Whether it is in Ancient Greece, China, the Middle East, North Africa or the United States, horse race has long been a part of civilizations across the globe. In the past, the sport was highly organized and was well-received as a public entertainment.
Racing has continued to evolve as technology has advanced. In recent years, technological advances have led to more effective race safety, faster and more accurate X-rays, and thermal imaging cameras to detect overheating horses post-race. In addition, 3D printing has produced casts for injured horses, prosthetics for splints, and MRI scanners for minor health conditions.
Although there are many myths associated with horse racing, the sport has a long and distinguished history. The first recorded race is thought to have occurred in France, in 1651. The original King’s Plates were standardized races for six-year-old horses carrying 168 pounds at a four-mile heat. A silver cup was awarded to the best horses.
Later, the French king, Louis XVI, established rules for horse racing by royal decree. These included imposing extra weight on foreign horses. The sex of the horses was also used as a criterion for eligibility. The lifetime win percentage of the horses was considered a significant variable.
After the Civil War, speed became the goal of race day. This resulted in the use of dash races, which required more judgment and a skilled rider. The number of yards in a race was also important. The average money earned per race was also considered a factor.
The American Thoroughbred breed of horse is considered the hallmark of excellence in the sport. Stamina and the ability to run for a long period of time were a major contributor to this accomplishment. The sport has evolved from its roots as a contest of speed into a large and lucrative public entertainment business. Its popularity has declined in the 21st century.
The American Thoroughbred breed, along with the French and British, is most famous for its ability to run for a long period of times. The American version of the Triple Crown has been instituted by scores of countries. The Belmont Stakes, Preakness Stakes and Kentucky Derby are some of the most prestigious races in the United States.
In the United Kingdom, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, the Caulfield Cup, the Wellington Cup, and the Emperor’s Cup are some of the most prestigious races in Europe. The Grande Premio Sao Paulo Internacional is held in Brazil, the Gran Premio Internacional Carlos Pellegrini is held in Argentina, and the Sydney Cup is held in Australia.
Other prestigious races include the Dubai World Cup, the Arima Memorial in Japan, and the Gran Premio Clasico Simon Bolivar in Venezuela. These races are international favorites. The racecourses in most of these countries use timber fences, which are wooden post-and-rail obstacles. These fences force the horse to jump longer than normal. The fences in a few of these meets are natural brush fences.