All evidence suggests that horse racing betting has existed for as long as men and women have ridden atop horses. Little has changed in the art of horse racing itself, but we do have the advantage today of horse racing betting sites that bring the action to you no matter how far you may be from any given track. All you have to do is pick a site, place your bets, and then watch the race unfold live on your computer or mobile device.
The ability to place bets online is a major advantage for newbies and experienced punters alike. If you’re new to horse racing, the internet serves as a low-risk vehicle to get started. You can bet as little as you like, save money by watching the races at home and get a feel for it before you commit too much time or money. Experienced handicappers gain the advantage of having an entire world of tracks and races to choose from along with every imaginable type of racing bet.
Where To Bet On Horse Racing Online
How Online Horse Betting Works
Horse racing betting sites work closely with physical tracks to provide the full betting experience to everyone watching at home. Online betting has been particularly helpful to the racing industry because the online wagers are normally pooled with the bets placed at the track. This pooling of wagers has resulted in bigger purses and more money for the industry as a whole.
The actual process of placing bets is similar to betting on any other sport. There are a ton of bets with different names, but ultimately your goal in all wagers is to predict how the race ends whether that be picking the winner, the finishing order of the top few horses and so on. All bets taken from all sources (online, in-person and at OTB locations) are pooled together and then used to pay the winners in classic “parimutuel” fashion. Speaking of which… Now would be a good time to explain how parimutuel wagering works.
Betting on horses is a bit different than betting on your favourite football team. A regular sportsbook sets the line and then collects action from those wagering on each side of the event minus a little “vigorish” or house take. This is also referred to as “fixed-odds” betting because the payout is agreed upon at the time the bet is taken.
Parimutuel betting works a little differently. The payout odds are determined entirely by the total amount of action taken in for each type of bet. The track pools all the money together, takes out a fee to cover expenses and earn a profit and then pays out the winners with what remains.
The payouts in parimutuel wagering are fluid until the event closes for betting. As new money comes in, the odds are updated. You may have an idea of what to expect for a payout, but the payout isn’t set in stone until the betting closes and no more wagers are accepted. This is another way in which parimutuel wagering differs from fixed-odds betting.
This explains why popular “favoured” horses pay less than unpopular longshots. More people bet on favored horses and when those horses do indeed win, the pool is divided up among a large number of winning bettors.
Longshots pay more because fewer people bet on them. If only 5 out of a 100 people bet on a longshot and that horse does win the race, the entire pool is divided up among those 5 winners. Each winner takes home a big chunk of the total prize pool.
Types of Horse Racing Bets
Just looking at how many different types of horse bets there are can make the whole thing seem way more complicated than it really is. The main thing to remember is that the general idea is always to somehow predict the final order of the horses. There’s a different name for every wager, but none of the basic wagers are excessively complicated.
The simplest bets tend to be the most popular because, well, they’re simple. The more complicated bets involve picking multiple horses and structuring the wager so there are multiple ways to win. The latter look complicated at first but they start to make more sense once you have a handle on the simpler wagers. Here’s how they all work:
- Win: This is the most basic horse racing wager. You pick one horse and you get paid if that horse crosses the finish line first.
- Place: The place bet can have different meanings depending on what country you are in. In North America, a place bet means betting on a horse to finish either first or second. In other parts of the world, the bet pays out if the horse finishes within a predetermined number of places.
- Show: A bet on one horse to finish in first, second or third. It doesn’t matter which place the horse finishes in as long as it’s somewhere in the top three.
- Each Way: This one is a combination of the win bet and a place bet. Basically half your bet is on the horse to win, and the other half of your bet is on the horse to finish in the places. If your selection wins the race, then both parts of the wager get paid out. If your horse does not win but does finish in the places then just the second half of your bet gets paid out.
- Across the Board: The ATB bet is just a combination of the win, place and show bets all placed on one horse. If your pick finishes first, the entire ATB bet wins. If your horse finishes second, you only get paid for the place and show portions of the wager. If your selection finishes third, only the show bet is paid.
