History of Horse Racing

From the time that man first domesticated horses back in 4500BC, they have been fascinated with the power and speed of these animals.  Horse racing has been a flourishing sport ever since, with men competing and gambling on the outcome of these races.  It is a major professional sport in several countries, including the United States, Canada, The UK, Western Europe, South America, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. 

Horse racing in both chariots and mounted were a part of the ancient Greek Olympics, and later became a cultural obsession of the Roman Empire.  People’s fascinations with these forms of racing have caused it to become a popular sport the world over.  For a look at the origins of modern racing, we have to look at the 12th century.  This is when English knights returned from their journeys on the crusades with Arabian stallions. 

These stallions were bred with English mares to create horses that specialized in endurance and in speed.  Racing these new horses became a fascination of the noble class, and later become a more popular sport among the lower classes, becoming a professional sport for the first time during the reign of Queen Anne, from 1702-1714.  From this came the horse tracks that sprung up all over England, offering larger and larger purses to winners, and making the breeding of these horses quite profitable.  A central governing authority for horse racing was formed in 1750, and was called the Jockey Club. 

The popularity of horse racing in America grew up at about the same rate, however the sport was almost destroyed by the anti-gambling sentiment of the early twentieth century.  popularity saw a resurgence around 1908 until the second world war, and has vacillated since then.

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