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Thoroughbred horse racing is a worldwide sport and industry involving the racing of Thoroughbred horses. It is governed by different national bodies. There are two forms of the sport: Flat racing and jump racing, called National Hunt racing in the UK and steeplechasing in the US. Jump racing can be further divided into hurdling and steeplechasing.
Sport includes all forms of competitive physical activity or games which, through casual or organised participation, aim to use, maintain or improve physical ability and skills while providing enjoyment to participants, and in some cases, entertainment for spectators. Hundreds of sports exist, from those between single contestants, through to those with hundreds of simultaneous participants, either in teams or competing as individuals. In certain sports such as racing, many contestants may compete, simultaneously or consecutively, with one winner; in others, the contest is between two sides, each attempting to exceed the other. Some sports allow a "tie" or "draw", in which there is no single winner; others provide tie-breaking methods to ensure one winner and one loser. A number of contests may be arranged in a tournament producing a champion. Many sports leagues make an annual champion by arranging games in a regular sports season, followed in some cases by playoffs.
Industry is the production of goods or related services within an economy. The major source of revenue of a group or company is the indicator of its relevant industry. When a large group has multiple sources of revenue generation, it is considered to be working in different industries. Manufacturing industry became a key sector of production and labour in European and North American countries during the Industrial Revolution, upsetting previous mercantile and feudal economies. This came through many successive rapid advances in technology, such as the production of steel and coal.
Horse racing is an equestrian performance sport, typically involving two or more horses ridden by jockeys 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.
Traditionally racehorses have been owned by very wealthy individuals. It has become increasingly common in the last few decades for horses to be owned by syndicates or partnerships. Notable examples include the 2005 Epsom Derby winner Motivator, owned by the Royal Ascot Racing Club, 2003 Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide, owned by a group of 10 partners organized as Sackatoga Stable. 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown, owned by IEAH stables, a horse racing hedgefund organization.
The Derby Stakes, officially the Investec Derby, popularly known as the Derby, is a Group 1 flat horse race in England open to three-year-old thoroughbred colts and fillies. It is run at Epsom Downs Racecourse in Surrey over a distance of one mile, four furlongs and 6 yards, on the first Saturday of June each year.
Motivator is a retired British Thoroughbred racehorse and active sire. In a racing career which lasted from August 2004 until October 2005 he ran seven times and won four races. He is best known as the winner of the 2005 Epsom Derby. He was retired to stud where he sired the dual Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Treve.
The Kentucky Derby, is a horse race that is held annually in Louisville, Kentucky, United States, on the first Saturday in May, capping the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival. The race is a Grade I stakes race for three-year-old Thoroughbreds at a distance of one and a quarter miles (2.0 km) at Churchill Downs. Colts and geldings carry 126 pounds and fillies 121 pounds.
Historically, most race horses were bred and raced by their owners. Beginning after World War II, the commercial breeding industry became significantly more important in North America, Europe and Australasia, with the result that a substantial portion of Thoroughbreds are now sold by their breeders, either at public auction or through private sales. Additionally, owners may acquire Thoroughbreds by "claiming" them out of a race (see discussion of types of races below).
A horse runs in the unique colours of its owner. These colours must be registered under the national governing bodies and no two owners may have the same colours. The rights to certain colour arrangements ("cherished colours") are valuable in the same way that distinctive car registration numbers are of value. It is said that Sue Magnier (owner of George Washington, Galileo etc.) paid £50,000 for her distinctive dark blue colours.If an owner has more than one horse running in the same race then some slight variant in colours is often used (normally a different coloured cap) or the race club colours may be used.
The horse owner typically pays a monthly retainer or, in North America, a "day rate" to his or her trainer, together with fees for use of the training center or gallops (if the horse is not stabled at a race track), veterinarian and farrier (horseshoer) fees and other expenses such as mortality insurance premiums, stakes entry fees and jockeys' fees. The typical cost of owning a race horse in training for one year is in the order of £15,000 in the United Kingdom and as much as $35,000 at major race tracks in North America.
