Horse racing is one of the oldest sports on the planet, but even though it dates back thousands of years, it is not evenly spread across the world in terms of popularity.
Over the years, horse racing has developed into a sport with a rich tradition that is carefully nurtured all around the world. It is often called the “Sport of Kings” just because it started as an excursion or a fun activity for the royal and elite people.
Nowadays, horse racing is a billion-dollar industry that started to accelerate in terms of popularity where new countries have joined the fast-moving train of the sport in the development of their own races.
This got us wondering, where is horse racing most popular, and which nations have contributed the most in terms of the success of horse racing?
Let’s find out.
The United Kingdom and Ireland
It is safe to say that horse racing originally started in the United Kingdom and the sport dates back more than 2,000 years to the Roman Empire. However, the race format that is similar to what we are used to nowadays, started in the late 1700s, when the first Jockey Club was formed.
In the United Kingdom, horse racing is the second most popular sport right after football, and it falls into two categories, jump races and flat races.
There are many popular races in the United Kingdom and Ireland that are one of the first ones that started the entire sport.
The British influence throughout the world with their colonies helped to spread the sport across the world, which is how most countries started their own horse racing leagues.
The United Kingdom also had a heavy influence on horse racing in the United States. The first racetrack in the US was formed in 1665 on Long Island and since then, the horse racing craziness started.
Most US races are flat, and the country has a rich history with incredible horses, trainers, and jockeys that wrote the history of the sport. The US is also home to the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes (Triple Crown Series) which are one of the most popular races in the world.
There is no doubt that the United States is one of the biggest nations in terms of horse racing popularity in the world and as you can see, if you click here, there are plenty of events you can bet on every day.
Oddly enough, we move to a different continent, to Japan – a nation that is crazy about horse racing. The fact that they organize around 20,000 races every year says a lot about the popularity of the sport.
Even though flat races are most popular in Japan, they also have steeplechases, and Ben’ei races, where jockeys ride on sleds and the horses drag them up sandy slopes. It is definitely a unique experience you won’t get to see anywhere else in the world. Plus, they have the Japan Cup, one of the most important horse racing events in the world.
As we mentioned before, the British Kingdom influenced Japan’s racing in the 19th century, and since then, Japan has built a league of its own getting much attention in the world of horse racing.
Being a part of the British Commonwealth, it is not surprising that Australia is another country where horse racing flourishes. In addition to the classic flat races and steeplechases, Australians have harness racing where horses pull small chariots behind them just like in Roman times.
If we look at the sport from the spectators’ perspective, horse racing is the third most popular sport in Australia after football and rugby, and there are 350 licensed race tracks scattered around the outback.
Australia also holds the world’s richest horse race “The Everest” which has a prize purse of $15 million and the Melbourne Cup.
Last but not least, we move to another British colony where horse racing is also very popular, surpassing sports like soccer. Since we are talking about a far smaller territory than the other ones we covered, horse racing is a lot more condensed.
Hong Kong has one of the most exciting races on the planet, and its calendar is full of horse racing activities including more than 700 races per year. So, if you are a horse racing enthusiast and want some horse racing action, these are some of the places you should visit.