Horse Racing Origins

Plus a Glossary of Terms

Started by English Knights who returned from the crusades with Arab horses which were renowned for speed and stamina making them the ideal for racing. Which is exactly what arab breeders had been doing with them for centuries.

It was Charles II who instigated horse racing for prize money and Newmarket became the headquarters of British Horse Racing.

Queen Anne who is famous for a period in furniture making but it is not generally known that she founded the most famous English racecourse Ascot.  It was during her reign that horse racing became a professional sport and more importantly for us and the bookies spectators started to bet on the outcome.

By 1810 all the classic English races had become established events.  National Hunt evolved from the hunting of stags and foxes, both pastimes involved the surmounting of natural obstacles such as fences and hedgerows. 

Steeple Chasing had it's origins in Ireland and is generally believed to have evolved from Irish Pounding matches, the loser being pounded to a standstill by the winner's superior stamina over rough country terrain. This eventually developed into races over set distances and the winning post usually being a church steeple.  Britain's first steeple chase over a course took place at Bedford in 1810 and by 1840 the Grand National was being staged at Aintree.  The National Hunt committee was formed and was recognised by the Jockey Club in 1866.

Horse Racing

An equestrian sport in which horses ridden by Jockeys over set distances.  Existing in Two forms National Hunt in which obstacles must be jumped and Flat Racing in which there are no obstacles.

Flat Races
Are for thoroughbred horses are usually over distances from five furlongs to two and a half miles.

National Hunt
Races in this category are usually longer upto four and a half miles these are split into two distinct types,
Hurdling, which are short races over flexible obstacles called hurdles.
Steeplechases over larger more rigid obstacles called fences.

Handicaps in handicap races horses are given extra weight to carry according to recent form, age and gender.

Allowance -A race other than a claiming event for which the racing secretary drafts certain conditions. Entry - two or more horses representing the same owner or trained by the same person and running together as a single betting interest. Photo Finish - when a result is so close that it's necessary to use the finish line camera to decide the winner
Apprentice - a jockey who has ridden for less than a year and who receives weight allowances Inquiry - official investigation into rule infractions Post Position - a horse's position in the starting gate numbered from the inner rail outward
Bay - A colour ranging from tan to dark chestnut with black mane, tail & points Filly - a female horse less than 5 years old. Purse - the amount of prize money distributed to the owners of the first 5 or 6 finishers in a race( varies )
Beyer Speed Rating - a measure of performance made popular by Andy Beyer of the Washington Post Furlong - an eighth of a mile race Roan - horse with white hairs mingled throughout it's coat
Bounce - a really bad performance after a really good one. Gelding - a neutered male horse Silks - jacket and cap worn by jockeys
Broodmare - female horse used for breeding. Handicapping - a study of the factors in the past performances which determine the relative qualities and abilities of horse in a race. Sire - father of a foal
Broodmare Sire - a sire whose female offspring become producers of exceptional performers. Handle - money wagered Stallion - uncastrated male horse
Bullet - fastest workout of the day at a particular distance Juvenile - two year old horse, also the age which horses begin racing Stud - Stallion
Call To The Post - a bugle call used to signal horses to the starting gates. Maiden - a horse that hasn't won a flat race in any country Tote - customers bet against each other all bets are pooled with deductions for costs and racing contribution. Winning dividend is calculated by dividing the remainder of the pool by the number of winning bets. Odds can change upto the start of the race
Chestnut - a colour ranging from light gold to deep red Mare - female horse 5 years or older Turf Course - grass covered race course
Claiming Race - a selling race where the price is fixed before the race and the new owner takes possession only after the race. Morning Line - Track Handicappers starting odds Underlay - horse whose odds are more promising than it's win potential
Colt - an ungelded horse 4 years old or younger Odds On - a horse who's odds are less than even money Valet - a person who helps jockeys keep their wardrobe and equiment in order
Dam - mother of an horse Off Track - a track that isn't fast Weight - assigned weight for the horse including Jockey, equipment and lead weights if appropriate.
Distaff - a female's only horse race. Overlay - a horse whose odds are greater than it's potential to win Yearling - a hore that is one year old The universal birth date of horses is January 1st
Driving - strong urging by a jockey Paddock - structure or area where horses are saddled and kept before going to the track  
Early Foot - good speed at the start of the race Pari Mutuel - system of wagering where all the money is returned to the wagers after deduction of track and state percentages