|Friday 21st January 2022
Is there a difference between the US and UK Horse Racing?
When it comes to entertainment and huge betting opportunities, Horse Racing should certainly be included in every punter’s list.
Horse racing is a sport of running horses, mainly Thoroughbreds, at speeds. A race can either be harness racing or racing on the flat. But for both types racers only have one goal: to reach the finish first to be hailed as the winner.
This heart-pounding sport is so appealing that many punters love this betting style. According to Statista, the United States’ horse racing industry was valued at about US$3 billion in 2020 and was projected to reach US$3.52 billion in 2021. In comparison, although the turnover decreased in the past decade, the United Kingdom still recorded £1 billion in 2020.
No question that both Americans and Brits enjoy horse racing, but is there a difference in the sport’s principles for both countries?
Since horse racing first began in Europe, specifically in France where the first documented horse race happened in 1651, the sport was imported into the US by some European settlers. But just like any other game, Uncle Sam made some modifications to its rules and format to make it more viable to a bigger population.
In British horse racing, there are only two types of thoroughbred horse racing widely practiced, the National Hunt or steeplechase races and flat races. Perhaps the most popular National Hunt race is the Grand National, where it attracts the entire country’s attention every April yearly.
In the US, thoroughbred racing is generally restricted to flat racing. Some of the biggest horse racing events in the country are what is known as the US Triple Crown: the Preakness Stakes, the Belmont Stakes, and the Kentucky Derby.
The US also has other types of horse racing: Endurance racing and Quarter horse racing.
Not all horses are built the same or are appropriate for horse racing. That’s why horse breeds are also important to consider when racing.
Quarter Horse Races can also be found in the US, which have a distance of about a quarter of a mile or less; hence, quarter horses are bred to be calm and get through the chaos and pressure of a short distance sprint.
The UK mainly uses thoroughbreds for horse racing. These horses are specifically made for horse racing as they are faster and agile and well-bred.
The racetracks are also among the main differences between the two.
The UK is likely to open to more competitors with both right and left-handed courses. It could be easier for some horses to ride on left-handed courses than right-handed ones, or vice-versa. This is because they have a preferred leading leg and their muscles are built strength.
In contrast, the US only has left-handed tracks, leaving some horses at a huge disadvantage as they will be trained on similar tracks regardless.
Meanwhile, the surfaces are also different between the two. The majority of the UK racecourses are set on turf, with some exceptions on the tracks of Chelmsford City, Kempton, and Wolverhampton which are all-weather tracks. In the US, the racecourses are mainly dirt and are sometimes artificial.
The distance of racecourses in the UK is more challenging than in the US.
In the US, the longest racecourse is at Belmont Park which has been 1.5 miles, or about 2,400 meters, long. The UK’s National Hunt races run over 3 miles as standard which would really test the horses’ stamina.
When it comes to betting on horse races, the UK offers more convenience for punters compared to the US.
Horse race betting in the UK allows all punters to wager regardless of their location. Hence, Brits can bet on sports all the same, on the same companies. This encompasses other forms of gambling, like football and cricket.
Meanwhile, the US gambling laws differ per state. That means the boundaries set by Alabama may differ from the laws set by Delaware. In retrospect, the federal government prohibited sports gambling in most states until 2018, when the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA) of 1992 was overturned.
The US is known to be crazy in giving prize money in any type of sports; hence, they are more generous in giving winning prizes than the UK.
In 2018, one of the biggest horse racing events in the US, the Pegasus World Cup, gave out as much as US$16 million. Another is the Kentucky Derby, known to be the biggest horse race in the country, which gives a US$3 million prize purse, and US$1.86 million for the winner.
On the other hand, if you join the UK’s Grand National, £1 million ($1.3 million) is shared among the top 10 finishers. Significantly lower compared to the US.
Horse racing, in terms of the overall principle of the sport, isn’t far different between the United States and the United Kingdom. But still, it’s important to know some of the differences laid above to set expectations if you plan to try horse racing across the pond.
Amidst all the differences, patrons can expect excitement and enjoyment all the same.