Horseracing in Great Britain

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Horse racing is a popular spectator sport in Great Britain, and gambling on horseraces is the cornerstone of the British betting industry. Horse racing in Ireland is run on an All Ireland basis, so the two racecourses in Northern Ireland are not part of the British racing industry.

The two main forms of horse racing in Great Britain are unobstructed distances races, known as flat racing, and races over fences or over hurdles, known as National Hunt racing. Additionally there is another form of racing which is run on an altogether more informal and ad hoc basis, known as point to point racing. Point to point is a form of steeplechasing for amateur riders. It, like professional racing, is nevertheless run under the auspices of the governing and regulatory body for horse-racing in Great Britain, the British Horseracing Authority.[1]

The UK has produced some of the greatest jockeys, including Sir Gordon Richards, usually considered the greatest ever jockey. There are between four and five hundred professional jockeys based in the United Kingdom.[2]

Contents

History

It is thought that the first races to take place in Britain were organised by soldiers of the Roman Empire in Yorkshire around 200 AD, although the first recorded race meeting was during the reign of Henry II at Smithfield, London in 1174 during a horse fair.

It is believed that the first occurrence of a trophy being presented to the winner of a race was in 1512 by organisers of a fair in Chester and was a small wooden ball decorated with flowers.

Early in the 16th century Henry VIII imported a large number of stallions and mares for breeding although it was not until the 17th and 18th centuries that the breeding of Thoroughbreds began as we know it now.

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