- Forecast / Exacta: You pick two horses take first and second place in that order. This bet only wins if the horses you pick finish in the exact order that you specify.
- Reverse Forecast / Reverse Exacta / Quinella: This bet has all kinds of names, but it’s just a wager where you pick two horses to take first and second place. The order in which they finish doesn’t matter. As long as your two horses take the top two spots, you win.
- Tricast / Trifecta: Your goal in the trifecta is to pick three horses to finish in first, second and third place in that exact order. Doing so is a tall order, but the payouts are very generous.
- Reverse Tricast / Reverse Trifecta: Pick three horses to take first, second and third but finishing order does not matter. As long as your three picks somehow account for 1st 2nd and 3rd place, you win.
- Lay: A lay bet is where you are effectively backing against a horse to win a race. If you place a lay bet on a horse and it doesn’t win, you get paid. This bet rarely pays much.
- Double: The double bet involves making two selections for horses to win separate races. Both horses must win their respective races for you to get paid out with this bet. You can also place each way doubles, which means both horses need to at least finish “in the places” for your wager to pay out.
- Treble or Pick 3: This one has you select the first place finishers in three separate horse races. You must get all three right for your wager to win. You can also place each way trebles.
- Accumulator / Parlay: You make multiple selections across multiple races but only get paid if every single prediction is correct. The more predictions you make in a single parlay bet, the more it pays. Parlays are very difficult to win but offer some of the biggest payouts in online horse racing betting.
Types of Horses and Races
The following terms all describe either specific types of horses or types of races. An understanding of these terms will make it significantly easier to navigate the world of horse betting.
Thoroughbreds: This is a breed of horse designed specifically for racing in the 17th century by crossing Arabian stallions with European mares. They are noted for their speed and stamina owing to slim bodies, broad chests and short backs.
These are horses whose lineage can be traced back directly to one of the original three horses that were brought to England in the late 1600s and early 1700s for the purpose of improving the local stock for horse racing. Those three horses are the Byerly Turk, the Darley Arabian and the Godolphin Barb.
Thoroughbred racing is by far the most popular and well-known form of horse racing. If you overhear someone talking about a big race, it likely will be a thoroughbred event. Thoroughbred racing betting is offered by all online racebooks.
There are two forms of thoroughbred racing that may be found on horse betting websites. Flat racing refers to a thoroughbred race over a certain distance where the track is completely flat. Jump racing is a form of thoroughbred racing where the horse and jockey must clear hurdles along the track.
Quarter Horses: The American Quarter Horse is a breed that excels at sprinting short distances. The name comes from their dominance in races a quarter mile or less. Quarter Horses are strong, compact and versatile. They have been used in races, farming, herding and even battle over the years. You will find some quarter horse racing online, but it is not nearly as popular as thoroughbred racing.
Standardbreds: Standardbreds specialize in harness racing. They are noted for their stamina and endurance. Standardbreds are also used for pleasure riding and horse shows. Australia and Canada are noted for their strong Standardbred racing industries.
Standardbred races are the most obvious from first sight: if you see what looks like a bunch of chariots racing around the track, you know you’re looking at a Standardbred event.
Maiden Race: Maiden races are reserved for horses that have not yet won a race. Likewise, a maiden horse is a horse that has not yet won a race. Maiden races are generally seen as a starting point for a horse’s career.
Claiming Race: Every horse in a claiming race is for sale and can be “claimed” before the race. The prospective buyer puts in the request before the race and becomes the new owner of the horse at the end of the race, regardless of the outcome.
Claiming races typically don’t rank very high in terms of prestige. Not every horse can be an international star, and the claiming races are where most horses spend their careers. Odds are at least half the races at your local track fall in this category.
Allowance Race: Allowance races come with predetermined amounts of weight assigned to each horse based on its achievements, age, sex and other factors for the purpose of making each race competitive. These races are considered one step up from claiming races and usually have larger purses.
