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Horse racing is an equestrian sport that has a long history. Archaeological records indicate that horse racing occurred in ancient Greece, Babylon, Syria, and Egypt. Both chariot and mounted horse racing were events in the ancient Greek Olympics by 648 BC. In the Roman Empire, chariot and mounted horse racing were major industries. Thoroughbred racing was, and is, popular with the aristocrats and royalty of British society, earning it the title "Sport of Kings."
The style of racing, the distances and the type of events vary significantly by the country in which the race is occurring, and many countries offer different types of horse races. There are three major types of racing: flat racing, steeplechasing (racing over jumps), and harness racing, where horses trot or pace while pulling a driver in a sulky. A major part of horse racing's economic importance lies in the gambling associated with it, an activity that in 2008 generated a world-wide market worth around US$115 billion.
Various types of racing have given rise to horse breeds that excel in the specific disciplines of each sport. Breeds that may be used for flat racing include the Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, Arabian, Paint, and Appaloosa. Steeplechasing breeds include the Thoroughbred and AQPS. Harness racing is dominated by Standardbred horses in Australia, New Zealand and North America, but several other breeds, such as the Russian Trotter and Finnhorse, are seen in Europe.
Historically, equestrians honed their skills through games and races. Equestrian sports provided entertainment for crowds and honed the excellent horsemanship that was needed in battle. Horse racing of all types evolved from impromptu competitions between riders or drivers. All forms of competition, requiring demanding and specialized skills from both horse and rider, resulted in the systematic development of specialized breeds and equipment for each sport.
Chariot racing was one of the most popular ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine sports. Chariot racing was often dangerous to both driver and horse as they frequently suffered serious injury and even death, but generated strong spectator enthusiasm. In the ancient Olympic Games, as well as the other Panhellenic Games, the sport was one of the most important equestrian events. Horse racing was also a part of myth and legend, such as the contest between the steeds of the god Odin and the giant Hrungnir in Norse mythology.
The popularity of equestrian sports through the centuries has resulted in the preservation of skills that would otherwise have disappeared after horses stopped being used in combat.
There are three founding sires that almost all Thoroughbreds can trace back to: the Darley Arabian, the Godolphin, and the Byerly Turk, named after their respective owners, Thomas Darley, Lord Godolphin, and Captain Robert Byerly. All were taken to England where they were mated with racing mares. Thoroughbreds range in height, and are measured in hands (a hand being four inches). Some are as small as 15 hands while others are over 17 hands. Thoroughbreds can travel medium distances at fast paces, requiring a balance between speed and endurance.
Flat racing is the most common form of Thoroughbred racing. The track is typically oval in shape and the race is based on speed and stamina. Within the general category of Thoroughbred flat racing, there exist two separate types of races. These include conditions races and handicap races. Condition races are the most prestigious and offer the biggest purses. Handicap races assign each horse a different amount of weight to carry based on their ability. Beside the weight they carry, the horse is also influenced by its closeness to the inside barrier, the track surface, its gender, the jockey, and the trainer. A typical Thoroughbred race is run on dirt, synthetic or turf surfaces. Viscoride and Polytrack are synthetic substitutes. Thoroughbred races vary in distance, but are usually somewhere between five and twelve furlongs. A furlong is a distance measurement equal to one eighth of a mile, 220 yards or 201.168 metres.
The conditioning program for the different horses varies depending on the race length. Genetics, training, age, and skeletal soundness are all factors that contribute to a horse’s performance. The muscle structure and fiber type of horses depends on the breed, therefore genetics must be considered when constructing a conditioning plan. A horse’s fitness plan must be coordinated properly in order to prevent injury or unnecessary lameness. If these were to occur, they may negatively affect a horse’s willingness to learn. Sprinting exercises are appropriate for training two-year-old racehorses, but they are mentally incapable of handling too many of them. A horse’s skeletal system adapts to the exercise they are receiving. Because the skeletal system does not reach full maturity until the horse is at least four years of age, young racehorses often suffer multiple injuries.
Muscles are just bundles of stringy fibers that are attached to bones by tendons. These bundles have different types of fibers within them and horses have adapted over the years to produce different amounts of these fibers. Type II-b fibers are fast twitch fibers. These fibers allow muscles to contract quickly resulting in a great deal of power and speed. Type I fibers are slow-twitch fibers. They allow muscles to work for longer periods of time resulting in greater endurance. Type II-a fibers are in the middle. They are a balance between the fast twitch fibers and the slow-twitch fibers. They allow the muscles to generate both speed and endurance. Type I muscles are absolutely necessary for aerobic exercise because they rely on the presence of oxygen in order to work. Type II muscles are needed for anaerobic exercise because they can function without the presence of oxygen. Thoroughbreds possess more Type II-a muscle fibers than the Quarter Horse or Arabian. This type of fiber allows them to propel themselves forward at great speeds and maintain it for an extended distance.
Horse racing in the United States and on the North American continent dates back to 1665, which saw the establishment of the Newmarket course in Salisbury, New York, a section of what is now known as the Hempstead Plains of Long Island, New York. This first racing meet in North America was supervised by New York's colonial governor, Richard Nicolls. The area is now occupied by the present Nassau County, New York, region of Greater Westbury and East Garden City. The South Westbury section is also (appropriately) known as Salisbury.
