Horse racing can be complicated if you’re new to the sport, and those who aren’t already fans may know of the Grand National and not much more. But there’s a host of facts and history surrounding horse racing, making it a fun sport to get into. Here are 13 things you may not already know about horse racing.

  1. Universally, a northern hemisphere racehorse’s birthday is the 1st January, regardless of when it was born. Thoroughbreds are considered one year old on 1st January the year after their birth and age one year on each January thereafter. This is so that horses can be grouped into age categories for races and competitions more easily, as many races are restricted to certain age groups.
  2. The Belmont Stakes are part of the Triple Crown and are referred to as the ‘Test of the Champion’. This is due to the Belmont Stakes being the longest of the three races which form the Triple Crown competition, leading to the horses who race it to really be put to their limits in terms of stamina, endurance and speed. The Belmont is also the oldest of the three races, dating back to 1867.
  3. Racehorses typically live for around 30 years, but in terms of their racing career, they tend to stop racing at around age 9. These animals are most certainly athletes and their have a prime age bracket in which to compete, but no racehorses over the age of 18 has ever won a race.
  4. Horse racing may seem like a modern sport, but it actually dates back far further than you might think. There’s evidence to suggest that horses were being raced as long ago as 4,500 B.C. in ancient Greece, where references to the activity can be found depicted on pottery and in literary works by Homer.
  5. The average weight of a horse is around 1,000lbs. So, if you think that jockeys have an easy job, consider the task they have in controlling and riding a huge animal such as this at speeds of 40 miles per hour!
  6. The largest prize for a horse racing event is the Pegasus World Cup which takes place in the USA. The purse for this race was $16 million in 2018, making it one of the most prestigious races in the world.
  7. Only 12 horses have won the Triple Crown – the most recent was American Pharaoh in 2015, which ended a 37-year drought between the last winner back in 1978.
  8. Racehorses which retire from the sport typically become dressage horses and even gold cup winning horses have gone on to do so.
  9. Horse racing is a sport that gains popularity more and more each year with countless bets placed at timeform.com and hundreds of other sites, and over 10 million people watching the Grand National in 2016 – a figure that continues to rise.
  10. Thoroughbred horses can be traced back to Arabian horses which were bred with English horses for their speed, agility and determination in races.
  11. The slowest recorded time for a winning horse was in 1945 when Never Mind II won a two-mile race in 11m 28s.

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