Flat racing is the most common form of Thoroughbred racing in the world. It has long been a major sport in counties such as the UK, Ireland, Australia and the USA, as well as France, and more recently has become well established in places such as Dubai, Japan, and other Asian countries.
As the name suggest, racing takes place on a flat course and the surface is usually turf or dirt. Synthetic surfaces are also used at some racecourses. Furthermore, some of the most famous horse races in the world are run on the flat, such as the Grand National, the Kentucky Derby, the Melbourne Cup, the Epsom Derby, and the Dubai World Cup.
Which type of horses run in flat racing?
The most common form of horse that races in the flat racing world is Thoroughbred. There are several national authorities that govern the sport within their own regions, such as the British Horse Racing Authority in Great Britain.
The word “thoroughbred” is often used to describe any horse that is pure bred but, in fact, it should only be used to refer to the Thoroughbred breed developed in England several hundred years ago. At that time, mares, otherwise known as female horses were crossbred with stallions, otherwise known as male horses imported specifically for the purpose of breeding racehorses.
Where do Thoroughbred horses come from?
It’s largely accepted that all, or certainly most, Thoroughbred horses have a breeding history that trace back to one of these three horses: Darley Arabian, Godolphin, or Byerly Turk. They were spectacular stallions, effectively the founding sires of the Thoroughbred breed. Historically, only wealthy individuals owned Thoroughbred horses and they were generally bred and raced by a relatively select number of people. The industry has grown significantly since these days, and commercial breeding and training is commonplace in many parts of the world.
Thoroughbreds are typically bred and then sold at public auction or via private sale. Horse owners will generally place their horses with a professional racehorse trainer who will stable, feed, and train them for a monthly fee.
Over the years, horse racing syndicates have become popular. A group of people combine resources to invest in a Thoroughbred horse, or horses, for racing purposes. It’s possible to make money owning race horses, particularly if yours goes on to win a major race, but it’s largely considered to be an expensive hobby.
Why is it so popular?
There are many factors that influence races and race-goers appetite to continue watching the sport but that is mainly down to the skill that the sport has on offer. The jockey and trainer have a great impact on the horses overall performance, meaning that the knowledge that you need to have is extensive and you must know all the different variables that could affect a race.
Flat racing has become one of the most popular sports in the world mainly due to the incredibly large purses and the prestige which is attached to many races. They also form a good basis for legalised gambling and often this forms the very basis of the sport. The average flat horse is retired after three or five years of racing and, if it has done well on the track, it is taken to produce a future champion.
Are there any other forms of flat racing?
Harness racing is another form of flat horse racing where horses pull a two-wheeled cart (known as a sulky.) It’s not as commonplace as flat racing, but it’s reasonably popular in its own right. There are two different types of harness races.
Trot races are more popular in Europe with countries such as France, Belgium, Sweden and Denmark preferring harness racing over jump racing. The faster paced races are typical in America and Australia. A particularly famous harness race is the Prix d’Amérique, held annually in Paris, France.