You might have a basic understanding of horse racing, but you must understand, there’s much more to this sport than meets the eye, as the five fun facts we outline below will demonstrate!
The History of Horse Racing
Horse Racing isn’t just popular today. People have been enjoying horse racing action for some 3000 years, and that’s only what we know for sure. There’s some evidence that horseracing was practiced in Central Asia as far back as 4500BC! But let’s stick with the official version for now. Around 1000BC, the ancient Greeks would race horses on chariots. You have to jump forward to 664BC to find the modern version of horseracing, with contestants appearing on top of the horse rather than in the chariot.
It was popular with the Romans, too, which is likely the reason why the sport spread all over the world, since they had such a massive influence on, well, just about everything.
Why Do Racehorses Have Such Unusual Names?
You’d expect a pet cat or dog to have an unusual name, but a horse that’s competing in a thrilling race, that might put them in the history books? You’d think the titles would be a bit more serious. But that’s not the case. Even at the most prestigious horse racing events, the names can be weird and wonderful; just check out this list of Grand National runners to see what we mean! There’s logic to the madness, however. For one, the name must be unique — as soon as all the ‘regular’ names were taken, people had to get creative. They must also be comfortable to announce (so they sound good over a tannoy speaker) and tasteful, too. It’s a family sport, after all.
Why Is It Called ‘The Sport of Kings’?
You might have heard of horse racing referred to as ‘The Sport of Kings.’ Why is that? We don’t want to spoil the surprise, but the clue is in the name. Sometime around the 1500s, horse racing became the go-to form of entertainment for royalty and other noble persons, especially in the UK. The regard that Britain’s elite had for the sport is a key reason why many consider the UK to be the spiritual home of horse racing.
Indeed, the connection between horse racing and royalty lasts to this day. The Queen of England is known to be highly passionate about the sport and, from time to time, even has her own horses running in the Cheltenham Festival, one of the most prestigious horse racing events.
Racehorses Can Be Very Expensive
Oh, how nice it would be to have your own horse winning the world’s most prestigious races. Alas, you better hold your horses before getting out your credit card, because champion horses can be very, very expensive. The record is held by Fusaichi Pegasus, who was sold to Coolmore Stud for $56 million. He was dominant on the track, winning 66% of his nine races, but in the end the buyers didn’t see much of a return on their investment since he didn’t produce any winning offspring. Oh well!
Some horses just don’t perform on the track, no matter how positive their prospects are. This was the case with The Green Monkey, who is probably the most famous financial bust, horse-wise. He was sold for $16 million yet only competed in three races, winning none of them. His highest was third. He didn’t perform much better as a stud, either.
They’re Full Of Love
Anyone who has seen a horse in full flight knows that they’re majestic creatures full of spirit. Could the answer possibly lie in their heart? Horse’s hearts are huge, weighing 9 pounds on average, which is much larger than a human heart. You might have heard of Secretariat, the famous horse that overcame the odds to achieve glory. His heart weighed a staggering 21.5 pounds. No wonder he ran so well!