In 1665, the first racetrack was constructed on Long Island. It is the oldest Thoroughbred race in North America. The American Stud Book was started in 1868, prompting the beginning of organized horse racing in the United States. There were 314 tracks operating in the United States by 1890; and in 1894, the American Jockey Club was formed. The anti-gambling sentiment prevalent in the early 20th century led almost all states to ban bookmaking. Bookmaking is the process of taking bets, calculating odds, and paying out winnings. This nearly eliminated horse racing altogether. When parimutuel betting was introduced in 1908, the racing industry turned around. Horse racing flourished until World War II. The sport did not regain popularity in the United States until horses began to win the Triple Crown. The Triple Crown is a series of three races, consisting of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes.
Contemporary organized Endurance racing began in California around 1955, and the first race marked the beginning of the Tevis Cup This race was a one-hundred-mile, one-day-long ride starting in Squaw Valley, Placer County, and ending in Auburn. Founded in 1972, the American Endurance Ride Conference was the United States' first national endurance riding association.
The first record of quarter mile length races dated 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 due to the length of the race. The races were indeed "a quarter" of a mile, or 400 meters. The breed of horse was developed so they could get off to a quick start, and win the race.
Belmont Park is part of the western edge of the Hempstead Plains. Its mile-and-a-half main track is the largest dirt Thoroughbred race course in the world, and it has the sport's largest grandstand.
One of the latest major horse track opened in the United States was the Meadowlands Racetrack opened in 1977 for Thoroughbred racing. It is the home of the Meadowlands Cup. Other more recently opened tracks include Remington Park, Oklahoma City, opened in 1988, and Lone Star Park in the Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex, opened in 1997; the latter track hosted the prestigious Breeders' Cup series of races in 2004.
In the United States, Thoroughbred flat races are run on surfaces of either dirt, synthetic or turf. Other tracks offer Quarter Horse racing and Standardbred horse racing, or combinations of these three types of racing surfaces. Racing with other breeds, such as Arabian horse racing, is found on a limited basis. American Thoroughbred races are run at a wide variety of distances, most commonly from 5 to 12 furlongs (0.63 to 1.50 mi; 1.0 to 2.4 km); with this in mind, breeders of Thoroughbred race horses attempt to breed horses that excel at a particular distance (see Dosage Index).
The Pleasanton Fairgrounds Racetrack at the Alameda County Fairgrounds is the oldest horse racing track in America, dating back to 1858, when it was founded by the sons of the Spaniard Don Agustin Bernal.
The length of an endurance race varies greatly. Some are very short, only ten miles, while others can be up to one hundred miles. There are a few races that are even longer than one hundred miles and last multiple days. These different lengths of races are divided into five categories: pleasure rides (10–20 miles), non-competitive trail rides (21–27 miles), competitive trail rides (20–45 miles), progressive trail rides (25–60 miles), and endurance rides (40–100 miles in one day, up to 250 miles (400 km) in multiple days). Because each race is very long, trails of natural terrain are generally used.
The Arabian horse was developed by the Bedouin people of the Middle East specifically for stamina over long distances, so they could outrun their enemies. It was not until 1725 that the Arabian was introduced into the United States. Arabians appeared in the United States in colonial times, though were not bred as purebreds until about the time of the Civil War. Until the formation of the Arabian Horse Registry of America in 1908, Arabians were recorded with the Jockey Club in a separate subsection from Thoroughbreds.
They must be able to withstand traveling long distances at a moderate pace. Arabians have an abundance of Type I fibers. Their muscles are able to work for extended periods of time. Also, the muscles of the Arabian are not nearly as massive as those of the Quarter Horse, which allow it to travel longer distances at quicker speeds. The Arabian is primarily used today in endurance racing, but is also raced over traditional race tracks in many countries.
Arabian Horse Racing is governed by IFAHR (The International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities).
The ancestors of the Quarter Horse were prevalent in America in the early 17th century. These horses were a blend of Colonial Spanish horses crossed English horses that were brought over in the 1700s. The native horse and the English horse were bred together, resulting in a compact muscular horse. At this time, they were mainly used for chores such as plowing and cattle work. The American Quarter Horse was not recognized as an official breed until the formation of the American Quarter Horse Association in 1940.
In order to be successful in racing, Quarter Horses need to be able to propel themselves forward at extremely fast sprinter speed. The Quarter Horse has much larger hind limb muscles than the Arabian, which make it much less suitable for endurance racing. They also have more Type II-b fibers, which allow the Quarter Horse to accelerate rapidly.
When Quarter Horse racing began, it was very expensive to lay a full mile of track so it was agreed that a straight track of four hundred meters, or one quarter of a mile would be laid instead. It became the standard racing distance for Quarter Horses and inspired their name. With the exception of the longer, 870-yard (800 m) distance contests, Quarter Horse races are run flat out, with the horses running at top speed for the duration. There is less jockeying for position, as turns are rare, and many races end with several contestants grouped together at the wire. The track surface is similar to that of Thoroughbred racing and usually consists of dirt.
The traditional high point of US horse racing is the Kentucky Derby, held on the first Saturday of May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Together, the Derby; the Preakness Stakes, held two weeks later at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland; and the Belmont Stakes, held three weeks after the Preakness at Belmont Park on Long Island, form the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing for three-year-olds. They are all held early in the year, throughout May and the beginning of June. In recent years the Breeders' Cup races, run at the end of the year, have challenged the Triple Crown events as determiners of the three-year-old Champion. The Breeders' Cup is normally held at a different track every year; however the 2010 and 2011 editions were held at Churchill Downs, and the 2012 edition was held at Santa Anita Park, as will the 2013 edition. It also has an important effect on the selection of other annual champions. The corresponding Standardbred event is the Breeders' Crown. There are also a Triple Crown of Harness Racing for Pacers and a Triple Crown of Harness Racing for Trotters, as well as an Arabian Triple Crown consisting of Drinkers of the Wind Derby in California, the Texas Six Shooter Stakes, and the Bob Magness Derby in Delaware.
