurring during a horse race. Horses are large animals and they can be unpredictable if spooked or startled - even an accidental nudge can cause serious injury.
Deaths in the sport are not uncommon and they range from being trampled to breaking a neck during a race. One of the most famous fatalities was that of the Queen Mother’s horse, Barbers Shop. He struck his head on a bridge and died instantly during a steeplechase at Cheltenham in 1990.
A thoroughbred racehorse is born and bred for the purpose of racing, so it’s natural that they begin their career as early as possible. This usually means a two-year-old horse makes its debut at some point in May or June. By October, a good portion of the horses will have earned enough prize money to be retired from racing and turned out to stud.
Queen Elizabeth II is a horse racing fan and has owned many horses in the past. Her first thoroughbred was called Colonist II, who won the King’s Stand Stakes at Ascot in 1953. She still owns around 40 horses to this day, and she personally names them all herself. The Queen takes pride of place on the royal box at Ascot every year and has an impressive record to boot. She has had many successes including the 1977 Gold Cup with Dunfermline, her second winner of the coveted trophy as well as the 1985 St Leger with Reference Point - a horse she eventually sold for £1 million.
In order to stop any unusual or funny names from being given to thoroughbred racehorses, the Jockey Club must approve all names before they are entered into a race.