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The Heritage Of Horse Racing

Apr 18, 2008
Horse racing has been around since the dawn of mankind. It could have started 4,500 years before the birth of Christ in the plains of Central Asia. This is where the horse was first domesticated. Horse racing has been the sport of royalty for thousands of years. Modern horse racing flourishes now because of its gambling aspect. In the U.S., horse racing is the second most widely attended spectator sport, second only to baseball. Horse racing is also a professional sport in numerous other countries.

Different Races

The most popular form of horse racing is what is known as thoroughbred racing. This is the racing of horse over flat courses. The distances of these type of races vary from three-quarters of a mile to two miles. This is also the most ancient form of horse racing. It was already an event in the ancient Olympics. Modern racing began in the 12th century when English knights brought over Arab horses to Europe.

Harness racing also dates back to ancient times but the sport almost disappeared with the fall of the Roman Empire. The modern version of harness racing began in America where racing horses over country roads was a popular pastime until the end of the 18th century. Standardbred horse are used in harness racing. They are bred specifically for this purpose.

Steeplechases are races that include such obstacles as fences, walls, rails and water jumps. Organized steeplechases began in the early 1800s and continue to be popular in the UK. The premiere steeplechase is the Grand National which is held at Aintree. In the U.S., the most significant one is the U.S. Grand National Steeplechase. Hurdling is a variation of steeplechasing that has hurdles as its sole obstacle. Most horses that participate in hurdling eventually move on to steeplechasing.

All The Fuss?

Betting on the outcomes of horse races is one of the main appeals of the sport. It is probably the only reason why it has survived until modern times. Most betting takes place under the pari-mutel wagering system. A fixed percentage is taken from the total amount wagered for expenses, purses and taxes. The rest is divided to determine the payoff on each bet. The odds are calculated by computers and posted publicly during the betting period for each race. Bettors can bet on a horse to win, to place, or to show. Other wagers include the daily double, exactas, quinellas and the pick six.

Horse racing is a pastime for many people. The exciting thrill of horses dashing madly around the track is further enhanced by the rush of winning a huge wager. This activity has gone on for thousands of years and should continue for thousands more. With modern breeding techniques, the performance of horse should continue to increase and records will be broken on the tracks. This is great news for punters everywhere as the sport can only continue to grow. And as it grows, so too will the money changing hands and the opportunity to win that money.
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