Thoroughbred and Arabian fillies have their own "Triple" series, commonly referred to as The Triple Tiara. While there is some disagreement over which three races make up the Triple Tiara of Thoroughbred Racing, the Arabian list is more formal and consists of Daughters of the Desert Oaks in California, the Texas Yellow Rose Stakes, and the Cre Run Oaks in Delaware.
American betting on horse racing is sanctioned and regulated by the state the racetrack is located in. Simulcast betting almost always exist across state lines with no oversight except the companies involved through legalized parimutuel gambling. A takeout, or "take", is removed from each betting pool and distributed according to state law, among the state, race track and horsemen. On average, 17 percent is withheld from win, place and show pools, with 83 percent being returned to the winning players. A variety of factors affect takeout, namely location and the type of wager that is placed. For example, one regional track circuit in the United States has four different takeout rates for different types of bets with a total blended rate that exceeds 20 percent.
The most famous horse from Canada is generally considered to be Northern Dancer, who after winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Queen's Plate in 1964 went on to become the most successful Thoroughbred sire of the 20th century; his two-minute-flat Derby was the fastest on record until Secretariat in 1973. The only challenger to his title of greatest Canadian horse would be his son Nijinsky II, who is the last horse to win the English Triple Crown. Woodbine Racetrack (1956) in Toronto, home of the Queen's Plate (1860), Canada's premier Thoroughbred stakes race, and the North America Cup (1984), Canada's premier Standardbred stakes race, is the only race track in North America which stages Thoroughbred and Standardbred (harness) meetings on the same day. The Pattison Canadian International has the largest purse of any Canadian horse race. Other key races include Woodbine Oaks (1956), Prince of Wales Stakes (1929), Breeders' Stakes (1889) and Canadian Derby (1930).
Major racetracks in Canada:
Hippodrome Wellington in Ostend and Hippodroom Waregem in Waregem in Flanders have horse racing as well as Hippodrome de Wallonie in Mons, Wallonia. Hippodrome Wellington was opened in 1883 in honour of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington.
Ireland has a rich history of horse racing; point to pointing originated there and even today, jump racing (National Hunt racing) is more popular than racing on the flat. As a result, every year Irish horse racing fans travel in huge numbers to the highlight event of the National Hunt calendar, the Cheltenham Festival, and in recent years Irish owned or bred horses have dominated the event. Ireland has a thriving Thoroughbred breeding industry, stimulated by favourable tax treatment. The world's largest Thoroughbred stud, Coolmore Stud, has its main farm there (in addition to major operations in the U.S. and Australia).
In recent years, Irish bred and trained horses have enjoyed considerable success in major races worldwide.Various horses achieved victory in one or more of the British 2000 Guineas, the Epsom Derby and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, considered the three most prestigious races in Europe. In the last 6 runnings of the Epsom Derby (2008–13), Irish horses have filled 20 of the first 30 placings, winning the race 5 times.
France has a mature horse racing industry. The race with the largest international following is the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe held at Longchamp Racecourse, with a prize of 4 million Euro (approx US$5.2 million), making it the richest race in Europe and the second richest turf race in the world after the Japan Cup. It is run on the 1st Sunday in October. The Grand Prix de Paris is also held at Longchamp but is run in mid July. The other two French Classic Races are Prix du Jockey Club (the French Derby) and the Prix de Diane both held in June at Chantilly Racecourse.
Horse racing and horse breeding has a long and successful history in Czech Republic. First official race was organized in 1816 by Emperor Francis II near Kladruby nad Labem. Since 1907 races are held on a central racecourse in Prague - Velka Chuchle. Horse racing in the Czech Republic is not a winter sport and the season usually starts at the beginning of April and ends sometime in November. Racing takes place mostly at weekends and there is usually one meeting on a Saturday and one on Sunday. There are 15 racecourses in Czech Republic, including Pardubice Racecourse, home of Velka Pardubicka steeplechase (since 1874), the best known Czech race. Horse races, as well as thoroughbred horse breeding is organized by Jockey Club Czech Republic (founded in 1919).
Hungary has a mature horse racing tradition. The first horse racing in Pest was noted 6 June 1827. Kincsem born in 1874 and was the most successful Thoroughbred race horse ever, having won 54 races for 54 starts. Foaled in Tápiószentmárton, Hungary in 1874, she is a national icon, and is revered in other parts of the world, too. Over four seasons she won all her races against both female and male company at various race tracks across Europe, a record that's still unbeaten.
Overdose started his racing career in 2007, and won his first 12 races. In mid-2009 one of his hooves got inflamed, which brought his whole career in danger. His recovery lasted more than a year, until he could finally return to racing in July 2010. He won two of his three races since his return, thus his career record currently stands at 14 victories.
The Palio di Siena (known locally as Il Palio), the most famous palio in Italy, is a horse race held twice each year on July 2 and August 16 in Siena, in which the horse and rider represent one of the seventeen Contrade, or city wards. A magnificent pageant precedes the race, which attracts visitors and spectators from around the world.
