Horse racing


Horse racing is an equestrian performance sport, typically involving two or more horses ridden by jockeys (or sometimes driven without riders) over a set distance for competition. It is one of the most ancient of all sports, as its basic premise – to identify which of two or more horses is the fastest over a set course or distance – has been unchanged since at least classical antiquity.

Horse races vary widely in format and many countries have developed their own particular traditions around the sport. Variations include restricting races to particular breeds, running over obstacles, running over different distances, running on different track surfaces and running in different gaits.

While horses are sometimes raced purely for sport, a major part of horse racing’s interest and economic importance is in the gambling associated with it, an activity that in 2008 generated a worldwide market worth around US$115 billion.


Horse racing has a long and distinguished history and has been practised in civilisations across the world since ancient times. Archaeological records indicate that horse racing occurred in Ancient GreeceBabylonSyria, and Egypt. It also plays an important part of myth and legend, such as the contest between the steeds of the god Odin and the giant Hrungnir in Norse mythology.

Chariot racing was one of the most popular ancient GreekRoman and Byzantine sports. Both chariot and mounted horse racing were events in the ancient Greek Olympics by 648 BC and were important in the other Panhellenic Games. It continued although chariot racing was often dangerous to both driver and horse, which frequently suffered serious injury and even death. In the Roman Empire, chariot and mounted horse racing were major industries. From the mid-fifteenth century until 1882, spring carnival in Rome closed with a horse race. Fifteen to 20 riderless horses, originally imported from the Barbary Coast of North Africa, were set loose to run the length of the Via del Corso, a long, straight city street; their time was about ​2 12 minutes.


  1. Differing national horse racing organizations may have differing rules concerning how horse races should be run. However, by and large, the vast majority of rulebooks are very similar with many being based on the British Horseracing Authority’s original rulebook .
    • All flat races must be started from starting stalls or a starting gate.
    • All steeple chases, hurdle races, and jump races must be started with a starting gate or a flag (requires special permission).
    • In extraordinary or emergency circumstances, any horse race, regardless of type, may be started with a flag as long as the starter decides this or the steward’s permission has been sought.
    • A false start will be declared if the starter considers that a horse has broken away before the race has started.
    • Riders must then attempt to ride their horses to the best of their ability in an attempt to win the race. Disqualifications and further sanctions may occur if, in the steward’s opinion, the rider has not done this.
    • Riders must ride in a safe manner and follow the prescribed course, jumping every hurdle (if present).
    • To complete the race, a rider must cross the finish line on his horse.
    • Depending upon the particular race, there will usually be an amount of prize money to be split amongst the first, second and third finishers.


  • Perhaps the most important piece of ‘equipment’ in horse racing is the horse. Those suitable for horse racing include Thoroughbreds, Arabian horses, and Quarter horses. Differing national organizations may have their own rules as to what horses can compete.
  • All riders wear a helmet and all carry a whip too. This can be a controversial piece of equipment as it is used to whip the horse to spur it on to go faster. In some countries, jockeys are allowed to use the whip whenever and as much as they like, although some countries like the UK limit the number of times it can be used to prevent any distress to the horse.


  • Associationof Racing Commissioners International.
  • Oregon Racing
  • The American Quarter Horse Association.
  • United States Trotting Association.
  • California Thoroughbred Breeders Association.
  • Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, Inc.


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