History of Horse Racing
Horse racing is one of those incredible sports that has a truly rich and fascinating history. This popular sport has grown from a hobby, into a sport, that is loved by people from all walks of life, including royalty! Racing horses dates back as far as the Roman times, and the 12th century, although it wasn’t as organised as it is now. Public holidays would be the most popular times for horse racing events in places such as Chester and Smithfield, London.
The best horses from these 12th century races were then bred with other horses, to create what we now call thoroughbred breeds. From 1660 to 1685, King Charles II used to hold private horse races, between two horses, with prizes awarded to the winning breeders. This then progressed further from 1702, when Queen Anne was on the throne, as the races were made public and involved more horses. Spectators could place bets on the horses they thought would win, and suddenly horse racing was a professional sport. Race courses began to spring up all over the UK, including Ascot in 1711.
In 1750 the Jockey Club was created, which included horse racing experts, breeders and winners. They decided that the sport needed to be overseen, and therefore created a list of rules and regulations to control English horse racing. They were also given the task of regulating the breeding of horses, and verifying the pedigree or family history of modern horses. The Jockey Club continue to regulate horse racing today, although there is now the British Horseracing Board who are the true governing authority.
Many of the rules, and regulations, set up by the Jockey Club are still used in 21st century horse racing, including the verification of pedigree and thoroughbreds. The only differences are that we can now get horse insurance online, and watch the racing on the television, thanks to modern technology!
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