In Great Britain, there are races which involve obstacles (either hurdles or fences) called National Hunt racing and those which are unobstructed races over a given distance (flat racing). Many of the sport's greatest jockeys, most notably Sir Gordon Richards have been British. British racing has rules that stop the jockey using the whip too much, such as: they are not allowed to raise their whip over their shoulder so stopping them hitting the horse too hard.
Races are not referred to as Race 1, Race 2, etc., but by the starting time. For instance, the "1:35" or the "3:10". Each race may also have a name, which may include a sponsor's name, associated with it. The sport is regulated by the British Horseracing Authority. Note that the BHA's authority does not extend to Northern Ireland—racing in Ireland is governed on an All-Ireland basis.
Poland has a mature horse racing tradition. First horse racing was noted in 1777 when horse of Polish noble Kazimierz Rzewuski win with horse of English chargé d'affaires sir Charles Whitworth on the road from Wola to Ujazdów Castle. The first regular horse racing was organized in 1841 on Mokotów Fields in Warsaw by "Towarzystwo Wyścigów Konnych i Wystawy Zwierząt Gospodarskich w Królestwie Polskim" (eng "Society of Horse Racing in Congress Poland"). The major racetrack in Poland is Warsaw's Służewiec course. The industry was severely limited by the communist era, with a major supplier of funds (gambling) made illegal.
Horse racing in Australia was founded during the early years of settlement and the industry has grown to be among the top three leading Thoroughbred racing nations of the world. The world famous Melbourne Cup, the race that stops a nation, has recently attracted many international entries. In country racing, records indicate that Goulburn commenced racing in 1834. Australia's first country racing club was established at Wallabadah in 1852 and the Wallabadah Cup is still held on New Year's Day (the current racecourse was built in 1898).
In Australia, the most famous racehorse was Phar Lap (bred in New Zealand), who raced from 1928 to 1932. Phar Lap carried 9 st 12 lb (62.5 kg) to win the 1930 Melbourne Cup. Australian steeplechaser Crisp is remembered for his battle with Irish champion Red Rum in the 1973 Grand National. In 2003–2005 the mare Makybe Diva (bred in Great Britain) became the only racehorse to ever win the Melbourne Cup three times, let alone in consecutive years. In harness racing, Cane Smoke had 120 wins, including 34 in a single season, Paleface Adios became a household name during the 1970s, while Cardigan Bay, a pacing horse from New Zealand, enjoyed great success at the highest levels of American harness racing in the 1960s. More recently, Blacks A Fake has won four Inter Dominion Championships, making him the only horse to complete this feat in Australasia's premier harness race.
Competitive endurance riding commenced in Australia in 1966, when the Tom Quilty Gold Cup was first held in the Hawkesbury district, near Sydney, New South Wales. The Quilty Cup is considered the National endurance ride and there are now over 100 endurance events contested across Australia, ranging in distances from 80 km to 400 km. The world's longest endurance ride is the Shahzada 400 km Memorial Test which is conducted over five days travelling 80 kilometres a day at St Albans on the Hawkesbury River, New South Wales. In all endurance events there are rigorous vet checks, conducted before, during and after the competition, in which the horses’ welfare is of the utmost concern.
Racing is a long-established sport in New Zealand, stretching back to colonial times.
Horse racing is a significant part of the New Zealand economy which in 2004 generated 1.3% of the GDP. The indirect impact of expenditures on racing was estimated to have generated more than $1.4 billion in economic activity in 2004 and created 18,300 full-time equivalent jobs. More than 40,000 people were involved in some capacity in the New Zealand racing industry in 2004. In 2004, more than one million people attended race meetings in New Zealand. There are 69 Thoroughbred and 51 harness clubs licensed in New Zealand. Racecourses are situated in 59 locations throughout New Zealand.
The bloodstock industry is important to New Zealand, with the export sale of horses – mainly to Australia and Asia – generating more than $120 million a year. During the 2008–09 racing season 19 New Zealand bred horses won 22 Group One races around the world.
Notable racehorses from New Zealand include Cardigan Bay, Carbine, Nightmarch, Sunline, Desert Gold and Rising Fast. Phar Lap and Tulloch were both bred in New Zealand but did not race there. The most famous of these is probably Cardigan Bay. Stanley Dancer drove the New Zealand bred horse, Cardigan Bay to win $1 million in stakes in 1968, the first harness horse to surpass that milestone in American history.
On 25 June 1812, the Champ de Mars Racecourse was inaugurated by The Mauritius Turf Club which was founded earlier in the same year by Colonel Edward A. Draper. The Champ de Mars is situated on a prestigious avenue in Port Louis, the capital city and is the oldest racecourse in the southern hemisphere. The Mauritius Turf Club is the third oldest active turf club in the world.
Undeniably, racing is one of the most popular sports in Mauritius now attracting regular crowds of 20,000 people or more to the only racecourse of the island.
A high level of professionalism has been attained in the organisation of races over the last decades preserving the unique electrifying ambiance prevailing on race days at the Champ de Mars.
Champ de Mars has four classic events a year such as: Duchess of York Cup, Barbé Cup, Maiden Cup and the Duke of York Cup.
Horse racing is a popular sport in South Africa that can be traced back to 1797. The first recorded race club meeting took place five years later in 1802. The national horse racing body is known as the National Horseracing Authority and was founded in 1882. The premier event, which attracts 50,000 people to Durban, is the Durban July Handicap, which has been run since 1897 at Greyville Racecourse. It is the largest and most prestigious event on the continent, with betting running into the hundreds of millions of Rands. Several July winners have gone on to win major international races, such as Colorado King, London News, and Ipi Tombe. However, the other notable major races are the Summer Cup, held at Turffontein Racecourse in Johannesburg, and The J & B Met, which is held at Kenilworth race track in Cape Town.
