Horse racing – the Sport Of Kings. Four-legged, equine beasts hurtling around a racecourse to the delight of the paying public. Horse racing is popular in every corner of the globe and although it takes on different forms in terms of race distance, whether there are obstacles to negotiate, the surface and the shape of the track, the premise is always the same – get to the winning line first.
Horse racing has been ingrained in society for aeons. Archaeological records suggest that horse racing occurred in ancient Greece in the old Olympics, as well as in Egyptian and Roman times – we are talking about the sport being thousands of years old. Its popularity has risen significantly in recent years due to the increased access to online bookmakers around the world, and sports betting online in Asia in particular, has experienced exponential growth.
There are several types of horse races. The most popular is flat racing, is prevalent in Asia, USA. Australia and the UK. Horses bounce out from the stalls and typically race on a flat, oval track typically over distances ranging half a mile to a mile and a half (in the UK, there are longer races). National Hunt, Steeplechasing or Jumps racing is the second most popular discipline and is very popular in the UK, Ireland and France. Horses must negotiate obstacles, most commonly hurdles or fences and compete over further distances (usually two miles and up). The third type of racing is harness racing (chariot). This is where the horse is trailed by a sulky (a cart) which holds the rider. The horses trot or pace and are controlled from the rear. Harness racing is popular throughout the Americas but doesn’t have such popularity in Asia or the UK.
Jumps racing is as big in the UK and Ireland as anywhere in the world. Cheltenham is the main attraction when it comes to National Hunt racing, and produces some of the most exciting battles ever witnessed. Each year in March, runners from the UK, Ireland and France line up at Prestbury Park, competing in a series of top grade races over four days. The opening race on the first day is a spine-tingling spectacle as the customary Cheltenham roar from the crowd accompanies the drop of the flag. Every year when the festival is approaching, the best online bookmakers will offer a plethora of free bets, promotions (such as money back on horses who finish second etc.) as well as great odds (usually best odds guaranteed). Cheltenham is a time to capitalise on the fantastic deals and bets offers by online bookmakers.
UK racecourses are somewhat unique in their make-up when compared with most tracks elsewhere in the world. Each course has its own traits and characteristics that make it distinguishable from its counterparts. Whilst some share similar designs, no two are the same – that includes the four all-weather courses that are currently in operation in the UK. The individual nature of each track often lends itself to horses having preferences based on their running style, build, balance and a number of other factors. Whilst some horses will demonstrate versatility and act on a variety of tracks, many show a strong tendency to display their best form at certain venues.
Horse racing in Asia is big business. The Asian gambling market is an absolutely monstrous industry, with significant emphasis placed on lucky numbers etc. in many Asian cultures. The main two hubs for horse racing in Asia are in the two prosperous countries of Japan and Hong Kong. In these two locations, there are high-class horse races on a regular basis, with eye-watering prizes for the winners. Racing fans in Asia are particularly loyal and when they have a good horse, they will travel land and sea to see that horse compete. A famous instance is when the hugely popular Japanese horse Deep Impact went over to France to race in the Group One Arc De Triomphe. In what was billed as a three-horse race and as such should have been a close betting heat, there were so many partisan Japanese fans in attendance, that the weight of money meant Deep Impact was backed into odds on favouritism, with defeat, according to the market, out of the question. He eventually finished a gallant third, but the Asian fans moved the betting market with the fervent passion and optimism.
The Japanese racing calendar is slammed and each year there are over 20,000 races. The sport is organised and regulated by the Japan Racing Association and the National Association of Racing. Thoroughbred competition was brought to the country by the British in 1862 and it quickly caught on and gained popularity. Today, Japan is a superb place to own a racehorse – it has some of the richest racing in the world, so owners are very well compensated when their horse gets in the winner’s enclosure, or even when they place. The jewel in the crown of Japan’s racing season is the Japan Cup which is held at Tokyo racecourse. The track in the capital is considered one of the most impressive courses in the world, and can hold over 200,000 racegoers when full – it is always bristling to the rim when the Japan Cup is on. The race itself is one of the most lucrative in the world to the winner and attracts a high-quality field every year. Run over 2400 metres (around 12 furlongs), the victor is typically considered one of the premier equine talents around the globe, and is normally sent off to stud to work as a sire.
As mentioned, gambling and in particular online gambling in Hong Kong is also hugely popular and bettors in the country love their horse racing. The meetings and organisation are handled by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, who are a non-profit regulatory, government granted monopoly. Hong Kong has two spectacular tracks in Happy Valley and Sha Tin racecourse, both with state of the art facilities.
As a former colony, it comes as no surprise that racing is a prominent sport in India and online betting in India is huge, with an estimated 40% of internet users believed to have visited betting sites. There are six turf clubs in the country and the racing structure and top contests mirror that in the UK. Interestingly, China hasn’t been steeped in racing history, but in recent years there have been increased efforts to stimulate the thoroughbred industry, and those endeavours appear to be bearing fruit.
So far, we have mentioned just a few of the famous horse racing meetings from around the world, but for a more comprehensive look at the prestigious races held each year, visit our famous horse races page, which gives in depth information on the different races and how they fit into the racing calendar.
What is the main reason everyone watches horse racing? Because they can bet on it! The beauty of horse racing is that it gives bettors a quick thrill, with most contests only lasting one to two minutes each. However, within that short period of time, there can be thrills, spills, drama and more. Horse racing is pulsating and is even better when you get a winner – there is no better feeling than waiting for the racing results to come in and see your selection fill the number one position. The way individuals can bet around the world varies greatly and the types of odds vary by country and region (the way the odds are presented). In some countries betting shops are legal, and people can wager their money and get a quick cash return in a physical location. In others, there is only the option to wager online. That is not a problem however, as there are countless betting firms trying to ascertain the status as the best online bookmaker. They offer a variety concessions and services in order to try ad entice clients. Some of these include great odds, free bets and quick withdrawals. With so much competition, it is imperative to stand out from the crowd to generate business and remain profitable.
The UK and Ireland are home to some of the laxest betting regulations and laws. Bookmakers can advertise pretty much everywhere, and individuals can bet pretty much everywhere. There are betting shops and an endless number of online bookmakers. What makes British betting unique is that customers are able to take fixed odds on horses for races from the night before. This is not common around the world. The majority of countries operate using a totalizer system, whereby all of the stakes for one race and put into a big pool, the profit for the operator is subtracted and then the remaining funds are divided up depending on how much money there is for each runner. So, the more money for a runner, then the lower the odds. Individuals who pick horses that no one else fancies are likely to benefit from big dividends in the event that their horse wins.
In Japan, customers can bet on the racecourse using the cards provided and are able to strike a number of different bets. The most common type is a win bet, with place, bracket quinella, quinella, quinella place, trio, exacta and trifecta all available. As referred to earlier, the Hong Kong government granted the Hong Kong Jockey Club a monopoly on horse racing and football betting. Within Hong Kong, there are six off-track betting shops and residents can also bet online using the HKJC website.
Getting horse racing results fast is important to bettors who want to know whether they have won some money. The Racing Post and Sporting Life website are both useful for UK, Irish and US racing results. Our horse racing results page provides a comprehensive results service from all corners of the globe, with meeting from Hong Kong, India, Japan, Singapore and the UAE all covered.