Stakes Race: Stakes races are the most prestigious races. These are where the best horses go to win the largest purses. Local stakes races feature horses bred locally while graded stakes races accept horses from other parts of the country or world.
Much of the purse money comes from the fees owners must pay to participate in the race. There are three different grades that are assigned to these types of races: Grade 1, Grade 2 and Grade 3. Grade 1 races are the most prestigious and feature six or seven-figure purses.
Endurance Races: There are a few horse betting sites that give bettors the chance to bet on endurance horse racing. These horse races are also performed with a jockey, but they are performed over long distances. Endurance racing is not performed inside of a stadium; rather, it takes place through wilderness and on set trails. Endurance races can sometimes take several days to complete, which makes the anticipation much greater.
Derby: There are a few different definitions for the term “derby” but it most often refers to major annual horse races open to 3-year-olds only.
Major Horse Racing Events
One of the most famous horse races in the world is the Grand National. This steeplechase race is run over fences, hurdles and ditches and takes place once a year at the Aintree course in Liverpool, England. Even people who rarely bet will have a wager on the National once a year.
In the US, the Kentucky Derby is the biggest race of the year. Together with the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes, these three races form The Triple Crown and all attract a great deal of interest across the world. The Breeders’ Cup races are also of huge importance to the American racing fraternity.
How to Study and Handicap Horses
Handicapping is the art of studying horse races and improving your betting results. The basic goal of handicapping is to use your knowledge to earn a better return than what you would earn by making picks at random. Once you have a thorough understanding of how horse race betting works, the next logical step is to get better at it.
The key to handicapping is doing your homework. This means studying and researching horses, and keeping up to date on racing news. Knowledge is the ultimate key to success. The next step is to understand the basic strategies behind horse racing bets, which we’ll be covering shortly.
Third, you should familiarize yourself with the Daily Racing Form – most specifically the past performance data. The DRF is distributed by every racetrack and contains a plethora of information about every entered horse. It’s chock full of information but it can be a bit overwhelming for novices.
The good news is the people who publish the DRF have an excellent tutorial that explains how to read it. See this page for an interactive tutorial for reading the form.
If wagering in person, you can pick up printed daily racing forms right at the track. You can also purchase forms online at the DRF website if you’re betting on horse races online. Prices for individual forms run $1.50 each and you can also sign up for packages that deliver forms to you daily.
Before you purchase racing forms online, check to see if your horse racing betting site posts them already. Some of the bigger horse racing websites publish the forms online for free. You just have to select the track and the form is displayed.
Racing forms are your basic starting point. Once you have a plan for getting your hands on a form, you can then move on to more advanced reading. Next we’d suggest reading a couple of basic horse handicapping books. In their books, experienced handicappers explain their strategies for using the DRF as well as other tactics for getting an edge.
Horse Racing Betting Tips and Strategy
Loads of horse racing tips have been passed on through generations with ways in which to pick successful winners. This article should hopefully give you some good pointers to consider before finally placing your wager on a horse.
- Check Race Distance: The length of a race is important. Some will stay a lot better than other horse whilst some are built for out and out sprinting. Even just a couple of furlongs more or less can have a dramatic effect on how a horse could perform. It’s for this reason that whilst checking the form of your horse makes sure you note the race distance in their results. It’s all well and good seeing a horse place in 5 of their last 6 races but if that horse was running in races 5 furlongs shorter than its current race its likely going to suffer. Check the history of the race to see how the horse both stayed and finished to determine if any changes in race distance will have a positive or negative effect.
- Analyze Class: As an extension from the previous point it’s also important to check the class of the race. Classes basically determine the standard of the race – higher class, higher standard – and horses making a step up in class are basically stepping into the unknown as the gulf between each class is generally quite wide. Make sure you note previous races in each class prior to betting on a horse.
