Of all the sporting events you could attend, horse racing is one of the most popular and enjoyable. From the athletic form of the horses to the adrenalin rush of the races and the heritage of the sport, there are many reasons why horse racing has so many fans, with Cheltenham 2020 is anticipated have an average of 65,000 attendees.
Here are ten things even the biggest fans may not know about the sport.
- Horse racing is the UKs favourite sport, after football. In fact, it gets more popular with every year and millions of people attend or watch on TV annually. More than £3 billion in earnings are put into the UK economy as a result of horse racing’s popularity.
- There are two main types of horse racing – flat racing, which doesn’t include any obstacles or fences for the horses to jump over, and jumps or National Hunt racing, which includes these types of obstacles and is more challenging for the horses.
- In the 16th century, horse racing was temporarily banned and was an illegal activity. Many of the horses were even acquired by the government. Thankfully for sports enthusiasts, the ban was short-lived.
- Racehorses were originally bred for war overseas, which is where they got their speed, stamina and strength from. But as racing became more of a form of entertainment, they became useful for horse racing as we know it today.
- Thoroughbred racehorses are incredibly athletic, and the average weight of a racehorse is around 500kg. While that sounds like a lot, it’s actually lighter than many other horse breeds and this aids racehorses with their agility and physical prowess.
- While you may think that horse racing is most likely to be viewed on TV because of the vast number of people who enjoy it, horse racing is predominantly viewed live. There’s a good reason for this. People don’t get the same level of excitement and enjoyment from watching horse racing on TV as they do in person, which is why racetracks are always packed with spectators.
- It takes humans between 9 and 18 months to learn how to take even one step, but horses are much quicker. A foal can run within just hours of being born, proving their need to be racing from a very early age.
- The highest a horse has ever jumped on record is an astonishing 8 feet and 1.25 inches. The record was achieved in 1949 in Chile by a horse called Huaso ex Faithful and has yet to be beaten to this day.
- Racehorse names are notoriously elaborate and exuberant, but they’re not plucked out of thin air. There are actually strict rules and regulations in place regarding horse names and tradition plays an important role.
- The average retirement age for a horse is between ten and 15 years, but no horse over the age of 18 has ever won a race. The last 18-year-old racehorse to win a race was steeplechaser Sonny Somers in 1980.