How to Choose the Best Horse Racing Experience for You
As one of the oldest recorded competitions in human history, horse racing is a sport with an enormous legacy. While this does create a range of experiences which few other sports will ever match, it makes it difficult to know where you, as a new player, should begin. Having guided some friends through these waters recently, we decided to write this guide to help others find their best position at the starting gate.
Horse Racing Tracks
The first thing which viewers and punters need to keep in mind is that, while tracks are common, they aren’t all created equal. Some physical locations will only have very limited hours or race-types and, because of this, finding a track might be as much a digital experience as anything else.
If you do choose to look online for tracks to focus on, a great review site can help narrow your options down. For example, if visiting a track regularly or semi-regularly is an idea you want to get behind, then our local readers could turn to the likes of Ascot, York, or Hamilton Park for their tracks of choice. International readers could instead check out something like Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, or the Flemington Racecourse in Australia.
Of course, the in-person event is the one we’d all like to experience, but limitations from the realities of life often make this untenable. Fortunately, the digitisation of modern racecourses means that following along at home, on a mobile, computer, or smart-television, is easier than ever before.
Choosing a Racing Type
Many racing enthusiasts enjoy a variety of different classes, but some choose to focus exclusively on one or two types of races. So, what are the most popular of these in the current racing climate?
- Flat Racing: Inarguably the most popular type of horse racing in the world. Flat racing tends to revolve around purebred horses on a flat and levelled surface, with a distance between 1 and 3 miles.
- Jump Racing: A form of racing which introduces more complex elements for the horses and riders to avoid and overcome. The obstacles in these races include ditches and fences, though other obstacles are occasionally introduced. Common jump races you might have heard of include steeplechasing and hurdles.
- Endurance Racing: For those looking for a longer racing experience, endurance racing is probably the way to go. A complex form of competition, these races can go on for tens or hundreds of kilometres, with the longest in the world, the Mongol Derby, stretching out over 1,000 km.
- Harness Racing: A form of precision racing where the goal is not to be the fastest but to maintain the requisite speed over the distance of a track while pulling a cart. For those looking for the most cooperative spirit between man and beast, this is a common choice.
There’s no Rush
With all the choices on offer, going into a complete list of experiences available would take nothing short of a full-length novel. That said, these ideas should at least give newcomers an idea of where to start. Whether looking to watch from the other side of the world or witness the action first hand, this world is more welcoming than you might think. Take your time as needed, as our favourite sport isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.