- Consider Current Ground Conditions: Track conditions are also important for the majority of horses. Some suit the harder faster ground, whilst others will have the stamina to stay in softer, slower ground. Whilst each horse might not necessarily have a preference as such, they will likely have an advantage over the field depending on the type of ground. It’s not uncommon for horses to be pulled out of races because of the ground not being to their liking. This is the extent trainers will go to as it’s just not worth risking an injury in ground that does not suit.
- Compare Weights: You simply must determine which jockeys or horses are required to carry extra weight in the race. Again checking back over previous results, see what weight they were carrying and then again what they are carrying in the race that you are looking at. The weight is basically a handicapping tool where an independent panel tries to even up the field for a more interesting race. Weight may also be added after a horse has been victorious to essentially penalise them for doing well. A horse carrying more weight will have to step up in class compared to a lighter horse that may not be as accomplished. Be sure to compare both current and previous weights.
- Time Frame Since Last Race: If you are looking to back a horse that has quite a few races under its belt then you are at a massive advantage. One of the main reasons for this is that you can check as to how they perform with differentiating amounts of rest days in between. Some horses may well like a good rest of a few months in between races, this allows them to get back to full fitness and run well in the next race. Others like to run a few races in a short space of time, this means they are ‘in their stride’ and feeling fit. Note the date of the last race and then compare the time in between to that of previous races with similar resting periods. From this, you should be able to determine what their ideal resting period is.
- Distance Travelled to Race: Now this may seem a little obscure and you’ve got to look a little deeper at this one as there are two reasons behind it. The first being that some horses simply don’t travel well and a long trip can make them anxious and perform poorly. The second is a little more ‘trickier’. Let’s say Joe Bloggs was willing to take his horse all the way from Brighton to Newcastle – the length of the country – for one race. Why would he bother? Well, he must certainly think the horse has a very good chance. Watch out for trainers willing to ship their horses’ long distances especially for less popular events.
- Recent Results and Stable Form: Winning is a habit and is definitely something that rubs off amongst horses. An inform stable can be massive not only for the horses confidence but also with the calibre of jockeys they can attract. It won’t be much surprise to many canny punters that in the big meets it’s the same trainers often coming out with several winners. This is because if your stable is in form it’s likely they are going to be getting the most out of their horses.
- Bet Smaller Races Over Major Events: There maybe people reading this article of whom the only race they bet on all year is the Grand National and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. However, if you are serious about becoming successful at horse racing betting then it’s these types of races we need to avoid. If you want to place a couple a bets as bit of fun then that’s up to you, but don’t waste your time mulling over potential winners in this race, invest it in smaller races that are likely to yield a higher win percentage.
- Pick Your Races Wisely: Throughout any one day in the UK alone there may be 50 races and then you have races from the US, Australia, New Zealand and Dubai all with substantial markets from most of the larger racebooks. It can be easy to go and bet on a race just because you can. Stick with what you know, do your research on potential horses and back them at horse betting sites if you think they have a chance and are at the right price.
Horse Racing Events Around the World
Horse racing takes place on a daily basis across the world at hundreds of different race courses. Dedicated horse racing bettors will generally look through most race cards every day to try and find stand out bets that offer the most value. Certainly, anyone betting at horse racing sites will never struggle to find an opportunity with the amount of horse races that take place.
Every year, there are prestigious and glamorous major horse races that attract huge audiences. Winning any major horse race, such as those mentioned below, is the pinnacle of achievement for any race horse owner, trainer or jockey.
Major Horse Races in the United States
Horse racing in the United States dates back as far as 1665, when the first American racetrack was built on Long Island. The most famous races in the US are the three that make up the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, namely the Kentucky Derby, the Belmont Stakes, and the Preakness Stakes.
Any horse that wins all three of these races in one calendar year is known as a Triple Crown winner, a feat that has only been achieved by eleven horses in history. American Pharoah earned the coveted Triple Crown title in 2015. The last horse before him was Affirmed way back in 1978.
