The sport of kings can leave some people a little confused, from the different rules to the tricky terminology. But it’s also a sport with a rich history – here are six things you may not have known about horse racing.
Handicaps aren’t a hinderance
You may hear the word handicap used a lot in horse racing commentaries, but you wouldn’t be the first if you were to admit you didn’t know what it means. A handicap isn’t a hinderance in racing – it’s actually a type of race in which the horses each carry a different amount of weight depending on their ability. The reason behind this is that the race is more equal, and each horse has a fairer chance of winning, as more capable or skilled horses will carry a larger weight. Timeform have various odds regarding handicap racing.
The Longest Race is at Ascot
Horse races take place of a variety of distances, depending on the classification of the race and the types of horses racing. The shortest races are flat races which are held over a distance of five furlongs or just over 1,000 metres. The longest flat races are two miles and four furlongs long, with the single longest race taking place at the Royal Ascot – the Queen Alexandra Stakes which is two miles and six furlongs. National Hunt races are usually much longer, with even the shortest still spanning more than two miles and the longest – the Grand National – spanning four miles and four furlongs.
A Lineage Traced Back to Three Horses
Proper breeding is vital in thoroughbred racing and stallions can make their owners millions by going to stud once their racing careers are over. In fact, it’s so important that modern thoroughbreds can trace their lineage back to one of just three horses which are known as the foundation stallions. They’re the Godolphin Arabian, Darley Arabian and Byerley Turk.
The Sport of Kings
There’s a reason why horse racing is known as the sport of kings – its history has deep connections to royalty. In particular, King James I took such an interest in the sport that he was actually asked by parliament to spend less time focusing on racing and more on running the country. He established Newmarket as a royal resort, although it was his son Charles II who actually made it the hub of horse racing that it is today.
It’s Not British-Born
Many people in the UK assume that horse racing was created here, as the sport has such strong connections with the country. However, although the sport as we know it today originated here, the sport overall did not start in Britain. It actually dates back to Central Asia as far back as 4500BC from Nomadic tribesmen who raced horses.
One Birthday for All
Thoroughbred horses, regardless of when they are born, all share one of two birthdays. Horses in the northern hemisphere are given 1st January as their birth date and those in the southern hemisphere share 1st August to make it easier for tracking ages for certain races.