Horse racing is one of the most ancient and distinguished sports on our planet, and archaeological findings trace its origins to around 4500 BCE, when it is believed horses were first domesticated and raced by the nomadic tribesmen of Central Asia.
A Brief History of Horse racing
During the following centuries, emperors, monarchs, gladiators and commoners alike have all witnessed the evolution racing –from chariot racing in ancient Egypt to American colt Secretariat making history and a record-breaking time in the Belmont Stakes in 1973.
In the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South America, Ireland and the Middle East as well as the US, horse racing remains extremely popular. According to racing statistics, in 1989 an unprecedented 50+ million people across the planet attended 8,000 racing days, with over $9 billion wagered on bets.
Racing in Australia
Thoroughbred racing is the third most attended spectator sport in Australia after football (AFL) and rugby (NRL). Many spectators eat, sleep and breathe horse racing (as we can tell from the incredible $14.3 billion AUD wagered in 2009 with the TAB bookmaker).
Horse racing in Australia has been popular since the country was first colonized by European settlers. Today the experience is different, though: there are automated systems, gates and high-tech gadgetry for both types of thoroughbred racing on the island continent: flat racing and racing over hurdles/fences.
There are more race tracks in Australia than in any other nation. Of the 400+ tracks, the main tracks are the Flemington Racecourse, which hosts the Victoria Derby and Melbourne Cup, and the Royal Randwick Racecourse in Sydney, which features the Queen Elizabeth Stakes and The Everest.
Other important racetracks are the Eagle Farm Racecourse/Doomben Racecourse for Queensland races; the Morphettville Racecourse for the South Australian Derby; the Ascot Racecourse for the annual Perth Cup; and the Grafton Racetrack, where the upcoming Grafton Cup will be run on the second Thursday in July.
Racing in New Zealand
According to the New Zealand Racing Board, racing results in more than $1.4 billion NZD in annual economic activity and creates over 18,300 full-time jobs. It was sometime around 1840 that the first horses arrived in the country with the military and soon after racing took off as part of most major events and celebrations.
The most famous New Zealand-bred (but Australian-owned) horse was Phar Lap, affectionately known as Big Red, who gained legendary status by winning the prestigious Melbourne Cup in 1930 as well as 32 of the 35 races he ran between 1930-1932, during the Great Depression.
The most famous Kiwi racecourses are: the Ellerslie Racecourse, the main Auckland turf track known for the Karaka Millions, Auckland Cup, and NZ Derby; Hastings Racecourse, famous for the annual Spring Classic; the Riccarton Racecourse, which hosts the great NZ Cup as well as the 1000 and 2000 Guineas; and Trentham Racecourse, famed for hosting the NZ Oaks.
Visit Sky Racing World to view betting information on your NZ horse racing entries.
The future of betting — today
From the colonial origins of horse racing in Australia and New-Zealand to the modern, technologically-enhanced stables of today, betting has played an integral role in horse racing – and it always will.