The Kentucky Derby is the first of these three classics to take place each year. It is held on the first Saturday in May and takes place at the Churchill Downs course in Louisville. The race is run over 1 ¼ miles, and was first ran in 1875. It is often referred to as The Run for The Roses which is a reference to the blanket of roses which is draped over the winning horse.
Together with the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes, the Kentucky Derby is part of the US Triple Crown, or The Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing. The Kentucky Derby is the first of the three to be run each year, with the Preakness Stakes coming next and then the Belmont Stakes. Just 11 horses have won the US Triple Crown, and it has been many years since the feat was last achieved.
The first Kentucky Derby was run in 1875 and was won by the colt Aristides, ridden by Oliver Lewis. The inaugural Kentucky Derby was run over a distance of 1.5 miles; the same distance as the Epsom Derby in England which had been the inspiration for the race. It was in 1896 that the distance of the race was adjusted to its current format of 1.24 miles. Over the years, the race grew in stature and popularity and in 1952 it was televised nationally for the first time.
The Kentucky Derby is sometimes referred to as “The Run for the Roses”. This phrase relates to the blanket of 554 red roses that is awarded each year to the winner of the race – a tradition that originated way back in 1883. There are a number of traditions that play an important part in the Kentucky Derby. For example, the University of Louisville Marching Band plays “My Old Kentucky Home” each year as the horses are paraded in front of the grandstand, a custom that began in 1924 and has been honoured since. The race even has a traditional drink – the Mint Julep, an iced drink with bourbon, mint and sugar syrup.
Next up is the Preakness Stakes which is run over nine-and-a-half furlongs at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. The Preakness Stakes is run on the third Saturday in May and is typically the second most watched horse race of the year in America, behind the Kentucky Derby.
Betting on the Preakness often is a better idea than betting on the first leg of the Triple Crown. It’s said the Kentucky Derby is the graveyard of favorites, because the field is so large. A few horses in that race tend to lose before the race starts, simply because of the gate number they draw. The Preakness tends to have a smaller field, while gamblers have more information to put to use.
The third and final leg of the Triple Crown is the Belmont Stakes. This is always run three weeks after the Preakness Stakes and takes place at Belmont Park in Elmont in New York. It is the oldest established of these three classics having first been run back in 1867. It is also run over the greatest distance at 1 ½ miles.
Betting on the Belmont Stakes is fraught with peril. If a horse wins the first two legs of the Triple Crown, it’s natural to assume that horse is ready to make history. Only an incredibly talent wins the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, as those two races are quite different challenges and they come within a short two-week period.
Other US Races
Other major horse races in the United States include the Kentucky Oaks and the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The Kentucky Oaks is for fillies and is run the day before the Kentucky Derby each year. The Breeder’s Cup Classic is the biggest race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which is held at a different racetrack each year. It offers one of the biggest purses in world horse racing at $5 million.
Major Horse Races in the United Kingdom
Horse racing in the UK has hundreds of years of history and has a fanatical following. There are two distinct types of racing in the UK – flat racing and jump racing. Traditionally, races are run over turf but there are also a number of all-weather tracks in the UK these days. There are around 60 racecourses in the United Kingdom, the oldest being Chester racecourse which is nearly 500 years old.
The most famous race in the UK is the Grand National, a National Hunt race that is known the world over. It is held every year at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, England over 4 miles and 856 yards. It generally takes place on one of the first two Saturdays in April. Race horses taking part in the Grand National have to jump thirty fences over two circuits of the course and it is a race famed for many fallers. Just finishing the Grand National is an achievement for any jockey, winning it is an ambition held by many a jump jockey.
It is the richest National Hunt race in Britain, with a prize pool of around £1,000,000. The Grand National has been run each year at Aintree since 1839, with just a few exceptions; during the First World War it was held at Gatwick Racecourse and it was cancelled during the Second World War.
There has been just one other year without a Grand National winner, when the race was declared void in 1993. Out of the 39 runners, 30 continued after a false start was called and 7 went on to complete the course, with Esha Ness finishing first past the post. The horse won’t go down in the record books as a Grand National winner, unfortunately, and the race was not re-run. The 1993 Grand National is known as the race that never was and bookmakers had to return approximately £75 million worth of wagers.
