Racing horses trackside
HORSE racing is an ancient sport with chariot races and mounted races held at the ancient Greek Olympic Games (700 – 40 BC) and organised as public entertainment during the times of the Roman Empire.
Since then the basic concept of horse racing as a sport has undergone little change. It is still a contest of speed and stamina between horses and their riders for the amusement of spectators with the first horse across the finish line declared the winner.
Horse racing in Australia began in the early years of European settlement when horses were revered beyond their practical use of transportation and labour.
The first official race was held at Sydney’s Hyde Park in October 1810 and marked the beginning of Australian’s fascination with these animals.
It is a sport of cultural and social significance and an important part of Australia’s history and folklore.
Stories of legendary horses, jockeys, trainers, breeders and owners are vast, with many books and films depicting the “sport of kings” in our country.
In Australia the style of racing, the distances and the type of events vary.
Most of the racing is done on a flat surface of turf (grass), sand, dirt or the new synthetic Polytrack which consists of sand, synthetic fibres and recycled rubber.
The races range from 800m to 3200m for flat racing, and anything up to 5000m+ for jumps races.
A Flat race is where horses race on a flat surface with no planned obstacles in the way.
A Hurdle race is an event where horses are required to jump over a series of hurdles.
A Steeplechase event is a race where horses are required to jump over a series of obstacles called fences.
Harness racing is conducted with horses racing at a specific gait – a trot or a pace – around a track while pulling a driver in a two-wheeled cart called a sulky.