The Popularity of Horse Racing

The Popularity of Horse Racing


The Popularity of Horse Racing


In the UK, horse racing is the 2nd most popular spectator sport behind football. Across the pond in the US, it’s a little further down the pecking order, behind baseball, basketball, American Football, Golf… but it does pull in some big numbers probably because of the betting history and potential for big money winnings for both trainers and punters.

In the UK, The Grand National Racing Festival at Aintree was the first races in the world to offer 7-figure prize money for horse owners.

Now that has been surpassed by the Epsom Derby, which pays out $2 million in Britain’s richest race. The winning horse can take home $1.1 million of that pot.

Jun 20, 2020; Elmont, New York, USA; No Parole (1) with Luis Saez up, receives a bath after winning the second race of the day, the Woody Stephens, before the 152nd running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest competition in the world for prize-money was in Saudi Arabia for the Saudi Cup which pays out a cool USD $10 million prize to the victorious horse and then another $10 million split between the rest of the field. It was, that is until the Pegasus World Cup came along which started in 2017 and offered $12m in prize money. It is raced in Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida and although requires a high entry fee close to $1m. The golden prize is now over $16 million. This article shows the most expensive races in the UK and USA.

Historically British racing was with thoroughbreds and breeding racehorses was restricted to wealthy owners and estates. There was a class divide between owners and commoners who would never own a horse but worked in stables or bet on races. Racing came later to the shores of the US so has less of the pomposity and whiff of the aristocracy. Horses that are not thoroughbred are raised to race and do well. Some of the most famous horses in US racing history are not thoroughbred but what are called quarter horses, shorter more stocky equines.

See some of the other major differences in the sport across the Atlantic.

Cheltenham Festival Odds & Tips

If you are a fan of horse racing, then you will know the Cheltenham Festival arrives next month with a flurry of enticing races on the cards. It will be a spectacular event as always, but this time you will need to watch it via a live stream due to the Pandemic. Cheltenham festival betting info on gives you info on how to watch horse racing online, and there are Cheltenham Festival live streaming guides, plus top tips and picks for the 4-day event. While once the Festival is over, your live horse racing stream will still give you access to streams from the UK and Irish horse race meets!

The Right Surface

Aug 30, 2020; Louisville, Kentucky, USA; An exercise rider works Kentucky Derby hopeful Rushie at Churchill Downs. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

UK horse racing usually has grass turf underfoot or under-hoof. Whilst in America, all-weather tracks and artificial surfaces are more common because they don’t get cut up so badly and are easier to maintain. The famous Kentucky Derby for example in the states is run on a dirt track. When grass gets sodden with rain it alters the footing dramatically and with it the performance of each horse. One horse who is favourite on firmer ground may suffer on soggy mud. Cold weather also makes for firmer ground so favouring different horses.

Left Turning

In the US, all tracks go in the same direction racing left-handed around the race track. Whereas in the UK, there are left-handed and right-handed course designs. This makes form more difficult to predict in the UK as it clearly can advantage a horse that leads with left legs but switching to right turns may be less familiar.

Flat or Jumps

In the UK, there are many more races with jumps in them, termed National Hunt racing. So, horses have to take jumps often as high as 7ft in their stride. This is a totally different skill and so purists of horse-racing tend to put more importance on these races. But critics also point to the increased risks of jump racing to horses especially. Some jockeys have died in falls but many horses have sustained injuries that mean they get put down. In the USA, the courses are predominantly flat tracks with no jumps. 

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