The course at Aintree is triangular in shape and, during the Grand National, all but two of the sixteen fences are jumped twice. The Grand National is widely regarded as a very challenging race and a true test of horse and jockey. Each year, many of the starters fail to complete the two circuits, as the fences are notoriously difficult – particularly The Chair, Canal Turn and Becher’s Brook. The 1928 Grand National was famously won by Tipperary Tim, when 41 out of the 42 runners all fell. Only one other horse – Billy Barton – also finished, after the jockey remounted following a fall.
Only one horse has won the Grand National three times – the infamous Red Rum. Red Rum won the National in 1973, 1974 and 1977, and also finished second in 1975 and 1976. The first win for Red Rum, 1973, is considered one of the most memorable finishes ever in the Grand National. With just one fence to jump, Red Rum was a good fifteen lengths behind the leader (Crisp) before taking huge strides during the run in and winning by just three quarters of a length. That day Red Rum also set a new record for the fastest completion time of the Grand National , which was then not beaten for sixteen years.
The 2019 Grand National runs from Thursday, 4 April through Saturday 6 April at Aintree.
The large fields make picking the winner tough but, as always, there is a lot of interest from bettors in the race. As we have seen in previous races, any horse can win to create major paydays for their backers. If you do fancy a flutter then make sure you sign up at a reputable online bookmaker and stick with my recommended Grand National betting sites. They will keep your money safe and pay at full odds if you pick correctly.
The Epsom Derby, generally referred to in the UK as just The Derby, is the most prestigious of the British Classics. The British Classics consist of five flat races, each of which is held annually. The other four races which make up the group are the 2000 Guineas Stakes, the 1000 Guineas Stakes, the Epsom Oaks and the St. Leger Stakes.
The Epsom Derby was the first “Derby”, a term that has since been used by many other major horse races. It is considered one of Britain’s greatest sporting events and attracts an audience across the globe. It was first run back in 1780 when it was won by Diomed. Since then, it has gone on to be one of the most competitive horse races in the world. It takes place at Epsom Downs each year, in early June.
Also held at Epsom Downs during June is the Epsom Oaks, another of the British Classics. The Epsom Oaks was first held the year before the inaugural Derby and was won by Bridget. Bridget was owned by the 12th Earl of Derby, after whom the Epsom Derby was named. The Epsom Oaks is open to three year old fillies and is run over a distance of just over 1 mile and 4 furlongs.
The first two British Classics of the year are held towards the end of May or early April at Newmarket. The 2,000 Guineas Stakes comes first – run over exactly one mile and open to three year old colts and fillies. The 1,000 Guineas Stakes is next, also run over one mile but open to fillies only.
The fifth, and final, of the British Classics is the St. Leger Stakes, held at Doncaster in England. At just over 1 mile and 6 furlongs, this race is the longest of the classics. It is also the oldest of the five having first been established in 1776. The race is open for both colts and fillies and is named after Antony St. Leger who devised the event.
The Cheltenham Festival is among the most celebrated race meets on the National Hunt racing calendar. This four day festival takes place annually at the Cheltenham Racecourse in Gloucestershire, England. The pinnacle of the festival is the Cheltenham Gold Cup, which is run on the final day.
The Cheltenham Festival was historically run over just three days, but this was changed in 2005. There are four championship races, and one is run on each of the four days. The Cheltenham Gold Cup was established in 1924 and was the first Championship race to take place at the festival. This remains the premier race of the Cheltenham Festival and is run on the Friday each year. 1927 saw the introduction of the Champion Hurdle, which is the first Championship race to be run at the festival each year on the Tuesday. Wednesday see the running of the Queen Mother Champion Chase, first run in 1958. The most recently introduced of the four races is the World Hurdle (also known as the Stayers Hurdle) which was established in 1972 and takes place on the Thursday each year.