A horse trainer is a person who tends to horses and teaches them different disciplines. Some of the responsibilities trainers have are caring for the animals’ physical needs, as well as teaching them submissive behaviors and/or coaching them for events, which may include contests and other riding purposes. The level of education and the yearly salary they can earn for this profession may differ depending on where the person is employed.
A farrier is a specialist in equine hoof care, including the trimming and balancing of horses' hooves and the placing of shoes on their hooves, if necessary. A farrier combines some blacksmith's skills with some veterinarian's skills to care for horses' feet.
A jockey is someone who rides horses in horse racing or steeplechase racing, primarily as a profession. The word also applies to camel riders in camel racing.
The facilities available to trainers vary enormously. Some trainers have only a few horses in the yard and pay to use other trainers' gallops. Other trainers have every conceivable training asset. It is a feature of racing that a modest establishment often holds its own against the bigger players even in a top race. This is particularly true of national hunt racing.
In 1976, Canadian Bound became the first Thoroughbred yearling racehorse ever to be sold for more than US$1 million when he was purchased at the Keeneland July sale by Canadians, Ted Burnett and John Sikura, Jr.
Canadian Bound was the first Thoroughbred yearling racehorse ever to be sold for more than US$1 million. He was part of the first crop of foals Secretariat. He proved to be of little use as a racehorse, managing one second-place finish in three starts in France and running unplaced in his only race in the United States.
The Thoroughbred is a horse breed best known for its use in horse racing. Although the word thoroughbred is sometimes used to refer to any breed of purebred horse, it technically refers only to the Thoroughbred breed. Thoroughbreds are considered "hot-blooded" horses that are known for their agility, speed, and spirit.
A yearling is a young horse either male or female that is between one and two years old. Yearlings are comparable in development to a very early adolescent and are not fully mature physically. While they may be in the earliest stages of sexual maturity, they are considered too young to be breeding stock.
Racing is governed on an All-Ireland basis, with two bodies sharing organising responsibility. The Turf Club is the rulemaking and enforcement body, whilst Horse Racing Ireland governs and promotes racing. In 2013, Ireland exported more than 4,800 Thoroughbreds to 37 countries worldwide with a total value in excess of €205 million ($278 million). This is double the number of horses exported annually from the U.S.
In Great Britain, Thoroughbred horse racing is governed by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) which makes and enforces the rules, issues licences or permits to trainers and jockeys, and runs the races through their race course officials. The Jockey Club in the UK has been released from its regulatory function but still performs various supporting roles.
A significant part of the BHA's work relates to the disciplining of trainers and jockeys, including appeals from decisions made by the course stewards. Disciplinary enquiries usually relate to the running of a horse, for example: failure to run a horse on its merits, interference with other runners, excessive use of the whip. The emergence of internet betting exchanges has created opportunities for the public to lay horses and this development has been associated with some high-profile disciplinary proceedings.
In order to run under rules a horse must be registered at Weatherbys as a Thoroughbred. It must also reside permanently at the yard of a trainer licensed by the BHA or a permit holder. Similarly the horse's owner or owners must be registered as owners.
Regulation and control of racing in the United States is highly fragmented. Generally, a state government entity in each American state that conducts racing will license owners, trainers and others involved in the industry, set racing dates, and enforce drug restrictions and other rules.Pedigree matters and the registration of racing colors, however, are the province of The Jockey Club, which maintains the American Stud Book and approves the names of all Thoroughbreds.
The National Steeplechase Association is the official sanctioning body of American steeplechase horse racing.
Regulation of horse racing in Canada is under the Jockey Club of Canada. There are a few racing venues across Canada, but the major events are mainly in Ontario and managed by the Woodbine Entertainment Group, formerly Ontario Jockey Club. While British Columbia's major venue is Hastings Racecourse with popular events like the annual BC Derby.
Thoroughbred racing is divided into two codes: flat racing and jump races. The most significant races are categorised as Group races or Graded stakes races. Every governing body is free to set its own standards, so the quality of races may differ. Horses are also run under different conditions, for example Handicap races, Weight for Age races or Scale-Weight. Some of the most prestigious races in the world, such as the Grand National or Melbourne Cup are run as handicaps.
