Horse racing: History, Rules, & Betting

Horse racing: History, Rules, & Betting Horse racing is a speed sport in which two or more horses aim to reach the end line first, it is one of the most ancient sports in history date back to 4500 BC. it’s a widespread assumption that the horses originated in Asia. There is a lot of evidence that proves this belief, on top of them is the spread of horses in all Asian countries, even those that contain arid deserts such as the Arabian Gulf.

In 1206 AD, Emperor Genghis Khan assigned a horse for every soldier to build an entire cavalry army. By horses only, he got the fastest, brutalist, and the most mobile military force in ancient times. This mighty military power managed to conquer 9 million square miles across Asia, Europe, and North Africa!

Although that Genghis Khan is one of the deadliest and most ruthless leaders in history if there was one good deed in his life it would be to bring horses to Europe and North Africa! After horses being spread in the world no similar empire existed, apparently, this made a state of military parity!

There is no clear evidence about the origin of competitive horse racing. But it seems that this sport originated in all civilizations with different rules and ways. The earliest evidence of this sport is in central Asia and dates to 4500 BC. Also, there is other evidence that this sport has been played in Ancient Egypt, Greece, Persia, Turkey, and Poland. As you note, horse racing spread on wealthy civilizations, and that’s why it is known as the “Sport of Kings”.

When Did Horse Racing Betting Originate?

Many historians believe that betting on horse racing began in England in the 17th century. Some other believe that horse racing started in France, during the same century when 2 noblemen wrote a betting contract on horse racing that occurred in 1651. After that, horse racing betting spread in the whole of Europe.

We can say that no sport has been closely linked to gambling like horse racing! Betting on this sport got the attention of kings, gamblers and workers who saw in it a quick way to invest their money and prove their predictions.

At the current time, horse racing betting market hit 3.5 billion dollars in the USA in 2019. As for the online horse racing betting sector, it is likely to achieve higher growth ranging from $130 bn to $140 bn during 2022 – 2025.

The most valuable horse racing in the world at the current time are:

  • The Saudi Cup carries a $20 million purse.
  • Dubai World Cup offers total prize money of $12 million.
  • Pegasus World Cup has a prize pot of $16 million.

What Are the Non Runners in Horse Racing?

Since that most of the horse races occur at relatively close times, jockeys and trainers seek to participate in all of them to obtain the highest profits from these rich races. However, stressed horses usually fail to complete the final training, thus the race management declares them as non-runners. Most likely, if you bet on a horse and he does not participate in the race, the bookmaker will refund your bet stake.

Note that there is a slight difference between the withdrawn and non runner horse, the first one is named to take part in the event and declaration stage. On the other hand, the non runner isn’t listed on the final list. You can find more info on horse racing and non runners from the previous link.

Types of Horse Racing

There are so many types of horse racing in the world that make no one like the other! This is normal, as any slight difference in the terrain or weather will make the race completely different from the rest. However, we can divide horse racing into two main types as follows:

  • Flat Race: A race in which horses run on a flat surface in a straight or circular direction without any obstacles. This race tests a horse’s speed and a jockey’s ability to control it over a long distance at a high speed.
  • Jump Racing: In this race, there are obstacles that the horse must jump over and reach the finish line before the rest of the competitors. Jump racing tests the fitness of the horse and its ability to jump over various obstacles.

What Are Horse Racing Skills?

Horse racing is based on two components; Jockey and horse. For the jockey, he must make a great effort in guiding the horse and stick to the correct sitting position throughout the race to increase the speed of the horse and enhance its ability to penetrate the air faster. Also, the jockey should make decisions to change direction or sprint when needed. As for the horse, he must make a great physical effort to run and jump over obstacles.

Most races have significantly short tracks because they focus on speed testing without any other factors. While longer races (such as the Grand National) require hockey and horses to act tactically. For example, running fast will not help the horse and draining his strength quickly. But it is better to run at a medium speed to be able to jump over obstacles.

Horse Racing Gear

Many types of horses participate in these races, including British horses, Arabian horses, quarter horses, and cross-breeds. These breeds can compete against each other in the same race, but some races may accept one breed only. The horse wears a leather suit and a leather saddle, Jokes wear a helmet and carry a whip. Although the whip is an essential tool in horse dressage, it is highly controversial in racing! Some countries completely prohibit it under pressure from animal rights groups. While other countries, as the UK, set a certain number of whip hits.


Although it is the “Kings’ sports”, horse racing is one of the most popular sports in the world! However, this sport experiences hard times because of the pandemic that cause a full shutdown to all races and animal rights activist’s attacks. Yet this does not change the fact that this sport is very popular among viewers and bettors alike!