Throughout history, horse racing has been practiced in many civilisations. It began as a contest for speed, but eventually developed into a spectacle with large fields of runners. In modern times, the sport has been influenced by technology, such as thermal imaging cameras that detect overheating horses after the race. However, it has remained a significant part of global culture. In Japan, for example, horse-racing enthusiasts anxiously await the annual steeplechase race at Nakayama Grand Jump.
While the exact date of the first horse race is not known, archeological records suggest that it happened in Babylon, Egypt, Syria, and Ancient Greece. In 1729, John Cheny published An Historical List of All Horse-Matches Run. This became the foundation for organized horse racing in North America.
Handicaps are assigned to horses to ensure that each is given an equal chance to win. Handicaps can be set centrally in the racing jurisdiction, or they may be set by individual tracks. The main type of Thoroughbred horse race is a handicap. In a handicap race, the weights of each horse are adjusted according to his or her rating, ability, and past performance.
A race programme is a sheet that provides information about the horses that will be running in the races. It lists the dates, places, and time of the races. It also provides the name of the stewards, a list of the riders, and a list of the horses being set to run in each race. A photo finish is used when two horses cross the line at the same time.
Jockeys are required to weigh out before the races, as well as to re-weigh after the races. The position of the horses relative to the inside barrier and the position of the rider can have a big impact on a horse’s performance. The visor is a small slit in the eye cup that limits rearward vision, while blinkers are similar to a visor, but are worn to mute the sound of the race.
In the United States, there are three major races – the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. The Belmont is close to New York City and is one of the most famous American classic races. The prize money is split between the first, second, and third finishers. Most of the Belmont Stakes tickets are general admission and range in price from $10 to $20.
In Europe, jumps horses are normally started in National Hunt flat races as juveniles. They then go on to hurdling and steeplechasing after a year, if they are thought to be capable. Unlike fences, hurdles are smaller and require less jumping.
The earliest races were standardized, but by the 18th century, they were becoming more open, with larger fields of runners. After the Civil War, the goal changed to speed. The average amount of money earned per race was considered the most important factor. During the reign of Louis XIV, horse racing betting was highly prevalent. Owners who decided to withdraw from the race forfeited half of the purse.