Every weekend, thousands of people visit racecourses nationwide to watch hundreds of horses duke it out to see which one is the fastest.
Both in the UK and the rest of the world, horse racing is more than just a sport, it is also a tradition that has been around for hundreds of years. But what makes the beauty of the races so timeless? And why are there thousands of sports betting websites, like Timeform, dedicated to the races? More so, why spend money on it at all? Well, these question can’t be answered without further clarity on where this timeless sport comes from.
A Brief History
Horse racing has been traced back to Central Asia as far back as 4,500 BC. However, it was much later in 12th century Britain when knights returned from the crusades bearing Arab horses. These fearsome beasts were then bred with English horses to create the ‘Thoroughbreds’ which is a very popular breed still in use today.
Fast forward to the 17th century, the annual races horses of Charles II became very popular; which is mostly thanks to the grand prizes that on offer. Furthermore, as time went on, horse racing became a much more common sport. However, it was much later in the 18th century under Queen Anne, horse racing and betting became commonplace with racecourses and events created one after the other. It was even under the infamous Queen that the Ascot racecourse was founded.
With such a storied history, it is no wonder that the sport has remained popular to this day and has never gone out of style.
Why Horse Racing Still Holds Appeal Today
Horse racing is considered to be Britain’s second most popular sport after football, with thousands of viewers tuning in on TV or visiting the racecourses. This popularity has remained over the centuries to various reasons listed below.
- The prestige attached to the sport.
For many upper and middle-class families, visiting a racecourse has become somewhat of a tradition and the atmosphere is one that can hardly be forgotten. For this reason, it is accurate to describe a day at the races as an experience.
Also, media coverage on horse racing is relentless and consistent. The first daily racing newspaper, The Racing Post, was founded in 1986 and it is still in existence today. Since then, many other publications have sprung up and have delivered information about horses and racing to an eager public.
- Tradition and Culture
Although horse racing has come under fire at different times with many pointing at the rough treatment of some horses, and the practice of killing racehorses no longer fit for running. However, the majority of horses are well treated and revered by the people. Also, the bond between a jockey and his horse is undeniable. Just like every other endeavour under the sun, horse racing has its dark side. However, this should not take away from the tradition and culture it has brought to the people.
There are many reasons why a day at the races is one to remember. For some it might be the thrill of the event, it could be the display of bravery and perseverance, and for others, it might be the traditions and the history that follows it. But one thing is undeniable: Horse racing is an incredible pastime.