The British tradition of horse racing left its mark as one of the most important entertainment and gambling institutions in Hong Kong. Established as the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club in 1884, the non-profit organisation conducts nearly 700 races every season at the two race tracks in Happy Valley and Sha Tin. The sport annually draws millions of dollars of tax revenue. Off-track betting is available from overseas bookmakers.
Professional horse racing came with the British aristocracy to China in the middle 1800s and most notably centered around The Shanghai Race Club - the Mainland China racing club and racecourse centered in Shanghai. The Shanghai Race Club continues today as a social racing club for wealthy Mainland Chinese race horse owners competing in international races. The former Shanghai Racecourse is now The People Square and the former Club building is now the Shanghai Art Museum.
Horse racing was banned in the People’s Republic of China in 1949, but reappeared on a small scale in the 1990s. In 2008, the China Speed Horse Race Open in Wuhan was organized as a step towards legalizing both horse racing and gambling on the races.
It was announced at 2011 that Darley will send two stallions to China to support Thoroughbred the emerging industry.
In Malaysia, horse racing was introduced during the British colonial era and remained until today as gaming activities. There are three race courses in Malaysia, namely Penang Turf Club, Perak Turf Club and Selangor Turf Club . Horse racing is a legal form of gambling within the Turf Club and betting is only available in the turf club. Racing in Malaysia and Singapore is conducted and governed under the Rules of the Malayan Racing Association. Horse racing gambling in Malaysia is operated and organized by Pan Malaysian Pools Sdn Bhd
Horse racing was introduced to Singapore by the British during the colonial era and remained one of the legal forms of gambling after independence. It remains a highly popular form of entertainment with the local Singaporean community till this date. Races are typically held on Friday evenings and Sundays at the Singapore Turf Club in Kranji. Horse racing has also left its mark in the naming of roads in Singapore such as Race Course Road in Little India where horse racing was first held in Singapore and Turf Club Road in Bukit Timah where Singapore Turf Club used to be before moving to its current location in 1999.
Horse Racing in India is over 200 years old, India is quite possibly the oldest racing jurisdiction in Asia where racing was conducted under rules. India's first racecourse was set up in Madras in 1777. Today India has a very well established racing and breeding industry, the sport is conducted on 9 racetracks by 5 racing authorities, they are; Royal Western India Turf Club (R.W.I.T.C.) which conducts racing in Mumbai (November to May) and Pune (July-November), Bangalore Turf Club which conducts racing at Bangalore in two distinct seasons, in the Summer from May until August and a Winter Season from November until April, racing is run under their rules at Mysore too by Mysore Race Club, which has a main Mysore Season which runs from the middle of August until the end of October as well as a smaller summer and winter season which runs in conjunction with the two Bangalore seasons. Royal Calcutta Turf Club conducts racing in Calcutta, they too have two seasons their main Winter Season which runs from November to April and a Monsoon season which runs from July until mid October. Hyderabad Race Club runs racing in Hyderabad where racing is held on the Monsoon Track from July until the end of October and on the Winter track from November until February, Hyderabad usually races on Sundays and Mondays. Chennai races a winter season at their main facility at Guindy and a spring/summer season at the hill station of Ooty. Delhi Race Club which was established in 1940 conducts racing at India's capital usually once a week from August until May, racing here is run under the aegis of RWITC. Most of the time except for the summer when Bangalore races on the weekends and Mysore on Wednesdays there is a seven day race schedule all over the country and simulcasting takes place between all the clubs. India has a mixture in their betting of both totalisator pools as well as bookmakers. Racing is restricted to Indian bred racehorses and India has a well established breeding industry with their stallions imported from all over the world. The Indian Stud Book maintains records of all thoroughbred breeding activity in India. The Indian Derby run on the first Sunday of February carries a purse of over ₹ 30,000,000. The Invitation weekend which rotates between the various Turf Authorities is held on the first weekend of March, this features a Group1 race each for sprinters over 1200 metres, a race over a mile and a 3000 metre race for Stayers, all these races have the best horses invited from all over the country. The showpiece event is open to Indian horses which are 4 year olds and over who are invited from all the Turf Authorities, this carries a winners prize of ₹ 10,000,000. The Bangalore Derby sponsored by Kingfisher is held on the second Sunday of July in Bangalore every year.
Indian horses have made their mark on the international scene too with Mystical winning 2 races at the Dubai Racing Carnival. Saddle Up was the best horse in training on the MRA/Singapore circuit and won the Tunku Gold Cup as well as running 2nd in the Singapore International Cup. Others to perform well have been Southern Regent who won twice in England when way past his prime at the age of 9. Beat It Dude, was one of the highest rated horses in South Korea in 2008. Astonish was a Class 1 winner in Hong Kong. Quarantine restrictions and apathy on the part of the Indian Government have kept these opportunities to race abroad very minimal.
Trainers - Rashid Byramji, Pesi Shroff, S Padmanabhan, Dallas Todywalla, S Ganapathy, Irfan Ghatala, Arjun Mangalorkar, Vijay Singh, LVR Deshmukh etc. Jockeys - Suraj Narredu, P S Chouhan, A.Imran Khan, Imran Chisty, A Sandesh, S Zervan, S John etc.
