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6 Apr 2024

How Horse Racing Has Changed Over Time

Horse racing has been around for centuries and while the sport itself hasn’t changed drastically, the way it is practised has evolved significantly over time.

In the past, horses were raced mainly for recreation and entertainment purposes, but now, in 2023, horse racing is a multi-billion pound industry with a large fanbase across the globe.

Here, we explore how horse racing has developed over time.

Exploring the ancient origins of horse racing

The origins of horse racing date back to ancient times. The earliest evidence of horse racing dates back to the Babylonian Empire in the second millennium BC. During this time, chariot races were held in honour of gods and goddesses.

In Ancient Greece, horse racing was a popular sport among the upper classes and was even included in the Olympic Games from 648 BC.

Later, during the Roman Empire, chariot races were held at circuses throughout Europe and became a major source of entertainment for the masses.

In Medieval England, horse racing began to take on more organised forms as it became a popular pastime among royalty and nobility alike.

By the 16th century, horseracing had become an established sport across Europe with various rules being put into place to ensure fair play and safety for both riders and horses alike. 

A look at famous racehorses throughout history

There have been many famous racehorses that have made a lasting impression on the world of horse racing.

One of the most iconic is Secretariat, who won the Triple Crown in 1973 and set records for all three races.

Red Rum is famed all over the world and is the only horse to have won the Grand National at Aintree in Liverpool three times in 1973, 1974 and 1977.

Seabiscuit is another well-known racehorse from the 1930s who overcame adversity to become a champion. He was known for his courage and determination, which helped him win several major races including the Santa Anita Handicap and Hollywood Gold Cup.

More recently, American Pharoah became the first horse since 1978 to win the Triple Crown in 2015.

All these horses have left an indelible mark on horse racing history and will be remembered as some of its greatest champions.

The impact of horse racing on pop culture 

Horse racing has been a part of pop culture for centuries and its influence can be seen in many aspects of our lives.

From literature to film, horse racing has been used as a source of entertainment and inspiration.

In literature, authors such as Charles Dickens and Mark Twain have written stories about the sport, while on the big screen, movies like Seabiscuit and Secretariat have become classics that showcase the power and beauty of horse racing.

Horse racing also plays an important role in fashion, with designers creating clothing inspired by jockeys’ uniforms or race-day attire. The sport is also popular in music, with songs like 'My Old Kentucky Home' becoming iconic tunes associated with horse racing events.

How technology has changed horse racing over time

Horse racing was largely dependent on manual labour and human judgment a century ago. However, with the advent of modern technology, many aspects of horse racing have changed drastically.

Computers are now used to track horses’ performance data in real time. This allows trainers to make more informed decisions about which horses should be entered into races and how they should be trained.

Computerised systems are also used to monitor horses’ health and well-being during races. This helps ensure that all participants are safe and healthy throughout the race. Technology has also made it easier for spectators to follow races from afar by providing live-streaming video feeds of events as they happen.

Horse racing has evolved over time from a leisurely activity to a full-fledged professional sport. With advancements in technology and the advent of online betting, it has become more accessible and profitable than ever before.