Each year, the jockey who wins the most races during the Cheltenham Festival is named as the top jockey for the festival. There have been some illustrious names to win the top jockey award at Cheltenham Festival, and most recently Ruby Walsh has been dominant – having been named top jockey six out of the eight festivals between 2004 and 2011.
In contrast to many of the top flat racing events in the UK and Ireland, the Cheltenham Festival does not tend to attract much in the way of internationally trained horses. There have been some French trained horses do well – most notably Baracouda who twice won the World Hurdle – and some horses from Australia and the US do make the trip. However, the vast majority of the horses that compete at the Cheltenham Festival are trained in either Britain or Ireland.
Major Horse Races in Europe
European horse racing has a rich history and is host to some major horse races throughout the year. Horse racing is particularly popular in France and Ireland, where many of the top race horses are bred. Hungary, Italy and Poland also have long standing horse racing traditions.
The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, generally referred to as The Arc, is arguably the most famous horse race in Europe. It is held annually in France, at the Longchamp Racecourse, on the first Sunday in October. It is the richest horse race in Europe with a prize fund of €4million and is one of the most watched horse races in the world. The Arc is a flat race open to thoroughbreds of at least three years old and run over approximately 1.5 miles. It was first run in 1920, when it was won by a horse called Comrade.
Also held at Longchamp is the Grand Prix de Paris, which is contested by three year old colts and fillies over a distance of 2,400 meters. Established in 1863, the Grand Prix used to be the premier horse race in France until the introduction of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. It is usually held on July 14th to coincide with the French national holiday of Bastille Day.
Horse racing in Ireland primarily revolves around jump racing. Indeed it was in Ireland that point to point to racing – the amateur version of National Hunt Racing – was established back in the 19th century. The thoroughbred breeding industry is very prosperous in Ireland and the country is home to the main operation of Coolmore Stud, the largest thoroughbred stud in the world.
There are 26 race courses in Ireland hosting a number of racing festivals throughout the year. The Fairyhouse festival stages the most valuable horse race in Ireland, the Irish Grand National, which is held each year on Easter Sunday. The Punchestown racetrack is home to one of the most popular race meetings, the five day Punchestown Festival which features the Guinness Gold Cup.
The Irish Derby is another major race in Ireland, and is held in June at Curragh Racecourse. This race has been established since 1866 but was not considered a major international race until 1962, when the prize money on offer was greatly increased.
Also run at Curragh is the Irish Oaks, a flat race open to three year old fillies. It takes place each year in July, over a distance of 1 mile and 4 furlongs. This event was established back in 1895 as Ireland’s answer to the Epsom Oaks, one of the more famous races in England.
Major Horse Races in Australia
Horse racing is a very popular spectator sport in Australia and the country is considered one of the top racing nations in the world. With a phenomenal 360 racecourses across Australia, horse racing is the third most attended sport in the country. It has been well established as a sport in this part of the world since early settlement days.
The most popular race in Australia by quite some margin is the Melbourne Cup, often referred to as “the race that stops a nation”. It is one of the richest turf races in the world and is held at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne. This horse race is open to three year olds and over and is run over a distance of 3,200 meters. It is held annually on the first Tuesday in November.
The Melbourne Cup was first held in 1861 and was contested by 17 horses and won by the stallion Archer. The same horse also went on the win the race the following year. The race has gone on to become a major horse racing event not just in Australia, where there is a national holiday to coincide with the race, but all over the world.
The first ever Melbourne Cup took place in November 1861, with a winner takes all prize of 710 gold sovereigns and a gold watch. It was contested by seventeen runners and was won by a stallion called Archer, ridden by John Cutts. The same horse returned the following year to win the second Melbourne Cup, which was fast becoming a popular race with the spectators. Archer travelled to Melbourne again in 1873, but was scratched from the race on a technicality when the form for his entry arrived late. Many other horses were withdrawn from the race in a show of solidarity, and the third Melbourne Cup had just seven starters – a low that has never been matched since.
