Everyone knows what horse racing is even if they have never visited a racing course or placed a bet in their lives. However are there different ways to enjoy horse racing and how has Covid-19 affected the racing world and what did they do to change and adapt?
Horse racing has been an organised sport throughout the world for centuries. Popular with royals and the working class alike it arrived in the UK around the 12th century. English knights returned from the Crusades and brought with them Arab horses. They used these horses to breed with English horses giving us the Thoroughbred that we use in the sport today.
Horse racing’s elite gathered at Newmarket in 1750 and founded the Jockey Club. This organization was to control and oversee English horse racing. Rules were drawn up and racecourses were sanctioned to undertake horse racing using the new set of rules.
Five races were designated for 3 year olds in training and were named the Classics. These races are the bedrock of the flat racing season. They can be used to identify new stars and careers are based on these races.
The Classics are formed from The Oaks, The Derby, St Leger and the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas. The 1,000 Guineas and The Oaks are only open to fillies but the other three (called The Triple Crown) are open to both colts and fillies.
Different race surfaces
Around the world horses race on different surfaces. In the United States they mostly run on dirt tracks. This is because it is by far the cheapest form of surface. There are negatives though and the hard surface can cause undue stress on horses legs. If it rains then there are often delays and cancellations.
In Europe you will mostly see turf tracks. These are better for the horses and see less slipping and sliding leading to less injuries.
Synthetic surfaces are being used on some courses too. Although they are difficult and expensive to maintain they are better for the horse than dirt tracks.
When betting on horses you should be aware of the surface as it will impact on how the horse will perform. Different track surfaces react differently to the weather. Look for the condition of the track while deciding which bet to place.
The UK is known for jump and flat racing and you can see a huge amount of racing throughout the year. It is very popular with certain events like the Grand National attracting large TV audiences of people who normally wouldn;’t watch or gamble on horses. But what about the rest of the world?
In the states the sport dates back as far as 1665 and there are famous racing events such as the Kentucky Derby. In 2017 the Pegasus World Cup was held for the first time. The event held in Florida has the biggest prize fund in the world with $16 million.
Australia has a great love of horse racing and the Melbourne Cup is a great event that the whole country stops to watch, a bit like the Grand National in the UK. Australia is now one of the world’s top three nations for thoroughbred horse racing.
France, Czech Republic and Dubai all have big followings for racing. In Dubai they have the Dubai World Cup which was the biggest prize fund with $10 million up for winning.
The leading nation for horse racing may surprise you though. Racing in Asia is popular in a few countries but Japan is possibly now the leading nation in the world. There are more than 21,000 horse races held each year. The Japan Cup is the most prestigious event with a prize fund of $5.8 million.
Virtual horse racing
Not exactly the same as going to the races but if you were hosting a small event or party these can be a fun way to enjoy racing together. Ideal for complete racing novices. You can hire everything you need and have it run through a browser meaning the race can be projected onto a wall or a big screen through an HDMI lead.
Although this is a computer generated racing event it can be an interesting way to place some friendly bets with friends. One useful aspect is that you can do this online so during the difficulties with groups meeting with Covid the games can be streamed to your home.
There are some video games and computer programs that give you the chance to become a top jockey or to rear a winning race horse. Handy for staying in and playing when there are no meetings on. If you like horse racing and video games then you could check out online events.
Online casinos and horse racing
Like the virtual horse racing above online casinos also offer ways to bet on horses. Whereas the previous virtual racing mentioned was more for fun the online casinos let you bet real money. Online casinos and gaming websites are always looking to expand their products and this is one more area they can use. If you use a casino online then go to ‘other’ or ‘variety’ on the site for horse racing. Sometimes there may be an actual dedicated area for racing and other video sports games.
You will not find the same array of markets that you would in a traditional betting shop but there are enough options to have fun and enjoy a bit of video horse racing. Choose from straight bets, lay bets, place bets, forecast and dual forecast bets, boxed bets and tricasts.
If you tire of the horses then online casino also offer a vast array of other games. Try your luck on roulette, craps or poker. Or settle down and play baccarat or a few hands of blackjack. Although the video games cannot match the excitement of live horse racing they are a good source of entertainment while sporting events remain behind closed doors.