The sport of horse racing dates to about 6,500 years ago in Central Asia. Research indicates that Asian people domesticated horses in modern-day Ukraine and Kazakhstan during this period, and the sport of horse racing soon followed these developments.
It would be another few millennia before the sport would be popularised in Europe. Chariot racing became popular around 1,000 BC in Africa and Europe. The people from Greece used horses to drag chariots during gladiator tournaments and in battle with their enemies.
Horse racing became an official sport for the first time in Europe around 660 BC. In fact, the first official horse race was recorded during the 33rd Olympiad in 664 BC. The horse rider was given the term ‘’jockey’’, a name that has survived through the centuries.
Even though the first horses arrived in Britain around 200 AD, the British people only started to develop an interest in horse racing around the late 17th century. The first official horse race in the UK did not happen until 1679.
In the following centuries, the British would fall totally in love with the sport. In modern times horse racing is the second most popular sport in the UK, with more than 6 million people in the country showing an interest in the sport.
The monarchy also showed an increasing interest in the sport over the centuries. Queen Elizabeth has owned several championship stallions over the years. It is also one of the few sports where members of royalty have participated in the sport themselves, with the likes of Princess Anne, who competed in the Olympic Games in 1976.
The sport also makes a sizable contribution to the UK economy. It is estimated that the sport contributes more than £300 million a year to the county’s economy. Furthermore, sports bettors spend billions of pounds on horse races annually.
Even though horse racing rules and tracks vary from country to country, people across the world and from all walks of life show immense love for the sport. Horse racing will likely continue to captivate audiences for many more years to come.