Since Archer, only four other horses have won the Melbourne Cup horse race twice; Peter Pan, Rain Lover, Think Big and Makybe Diva. Makybe Diva is the most recent of these, winning for the second time in 2004 and becoming the first mare to do so, and also the first to win the race with different trainers. 2005 saw another first for Makybe Diva, becoming the only horse to ever have won the Melbourne Cup three times.
The Melbourne Cup is without doubt one of the most popular horse race betting and spectator events in the whole of Australia. The race regularly attracts crowds over 100,000, with the highest recorded crowd watching in 2003 when Makybe Diva won the race for the first time. 2003 also saw the launch of the Melbourne Cup Tour – initiated to recognise the contribution the Melbourne Cup has made to racing culture in Australia. During the Melbourne Cup Tour, the trophy is taken on display around communities in Australia and New Zealand. As part of the strategy to internationally promote the Melbourne Cup Carnival internationally, the tour also extends to various cities around the world.
In recognition of just how important the Melbourne Cup to residents of Melbourne, the day of the race is a public holiday for everyone that works in the city. Some regional parts of the state of Victoria also recognise the day as a public holiday, and across the whole nation it is considered a very special event.
The Australian Derby is held annually in Sydney at the Randwick Racecourse. This turf race takes place in late March or early April and has been won by some of the greatest Australian race horses such as Phar Lap. It was established in 1861 and originally called the AJC Randwick Derby Stakes, before being changed to the AJC Australia Derby Stakes. It officially became known as the Australian Derby in 1994 but is still referred to by many as the AJC Derby.
Also held at Randwick Racecourse is the AJC Australian Oaks. This horse race is contested over 2,400 meters and is open to three year old fillies. It takes place in April as part of the Sydney autumn racing carnival. The Australian Cup, run at Flemington Racecourse, takes place the month before in March. It is run over 2,000 metres and has been established since 1861.
Horse racing is also popular in neighboring country New Zealand, which is home to 59 racecourses. The richest horse race in New Zealand is the New Zealand Derby which is run over 2,400 meters at Ellerslie Racecourse in Auckland. It takes place annually on the first Saturday in March with a prize purse of AUS$2.2 million.
Major Horse Races in Asia and the Middle East
The Asian region is also home to some serious horse racing betting action. China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and the United Arab Emirates all have regular horse racing calendars and the sport has a big fan base throughout these countries.
The richest horse race in the world occurs in the UAE. The Dubai World Cup, established in 1996, is run annually at the Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It has a purse of $10 million and was created by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai. The race is 2,000 meters, approximately 10 furlongs, and is run on a synthetic surface. The Meydan Racecourse was opened in 2010 and is the largest racecourse in the world.
Japan is host to many horse races throughout the year at thirty different racecourses across the country. The most prestigious of these races is the Japan Cup, which takes place in November each year. It is held at the Tokyo Racecourse and is run over 1.5 miles for a purse of around $6 million. The Japan Cup is an invitational event and is widely respected as a horse race of international importance.
Asia may not have the same long history of horse racing as some other parts of the world, but there are some fantastic races that take place in the continent every year. There is a huge amount of money involved in Asian horse racing and the sport continues to grow in popularity and stature.
It is not easy to consistently win money at horse racing betting websites, but it is most definitely possible. Doing so requires more than a little dedication and commitment. To be a successful in the long run, you need to know the form book inside out and have an in-depth knowledge of not just horses, but the courses they run, the jockeys who ride them and their trainers.
That being said, it is possible to win money in the short term without the same amount of hard work. By just spending a bit of time looking at the race card and the form of the horses, you can make an informed prediction of the outcome of any given race and give yourself a reasonable chance of backing a winner.
One important aspect of betting on horse racing is knowing which races to bet on and which to leave alone. A successful handicapper always chooses his wagers wisely and looks for payout odds that don’t accurately reflect a horse’s true chances of victory.