Horse racing is a very popular sport in Great Britain since the 17th century which was known as “the sport of kings”. Indeed, today members of the royal family still own race horses and attend certain annual race meetings. Horse racing generates over £3.7 billion for the British economy from an annual attendance of over 6 million people watching over 13,000 races. In terms of media coverage, horse racing is ranked among the top five popular sports in the UK.
Horse racing in Great Britain dates back to as far as Roman times and has a strong association with the royalty. Racecourses were opened all over the UK with famous annual horse racing events attended by members of the Royal Family include: Royal Ascot in Berkshire; the Grand National near Liverpool; the Scottish Grand National at Ayr and so on. The UK is also home to some of the world most iconic racecourse such as Newmarket, Ascot, Cheltenham and so on.
Many of the sport’s traditions and rules were originated from the UK since Roman times including the Rules of Racing established in 1750 by the Jockey Club and the handicapping system for horse racing, including the weight-for-age scale was codified by Admiral Rous.
In addition to that, thoroughbred racehorse breeding was originated from Britain which are called English Thoroughbred. In fact, all modern thoroughbred racehorses can trace a line back to three foundation sires which were imported to Great Britain in the late 17th or early 18th centuries.
There are two types of horseracing in the UK which are National Hunt and Flat Racing.
National Hunt takes place in winter and horse races run over distances between 2 miles and 4 1⁄2 miles, where horses usually jump either hurdles or fences.
Flat racing are run under National Hunt rules but there are no obstacles on the racecourse. The run distance is between 5 furlongs and 2 miles 5 furlongs 159 yards.