During the Winter season, many foreign jockeys also come to India like Richard Hughes, Stéphane Pasquier, Martin Dwyer, Chris Hayes and in the past Lester Piggot, John Murtagh, Joe Mercer, Mick Kinane, Walter Swinburn and numerous others have ridden in India.
Japan conducts more than 21,000 horse races a year in one of three types: flat racing, jump racing (races over hurdles), and Ban'ei Racing (also called Draft Racing).
The Japanese system of administration of horse racing is unique. Japan has two organizations to administrate and control its horseracing. They are Japan Racing Association (JRA), and National Association of Racing (NAR).
The former, JRA manages ten main Japanese tracks. The horseracing is called "Chuo Keiba(meaning central horseracing)" . "Chuo Keiba" is one of the richest administrations in the world. As of 2010[update], a typical JRA maiden race for three-year-olds carries a purse of ¥9.55 million (about US$112,000), with ¥5 million (about US$59,000) paid to the winner. Purses for graded stakes races begin at ¥74.6 million (about US$882,000). Japan's top stakes races are run in the spring, autumn, and winter. The one of this country's most prominent race is the Grade 1 Japan Cup, a 2,400 m (about 1½ mile) invitational turf race run every November at Tokyo Racecourse for a purse of ¥476 million (about US$5.6 million), currently the richest turf race in the world. Other noted stakes races include the February Stakes, Takamatsunomiya Kinen, Yasuda Kinen, Takarazuka Kinen, Arima Kinen, and the Tenno Sho races run in the spring and fall. Especially, Arimakinen has a world sales record.The Satsuki Sho, Tokyo Yushun, and Kikuka Sho comprise the Japanese Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing.
Japan's top jump race is the Nakayama Grand Jump, run every April at Nakayama Racecourse. Instead of running over a large course as is the case in other countries, the course for the 4,250 m (about 2⅝ mile) Nakayama Grand Jump follows a twisted path on the inside portion of Nakayama's racing ovals. The race carries a purse of ¥142.5 million (about US$1.68 million).But in Japan, jump races is generally less popular than flat ones. More than one jump race is not held in a racecourse in single day. Every Japanese jump horses has experiences to run flat race. Usually, all of them is aim at success in flat race. When they retire flat race for some reason, they are trained for jump. In Japan, there are few horses bred only for jump race like Europe.
The top jockey in Japan is Yutaka Take, who is a multiple champion in his homeland and regularly rides Japanese horses in stakes races around the world. Yutaka Take was the regular jockey for Deep Impact, 2005 Japan Triple Crown winner and JRA's two time Horse of the Year (2005–06). Now, JRA publishes short-term license to ride for foreign jockeys. Many world-class jockeys, Christophe Soumillon, Mirco Demuro, Christophe Lemaire and so on, take an active part in Japanese horseracing. Victoire Pisa won the richest race, Dubai World Cup in 2011, under Demuro.
As a protection to Japanese breeding industry, horse which not bred in Japan (in few cases, not having a Japanese sire) are usually being barred from many important races including Triple Crown in the past. The trend was changing gradually since early 90's, when progeny of imported stud, particularly Northern Taste (Italy), Brian's Time and Sunday Silence(both US), were having remarkable success in both racing and breeding. Particularly Sunday Silence, which he becomes the number one sire 10 years (his progeny would succeed his lead for another 3 years), sired some winners in G1 races outside Japan (one each in Hong Kong Vase, Hong Kong Mile and Dubai Sheema Classic) and numbers of graded races all over the world. Since the mid-2000s, most of the horses in Japan, including many overseas GI races' winner, have sires bred in Japan. Some of them also have a successful breeding record outside Japan - the daughter of Deep Impact, Beauty Parlour won the French classic race, the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches in 2012. The son of Hat Trick, Dabirsim was honored with Cartier Two-Year-Old Colt Award winner in 2011. Since early 2000's, most of the bars towards non-Japanese bred horse/sire were lifted, though Japanese bred horse are considered having more success than imported horse in Japanese racing nowadays.
Another horseracing controlled by NAR is called “Chihou Keiba(meaning local horse racing)”. The fifteen tracks are operated by municipal racing authorities and run under the affiliation of the National Association of Racing (NAR). Their scale is relatively smaller than JRA except minami-kanto keiba (a group of four tracks, Oi, Urawa, Funabashi, Kawasaki. all of them locate in Kanto area including many large cities). Unlike JRA, NAR mainly organize dirt graded events which JRA has few, including International Grade 1 race Tokyo Daishōten, and numbers of Domestic Grade 1 events like Teio sho, Kashiwa Kinen and Japan Breeder's Cup series. Though JRA are considered to be more popular and more competitive, sometimes NAR did represent Japan in races outside Japan instead of JRA. Where Cosmo Bulk (from Hokkaido keiba) won the Singapore Airlines International Cup in 2006 as a NAR horse.
Horse belong to JRA cannot participate in NAR events not assigned as "exchange race" or "Dirt-Graded race". The vice versa applies to NAR, but they could also participate JRA Grade 1 turf events by either get qualified in respective step races or winning a Dirt/International Grade 1 event. Horse transfer between JRA/NAR is possible. Oguri Cap, the JRA Hall of Fame horse, Inari One, winner of Arima Kinen in 1989, were both debuted in NAR before transfer to JRA.
