Horseracing, as we know it today, can trace its roots back to the 1600’s but, in truth, the use of horses in competitive sport dates back to chariot racing in the Colosseum.. and before!
But it’s during this time that we start to see the widespread breeding of thoroughbred horses, the established of racing landmarks in the UK, like Newmarket, and even the temporary outlawing of the sport by Oliver Cromwell in 1654.
The creation of Royal Ascot by Queen Anne came early in the 1700’s and in 1752 we see the formation of the Jockey Club (later to become the British Horseracing Board).
The Doncaster St. Leger is the oldest of the five English Classics, was founded in 1776.
This race making up the most prestigious races on the English flat racing calendar along with the 1,000 Guineas and 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, plus the Epsom Derby and the Oaks.
There are three codes of racing in the UK, the Flat (turf racing), National Hunt racing and the All-Weather.
The three codes have overlapping seasons with the Flat season (March to November) being the only one which takes a significant break… on account of the weather.
Modern racecourses stage National Hunt almost all-year round with steeplechasing and hurdling through the Autumn, Winter and Spring as well as Summer jumping.
The main meetings for the jumps are the Cheltenham Festival (including the Cheltenham Gold Cup) and the Aintree Grand National meeting.
There is also the Scottish Grand National (Ayr) and the Welsh Grand National (Chepstow).
All-Weather racing, originally a good way of ensuring action (and so betting turnover) when the weather was bad is also staged throughout the year… although it does stage a vastly reduced programme at the height of the Flat season during the Summer.
There are over 50 racecourses in Britain with Newmarket, Ascot, Sandown, Newbury, York, Epsom and Goodwood being the leading Flat courses. In the National Hunt, the main tracks are Cheltenham, Aintree, Kempton, Ascot and Sandown.
All-Weather racing is only staged at Wolverhampton, Southwell, Kempton and Lingfield.
Types of races and the major races…
On the flat, the youngest horses to race are two-year-olds (juveniles). The main age group are the 3yo’s… then 4yo’s and finally older horses which, on the flat, can mean being upwards of 10 years old.
There are all manner of races… maidens, handicaps, claimers, sellers, sprints, staying races. All races restricted by certain criteria, usually past performance.
The higher level of racing is ‘Group Class’ which at the top (Group 1 Racing) contains the Five English Classics. These races are all focused on 3yo horses from a distance of 1 mile up to 1 mile and 6 furlongs.
The top quality Flat horses tend to finish their racing careers at three, maybe four, years old with the most successful (and highly sought after) going out to stud.
The youngest National Hunt horses are 3yo’s but most jumpers don’t tend to race seriously until they are 5yo’s… and many NH horses can have careers that stretch until they are 10 or 11… even older.
This is because the style of jump racing is more about stamina than pure speed… as the horses are carrying more weight. The minimum weight for a jockey in Flat racing is 8 stone, whereas in National Hunt races the lower limit is 10 stone.
National hunt is split into three types of race, steeplechasing (known simply as chasing), hurdling and bumpers (flat races for National Hunt bred horses).
Similar types of races apply to this code… maidens, handicaps, staying races… although there aren’t too many sprints! The shortest NH races are 2 miles, compared to just 5 furlongs on the flat.
Racing on the All-Weather tends to involve lower grade horses, generally speaking, but that’s not to say it isn’t just as competitive. Hurdle races were held on the AW tracks but after a number of safety concerns were raised, regarding jockeys and horses alike, racing on ‘the sand’ as it’s known is strictly limited to the flat.
What markets are available in horseracing?
It’s rather odd but given that horseracing and racing tips are the mainstay of the bookmaking industry, the range of markets on racing is significantly less than other sports.
But the reason for that is simple.
Horseracing is often a very quick sport (races can last a mere 60 seconds) and they are also simple in terms of the result. This horse won, that horse came second and so on…
There are no scoring plays, individual performance records or team results around which to frame betting markets.
So the angles just aren’t there to create markets and provide horseracing betting markets on the wide number of lists that backers produce for the likes of football or golf or tennis.
As a result racing tips tend to focus on the outright race winner or those horses who make the places (each-way betting).
There is also a common practice of putting together bets in accumulators such as doubles, trebles or even Yankees (a multiple involving 4 horses and 11 bets).
Why bet on horseracing?
Being the oldest of the ‘modern sports’… maybe the oldest betting sport, there is so much data available to assist the backer find horseracing bets.
And even though the horses may change every two or three years, the methods for finding winners… the racing systems, betting strategies and backing principles are tried and tested.
The fact that horseracing is quite one-dimensional in betting terms means backers can focus on just one thing (i.e. which horse will win the race) and not be distracted by so many other ways of betting on a race.
And for all the enjoyment and satisfaction of making money from betting, there is surely nothing quite like winning it on the horses!
Horseracing… it really is the sport of kings.
And over the years, high quality horseracing tips have been the hallmark of a good betting service. Well, I tell you what, I’ve got the tips to prove it…