How horse racing has changed over the years

| November 6, 2019
Changes in horse racing over the years
Horse racing is one of the most popular sports because of its long and rich history.

Horse racing, a sport that has been enjoyed since prehistoric times, is still one of the most popular today. Once dubbed the ‘Sport of Kings’, this sport has a long, interesting history, from its beginnings to modern times. Here’s how it has evolved over time.

Early history

Horse racing is among the oldest games in the world, derived in Mid Asia near 4500 BC. As it stretched to other societies, it gained popularity and had become a common sport throughout the Roman Empire to the whole of Europe in the 1750s (when the first Jockey Club was formed).

Moreover, the first documented record of horse racing as a game could be attributed to the Pan-Hellenic Games and also the old Greek Olympic Games organized in 648 BC. Prominent among rich people due to the heavy cost of rearing horses, horse racing was purely a professional sport with females not allowed to take part as riders or horse instructors.

Development of horse racing

Through the years, horse racing developed into a number of different types. These include the famous flat racing which involves horses galloping along paths between 2 points, either on a horizontal or an oval path in an effort to win. 

It also includes leap racing or steeple chasing, a much more famous form in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Another type of horse racing is harness racing which involves horses trying to pull the rider in a compact, two-wheeled trolley (sulky). The last popular type is stamina racing, where horses travel over larger distances often lasting 40-160 km across nation tracks!

In the 1920s, horses were lined up using something like a tape barrier; however now horses begin the race event from a starting gate. 

Also, the riding styles have changed over the years. Initially every driver, whether a show jumper, a hunter or a jockey, rode in much an identical way. However, as the sport evolved, jockeys adopted a different, slightly hunched, awkward position. The equipment also became more unique for each racing style.

Changes in horse racing

Horse racing has seen some spectacular changes throughout its existence. As time went by, the purchase of horse racing has changed significantly. Here are a few of the major changes the sport has undergone since its inception:

The sport has a long history of pari-mutuel betting where odds vary and nothing being set until the horses exit the starting gate. But now with the legalization of sports gambling throughout the United States, introducing fixed-odds betting could be a boon for horse racing to evolve and compete with other sports.

Take a look at these events with fixed betting odds for Australian bettors. They involve two of the country’s most popular types of racing events; flat and hurdle racing. You could bet on any of them. And because there are multiple bookmakers offering their book, the odds are great.

Traditionally, horse racing has been controlled by a few conglomerates that set odds, regulated betting shops, they pretty much set every rule of the game. For these companies, having control over the industry has helped streamline betting and also increase their bottom lines. 

But for bettors, horse-racing betting shops have too much power and something needs to be done. There have been attempts to evolve the industry to allow more players. With the US legalizing online betting, the future looks bright.

This is not the first time horse racing has needed to overcome the difficulties of its long-standing monopoly on betting. There was also the introduction of lotteries throughout the United States, followed by the spread of casino gambling, which in some regions partially financed horse racing and boosted the vanishing business model.


The horse racing group has been opened up. Whereas earlier, throughout the 1920s, this was largely a sporting event for the wealthy, participation in the sport has now become universal. It involves lots of diverse people from all classes and status levels. The race tracks have become more open to ordinary people than they were in the past as horse racing organizers turned the sport into a serious industry.

Benefits with risks

Although locations like New Jersey’s Monmouth Park also championed and adopted the source, betting is not supposed to be an economic windfall for horse racing. The rise of legalized sports betting since the verdict of the highest court in May 2018 is another danger to the very existence of horse racing. 

As with local and international sports that may have winning bets on them yet do not benefit directly economically from those betting, the horse racing sector is counting on gambling as the lifeblood that maintains everything.

“Our sport is financed by betting, and our competitors should participate in any betting that occurs,” said Alex Waldrop, President, and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. “There might be some hesitation to do so because the pricing structure is very distinct for sports gambling and horse racing. Sports betting doesn’t produce compensation for the service to bet on. That item has other types of income. 

“In sports betting, every other bet positioned at that moment is locked in at risk. Anybody who wants to guess the New York Knicks is gonna wins the 2020 NBA designation right now can get some better odds”.

Such a benefit does not occur in horse racing, whereby lines shift based on a people betting, which might make an apparent long shot a personal favourite and eliminate the opportunity of being on the bottom floor of a necessary upset. 

“It’s very difficult for the handicapper to gamble on a horse and thus the horse heads to the gates at some odds, but then once they raise the starting gate 30 seconds after the odds fall a point, a point and a half,” said coach Tom Amoss, who graduates from LSU with a rank in marketing.

Determining the Odds

In horse racing, the procedure it operates now, the odds are determined by how many bets are in the pools during the moment the race starts. Thus, what you think five minutes before the race, might not be what you get when the race is in progress.

Category: Betting

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