Flat races can be run under varying distances and on different terms. Historically, the major flat racing countries were Australia, England, Ireland, France and the United States, but other countries, such as Japan and the United Arab Emirates, have emerged in recent decades. Some countries and regions have a long tradition as major breeding centers, namely Ireland and Kentucky.
In Europe and Australia, virtually all major races are run on turf (grass) courses, while in the United States, dirt surfaces (or, lately, artificial surfaces such as Polytrack) are prevalent. In Canada, South America and Asia, both surface types are common.
Jump races and steeplechases, called National Hunt racing in the United Kingdom and Ireland, are run over long distances, usually from two miles (3,200 m) up to four and a half miles (7,200 m), and horses carry more weight. Many jump racers, especially those bred in France, are not Thoroughbreds, being classified as AQPS. Novice jumping races involve horses that are starting out a jumping career, including horses that previously were trained in flat racing. National Hunt racing is distinguished between hurdles races and chases: the former are run over low obstacles and the latter over larger fences that are much more difficult to jump. National Hunt races are started by flag, which means that horses line up at the start behind a tape. Jump racing is popular in the UK, Ireland, France and parts of Central Europe, but only a minor sport or completely unknown in most other regions of the world. National Hunt flat races (or "bumpers") without fences or hurdles are also staged to provide experience for horses which have not taken part in flat racing.
In the world's major Thoroughbred racing countries, breeding of racehorses is a huge industry providing over a million jobs worldwide. While the attention of horseracing fans and the media is focused almost exclusively on the horse's performance on the racetrack or for male horses, possibly its success as a sire, little publicity is given to the brood mares. Such is the case of La Troienne, one of the most important mares of the 20th century to whom many of the greatest Thoroughbred champions, and dams of champions can be traced.
Horse racing is the second largest spectator sport in Great Britain, and one of the longest established, with a history dating back many centuries. It generates over £3.7 billion for the British economy, and the major horse racing events such as Royal Ascot and Cheltenham Festival are important dates in the British and international sporting and society calendar.
Flat racing is a form of horse racing which is run on a level racecourse. It is run over a predetermined distance from 2 furlongs (402 m) up to 3 miles (4,828 m) and is either test of speed, stamina, or both, whilst the skills of the jockey is determined by his ability to restrain the horse or impel it. Flat racing does not require horses to jump over any obstacles such as is required for hurdling or steeplechase. It differs from harness racing where horses are pulling a sulky and wear a harness. While in many countries flat racing is the most common form of horse racing, in Great Britain and Ireland it is used to describe the racing season that comes after the jumps racing which is traditionally held over the winter period.
Thoroughbred horse racing is an important spectator sport in Australia, and gambling on horse races is a very popular pastime with A$14.3 billion wagered in 2009/10 with bookmakers and the Totalisator Agency Board (TAB). The two forms of Thoroughbred horseracing in Australia are flat racing, and races over fences or hurdles in Victoria and South Australia. Thoroughbred racing is the third most attended spectator sport in Australia, behind Australian rules football and rugby league, with almost two million admissions to 360 registered racecourses throughout Australia in 2009/10. Horseracing commenced soon after European settlement, and is now well-appointed with automatic totalizators, starting gates and photo finish cameras on nearly all Australian racecourses.
Golden Miller (1927–1957) was a Thoroughbred racehorse who is the most successful Cheltenham Gold Cup horse ever, winning the race in five consecutive years between 1932 and 1936. He also is the only horse to win both of the United Kingdom's premier steeplechase races - the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National - in the same year (1934).
Teenoso was an American-bred British-trained Thoroughbred racehorse. After showing moderate form as a two-year-old he improved in the spring of 1983 to win the Group Three Lingfield Derby Trial and then won the Classic Epsom Derby, giving Lester Piggott a record ninth win in the race. Teenoso was beaten in his two remaining races that year but showed his best form as a four-year-old, winning the Ormonde Stakes, the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and, on his final appearance, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. He proved to be a disappointment at stud.