Recently, mainly due to the recession, the sales are falling. It is serious problem especially for Chihou Keiba. The finances of local governments suffer from growing cumulative deficits, some local governments discuss whether keep or close their horseracing facilities. In 2011, Arao city in Kumamoto prefecture decided to close its track, which was the oldest one in the NAR. Fukuyama City's racetrack was closed 2013.
Mongolian horse racing takes place during the Naadam festival. Mongolia does not have Thoroughbred horse racing. Rather, it has its own Mongolian style of horse racing in which the horses run for at least a distance of 25 kilometers.
Horseracing in the Philippines began in 1867. The history of Philippine horseracing has three divisions according to the breeds of horses used. They are the Philippine-pony era (1867-1898), the Arabian-horse era (1898-1930), and the Thoroughbred-era (1935–present).
Horse racing in South Korea traces back to May 1898, when a foreign language institute run by the government included a donkey race in its athletic rally. However, this type of racing was sponsored for entertainment purposes only. No betting was conducted. It was in 1920s that "Modern Horse Racing" involving a betting system made its debut. In 1922, the Chosun Racing Club, the nation's first-ever authorized horse racing club, was established to make horse racing more systematic and better organized. In 1923, the pari-mutuel betting system was officially adopted for the first time in Korea. The Sinseol-dong racecourse opened in 1928 and incorporated racing clubs were allowed to have their own racecourses.
Finally in 1933 a Japanese decree on horse racing was promulgated. Under the decree, only incorporated racing clubs were entitled to conduct horse racing. The Chosun Horse Racing Authority was also established in 1933 to coordinate and control incorporated racing clubs across the nation and ensure consistency in their administration. A racetrack named after the one in Florida, Hialeah, was established by the Japanese in Busan. The location was later used as a U.S. military base, Camp Hialeah, but retained the oval shape of a racetrack. It has since been returned to the Republic of Korea.
In 1945, the Chosun Horse Affairs Authority was renamed to the Korea Racing Authority, and efforts were made to restore the national identity in horse racing. However, the Korean War which broke in 1950 resulted in great turmoil for Korean society, thus undermining the development of horse racing. Worse yet, during the three-year war, racecourses were requisitioned for military training and horse racing came to an abrupt halt.
To keep the tradition of horse racing alive, the Korea Racing Authority worked out a plan to reestablish the racecourse at Ttuksom in Seoul. The construction, which began during the war, was completed in May 1954. With its dedication, horse racing resumed, and the newly constructed Ttksom racecourse served as the hub of Korean horse racing until it was relocated to the modern racecourse in Gwacheon in 1989.
Pari-mutuel bets were tallied manually until 1984. The inefficient management of pari-mutuel betting system was a major stumbling block to broadening the fan base. To overcome this fundamental obstacle, the computerized pari-mutuel betting system was established in 1984, and at the same time, horse racing came to be televised in color, both on-&off-course. These two measures have played a decisive role in boosting attendance and turnover. For instance, in 1984, turnover and attendance increased at 67% and 58%, respectively, from the previous year.
To form a link in the chain of the program to make the most of the Olympic facilities, the government designated the KRA as the organization exclusively responsible for providing the Olympic Equestrian Park. Accordingly, the KRA secured 280 acres (1.1 km2) of the land in Gwacheon area on the southern outskirts of Seoul, and began its construction in 1984 till 1988. After the Olympics, the Park was converted into racing facilities named Seoul Race Park and the first race was held on September 1, 1989. With the opening of the Seoul Race Park, the 36-year-long era of the Ttuksom Racecourse came to an end and the nation's horse racing continued to make great strides.
As part of the efforts to preserve the ponies native to Jeju Island, which has been designated as Natural Monument No. 347, the KRA began the construction of the 180-acre (0.7 km2) Jeju Racecourse at the foot of Mount Halla in October 1987. Three years later in October 1990, the Racecourse opened for pony racing.
As an effort to raise racing quality and promote horseracing nationwide, the KRA started to construct the new thoroughbred racecourse in Busan, the second largest city in South Korea. The racecourse opened in September 2005. The growth of Korean racing and KRA's internationalization efforts have drawn the international attention since the beginning of the 2000s. Led by this, in October 2002, the Asian Racing Federation decided to designate South Korea as the host of the 30th Asian Racing Conference in May 2005. Also, in June 2004, the International Cataloguing Standards Committee included Korea as one of the Part III countries, and decided to add seven South Korean Grade Races to the Blue Book list starting from 2005.
The Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, reported to be the world's largest race track, opened on March 27, 2010 for the Dubai World Cup race. The race track complex contains two tracks with seating for 60,000, a hotel, restaurants, theater and museum.
There is no parimutuel betting in the UAE as gambling is illegal.
In most horse races, including both flat and steeplechases, the pedigree of the horse is one of the things that allow it to race: the horse must have a sire (father) and a dam (mother) who are purebred individuals of whatever breed is racing. For example, in a normal harness race, the horses sire and dam must both be pure Standardbreds. The only exception to this is in Quarter Horse racing where an Appendixed Quarter Horse may be considered eligible to race against (standard) Quarter Horses. An appendixed Quarter Horse is a horse who has either one Quarter Horse parent and one parent of any other eligible breed (such as Thoroughbred, the most common Appendixed cross), or both parents are registered Appendixed Quarter Horses, or one parent is a Quarter Horse and one parent is an Appendixed Quarter Horse. The designation of "Appendixed" refers to the addendum section, or Appendix, of the Official Quarter Horse registry. AQHA also issues a "Racing Register of Merit" which allows a horse to race on Quarter Horse tracks, but not be considered a Quarter Horse for breeding purposes (unless other requirements are met).
