Whether you’re a novice horseplayer or a veteran, there are a lot of different factors that determine the outcome of a horse race. Some of the most important factors include luck, skill, age, and gender. Depending on the national organization that is running the race, different rules can apply. These differences can be confusing to the beginner, but they are important to know.
The first documented horse race was a mounted bareback race. It was recorded in the Greek Olympic Games in 700 to 40 B.C. In the Middle East, races of horses were popularized. They were often called National Hunt, or Jump Racing. It is believed that the Middle Eastern sires that were imported into England led to the development of the new breed, the Thoroughbred.
A typical handicapping weight for the era was 140 pounds. This weight was based on the weight of the jockey and the riding tack. Many jockeys were young male slaves. In the 19th century, the amount of money put up for a race was outrageous.
In 1751, five-year-olds carrying 140 pounds were admitted to the King’s Plates, a standardized race. The original King’s Plates were a 4-mile heat. These races were the precursor to the modern-day Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes.
A second prize was also added. As the popularity of the races grew, more fields of horses were added. The third and fourth prizes were added as the competition got tougher.
As the competition became more competitive, the number of yards between the finish line and the start line became important. The fastest horses covered four miles in about eight minutes. The heats were reduced to two miles. Eventually, the distance between the finish line and the start line was eliminated altogether. The next major change occurred in the 19th century.
A jockey’s whip was used to spur the horse on to go faster. It was controversial. Some countries limit the amount of whipping a jockey can use to avoid distressing the horse. Others allow it as much as they want.
When a race is held on a dirt track, the horses can wear headgear to muffle the noise of the race. The race is considered dangerous because of the high speed. The pressure placed on the horse’s legs on the track causes cracks in the leg bones.
The sport of Thoroughbred racing has a long history in the United States. It began in Maryland and Virginia. The horse owners of these areas believed that their races were superior to those in Maryland and Virginia. They were also attracted by the blooded horses that were seen in the colonies. The American Thoroughbred race continued until the Civil War.
After the Civil War, the goal of speed was a focal point. Dash racing was introduced, requiring a skilled rider. This type of racing lasted until the 1860s, when the Heat Racing of four-year-olds was discontinued.
The British aristocracy also played a role in the development of the Thoroughbred. The sport was introduced to the United States with the help of Col. Richard Nicolls. He laid out a 2-mile course on the plains of Long Island. He also offered a silver cup to the best horses.