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Monday, 27 July 2015

Horse Racing

Horse racing is one of the most ancient sports, originating in Central Asia among prehistoric nomadic tribesmen around 4500 BC

When humans began keeping written records, horse racing was already an organised sport throughout the world.

The ancient Egyptians took part in horse races as far back as 1200 BC.

Horse-racing became a favorite Greek sport and both chariot and bareback (mounted) horse races were held at the Olympic Games from 740 to 700 BC. However, at the 33rd Olympiad in 624 BC, the four-horse chariot still predominated.

The type of race called the steeplechase dates back at least to the 5th century BC.

The earliest description of an English horse race was run in 1174 at Smithfield, outside the gates of London during the weekly (Friday) horse fair, where the gentry used to purchase their steeds. A "multitude of citizens" watched the event, generally regarded as the first organised racing of its kind. The example soon caught on and holders of fairs elsewhere included races as a main feature of their program.

The first racing trophy was offered in 1512 by the promoters of the Chester Fair who presented the fastest racer with a wooden ball adorned with flowers.

Quarter-horse racing is an event for racing horses at great speed over short distances on straightaway courses. The distance was originally a quarter of a mile (0.4 kilometer). The sport originated in North America shortly after the founding of Jamestown in 1607.

Modern horse racing was established in England by King Charles II, who was an ardent patron of the sport throughout his reign.

The Thoroughbred is a breed of horse developed in England for racing and jumping. The immediate source according to tradition (in the female line) was 43 or more mares imported early in the 17th century.

In the male line, modern Thoroughbreds trace their ancestry to only three stallions: the Byerly Turk, the Darley Arabian, and the Godolphin Barb--all of the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

Horse Racing becomes the first organised sport in North America when Governor Nicolls established the Newmarket Course at Hempstead plains, Long Island in 1664.

The first horse-racing trophy in North America was offered in 1665 for a race at the Long Island Newmarket course. It was awarded to Captain Sylvester Salisbury.

The first record of quarter mile length races in North America date back to 1674 in Henrico County, Virginia. Each race consisted of only two horses, and they raced down the village streets and lanes. The Quarter Horse received its name from the length of the race.

The controlling body for horse racing in Britain, the Jockey Club, was founded around 1750 at the Star and Garter Coffee House, Pall Mall, London.

The world’s first steeplechase was ridden, in County Cork in Ireland, from the Church of Buttevant to the spire of St Leger Church in Doneraile (steeple to steeple hence steeplechase). The four miles (6.4 km) cross-country race is said to have been the result of a wager between Cornelius O'Callaghan and Edmund Blake,


The Oaks, named after the Epsom home of the 12th Earl of Derby, is run three days after the Derby over 1½ miles (2.4 km) at Epsom; The race was first run in 1779 and was won by Bridget.

The 2000 Guineas, run over 1 mile (1.6 km) at Newmarket, was first run in 1809; it is open to colts and fillies. The first Two Thousand Guineas Stakes race was won by Wizard. The 2,000 Guineas was named after the winning purse. (2,000 guineas = £2,100.)

The 1000 Guineas was first run at Newmarket on April 28, 1814, five years after the inaugural running of the equivalent race for both colts and fillies, the 2000 Guineas. It is open to three-year-old fillies only. The first 1000 Guineas Stakes was won by Charlotte.

An event on the Union Race Course, Long Island, drew an estimated 60,000 people in 1823 - the first large crowd ever to watch an American sporting function. Spectators came from all over the country to see the exciting match, not least perhaps because it also presented a contest between the North and the South. The North ran its unbeaten American Eclipse. The South chose Sir Henry. Eclipse won.

The phrase "Hands down" is from 19th century horse-racing, when victory was so secure that a jockey could drop the reins and still win.

Sir Barton won the Belmont Stakes on June 11, 1919, becoming the first horse to win what was to become to be known as the U.S. Triple Crown.


Seabiscuit defeated War Admiral on November 1, 1938 in an upset victory during a race deemed "the match of the century" in horse racing.The event was run over 1 3/16 miles (1.91 km) at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. The estimated 40,000 spectators at the track were joined by 40 million listening on the radio.

Photo-finish cameras were used for the first time in Britain at a race course at Epsom in 1947.

Starting stalls were used for the first time in horse racing in Britain for the Chesterfield Stakes at Newmarket in 1965.

A little known horse called Red Rum won his first steeplechase, a novice event at Doncaster, at odds of 100/7 on November 6, 1970. He later galloped into history as the only three time winner of the Grand National.

By Rick Weston from UK - Red Rum at Castle Park, Bristol 1980 Wikipedia 

In what was billed as the "Battle of the sexes," Kentucky Derby winner, Foolish Pleasure went head to head in a 1975 match race against the undefeated filly, Ruffian. In the lead, Ruffian broke a leg and after an unsuccessful operation to save her, the horse most believe to be the greatest thoroughbred filly ever, was humanely put down.

A horse that wins a race 'hands down' means his jockey never used the whip.

On average, a racehorse will live for 25 to 30 years and around the age of 15, horses will normally retire from racing.

Originally, a "wild goose chase" was a horse race in which a leading rider would make a challenging course that other riders had to follow.

The phrase "dead heat" originates from horse-racing. A heat is that part of a race run without stopping; a dead heat reaches no conclusion as two (or more) horses tie.

Sources Europress Encyclopedia, Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia


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