In horse racing in the United Kingdom, France and Ireland, National Hunt racing requires horses to jump fences and ditches. National Hunt racing in the UK is informally known as "jumps" and is divided into two major distinct branches: hurdles and steeplechases. Alongside these there are "bumpers", which are National Hunt flat races. In a hurdles race, the horses jump over obstacles called hurdles; in a steeplechase the horses jump over a variety of obstacles that can include plain fences, water jump or an open ditch. In the UK the biggest National Hunt events of the year are generally considered to be the Grand National at Aintree and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Rising Fast was an outstanding New Zealand-bred Thoroughbred racehorse. In 1954 he became the only horse in history to win the Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate races in the same season - the Spring Grand Slam - and since that time no Melbourne Cup winner has performed such a feat. He returned in 1955, again winning the Caulfield Cup but coming an unlucky second in the Melbourne Cup.
Weight for Age (WFA) is a term in Thoroughbred horse racing which is one of the conditions for a race. It means that a horse will carry a set weight in accordance with the Weight for Age Scale. This weight varies depending on the horse’s age, its sex, the race distance and the month of the year. Weight for age races are usually Group 1 races, races of the highest quality. It is a form of handicapping for horse racing, but within the horse racing industry is not referred to as handicap which is reserved for more general handicapping.
The Whitney Stakes is an American Grade 1 stakes race for Thoroughbred racehorses three years of age and older run at a distance of 1 1⁄8 miles. The current purse is $1,200,000.
Hurricane Run (2002–2016) was a world champion Irish-bred thoroughbred racehorse. He was the second French-trained horse, after his sire Montjeu to win both the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
A steeplechase is a distance horse race in which competitors are required to jump diverse fence and ditch obstacles. Steeplechasing is primarily conducted in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Canada, United States, Australia and France. The name is derived from early races in which orientation of the course was by reference to a church steeple, jumping fences and ditches and generally traversing the many intervening obstacles in the countryside.
The Flying Dutchman (1846–1870) was an English Thoroughbred racehorse and sire. He raced for four seasons between 1848 and 1851, winning all but one of his fifteen races, including The Derby and the St Leger. On his final racecourse appearance he defeated Voltigeur in what was probably the most celebrated match race in the history of British thoroughbred racing, known as The Great Match. He went on to be a success at stud both in Britain and France, where he died in 1870. The Flying Dutchman was regarded by experts as one of the greatest British racehorses of the nineteenth century.
Green Dancer was a French Thoroughbred racehorse.
Charlottown was a Thoroughbred racehorse and sire. In a career which lasted from 1965 until 1967 he ran ten times and won seven reces. He is best known for winning the 1966 Epsom Derby.
Tracery (1909–1924) was an American-bred, British-trained Thoroughbred racehorse and sire, best known for winning the St. Leger Stakes in 1912. In a career which lasted from June 1912 until October 1913 he ran nine times and won six races. After finishing third on his debut in the 1912 Epsom Derby Tracery never lost another completed race at level weights. He won the St. James's Palace Stakes, Sussex Stakes and St. Leger Stakes in 1912 and the Eclipse Stakes and Champion Stakes as a four-year-old in 1913. He was brought down by a protester in the 1913 Ascot Gold Cup. After his retirement from racing he became a highly successful breeding stallion in Britain and Argentina.
The Juvenile Stakes is a Group 3 flat horse race in Ireland open to two-year-old thoroughbreds. It is run over a distance of 1 mile (1,609 metres) at Leopardstown in September.
Sandwich (1928-?) was a British Thoroughbred racehorse that won the classic St Leger Stakes at Doncaster Racecourse in 1931, for owner Earl of Rosebery. By 1931, Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery had died, making this a win for his son, Harry Primrose, 6th Earl of Rosebery. Sandwich was a half-brother to Manna, winner of the 1925 Epsom Derby, and as well as his 1931 St Leger success also won the Chester Vase and King Edward VII Stakes.
Horse racing in Ireland is intricately linked with Irish culture and society. The racing of horses has a long history on the island, being mentioned in some of the earliest texts. Domestically, racing is one of Ireland's most popular spectator sports, while on the international scene, Ireland is one of the strongest producers and trainers of Thoroughbred horses. The Irish horse racing industry is closely linked with that of Great Britain, with Irish horses regularly competing and winning on the British racing circuit.