A stallion who has won many races may be put up to stud when he is retired. Artificial insemination and Embryo transfer technology (only allowed in some breeds) has brought changes to the traditions and ease of breeding.
Pedigrees of some stallions are recorded in Weatherbys Stallion Book and pedigrees of recent Stakes race winners can be found on sites such as the-racehorse.com. Thoroughbred pedigrees may be found at Australian Stud Book and Thoroughbred Heritage.
At many horse races, there is a gambling station, where gamblers can stake money on a horse. Gambling on horses is prohibited at some tracks; Springdale Race Course, home of the nationally renowned Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD Bank) Carolina Cup and Colonial Cup Steeplechase in Camden, South Carolina, is known as one of the tracks where betting is illegal, due to a 1951 law. Where gambling is allowed, most tracks offer parimutuel betting where gamblers' money is pooled and shared proportionally among the winners once a deduction is made from the pool. In some countries, such as the UK, Ireland, and Australia, an alternative and more popular facility is provided by bookmakers who effectively make a market in odds. This allows the gambler to 'lock in' odds on a horse at a particular time (known as 'taking the price' in the UK). Parimutuel gambling on races also provides not only purse money to participants but considerable tax revenue, with over $100 billion wagered annually in 53 countries.
In North American racing, the three most common ways to bet money are to win, to place, and to show. A bet to win, sometimes called a "straight" bet, means that you stake money on the horse, and if it comes in first place, the bet is a winner. In a bet to place, you are betting on your horse to finish either first, second, and/or third, depending on how many horses are in the race; for example, in a race with 5 horses a place bet would only be for first and second place, but in a race with 10 horses you bet on your horse to finish first, second, or third. A bet to show wins if the horse finishes first, second or third. Since it is much easier to select a horse to finish first, second, or third than it is to select a horse just for first, the show payoffs will be much lower on average than win payoffs.
In Europe, Australia, and Asia, betting to place is different since the number of "payout places" varies depending on the size of the field that takes part in the race. For example, in a race with seven or less runners in the UK, only the first two finishers would be considered winning bets with most bookmakers. Three places are paid for eight or more runners, whilst a handicap race with 16 runners or more will see the first four places being classed as "placed". (A show bet does not exist in the North American sense.)
The term "Each-Way" bet is used everywhere but North America, and has a different meaning depending on the location. An each-way (or E/W) bet sees the total bet being split in two, with half being placed on the win, and half on the place. Bettors receive a payout if the horse either wins, and/or is placed based on the place criteria as stated above. The full odds are paid if the horse wins, (plus the place portion), with a quarter or a fifth of the odds (depending on the race-type and the number of runners) if only the place section of the bet is successful. In the UK some bookmakers will pay for the first five (some independent firms have even paid the first six) for a place on the Grand National. This additional concession is offered because of the large number of runners in the race (maximum 40). Occasionally other handicap races with large fields (numbers of runners) receive the same treatment from various bookmakers, especially if they are sponsoring the race. The rough equivalent in North America is an "across the board" bet, where equal bets on a horse are set to win, place and show. Each portion is treated by the totalizator as a separate bet, so an across-the-board bet is merely a convenience for bettors and parimutuel clerks. For instance, if a $2 across-the-board bet (total outlay of $6) were staked on a horse which finished second, paying $4.20 to place and $3.00 to show, the bettor would receive $7.20 on what is essentially a $6 wager.
In addition to traditional betting with a bookmaker, punters are able to both back and lay money on an online betting exchange. Punters who lay the odds are in effect acting as a bookmaker. The odds of a horse are set by the market conditions of the betting exchange which is dictated to by the activity of the members.
Organized groups dedicated to protecting animals, such as the Humane Society of the United States and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, target some horse sports with claims of animal cruelty. Horse racing and rodeo are most commonly targeted, due both to their high visibility and to the level of stress and potential physical dangers to the equines involved. Criticism of horse racing and its practices runs a wide gamut,[vague] however; while some may consider even fairly drastic discipline of horses non-abusive, others may consider abuse to be anything done against the will of the animal in question. Some people may consider poor living conditions abusive, while others might consider riding abusive.
In 2009, animal rights group PETA released undercover video of alleged abuses of former race horses at a slaughterhouse in Kumamoto, Japan. The group states that 20,000 horses, including former Thoroughbred race horses, were killed in 2008 in Japan for use as human and pet food.
There are many dangers in horse racing for both horse and jockey: a horse can stumble and fall, or fall when jumping an obstacle, exposing both jockey and horse to the danger of being trampled and injured.
Anna Waller, a member of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of North Carolina, co-authored a four-year-long study of jockey injuries and stated to the New York Times that "For every 1,000 jockeys you have riding [for one year], over 600 will have medically treated injuries." She added that almost 20% of these were serious head or neck injuries. The study reported 6,545 injuries during the years 1993–1996. More than 100 jockeys were killed in the US between 1950 and 1987.
Horses also face dangers in racing. 1.5 horses die out of every 1000 starts in the US. The U.S. Jockey Club in New York estimates that about 600 horses died at racetracks in 2006. The Jockey Club in Hong Kong reported a far lower figure of .58 horses per 1000 starts. There is speculation that drugs used in horse racing in the US which are banned elsewhere are responsible for the higher death rate in the US.
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