Australian Horse Racing History and Races
In Australia, only two sports have higher attendances than horse racing: Australian football and rugby league. Horse racing is extremely popular, as is horse race betting; there are more racecourses in Australia than in any other nation. A number of important races take place each year in Australia, such as the Melbourne Cup. Although each state has its own governing body, overall regulation of the sport is the responsibility of a national organization called the Australian Racing Board.
History of Horse Racing in Australia
Horse racing in Australia goes back to not long after the first ships arrived from Great Britain to establish a European colony. It's believed that there were several horses on board these ships, and several more were imported subsequently. As such, horse racing was one of the first sporting activities to take place within the new colony, although it was not formally organized. In 1805, there was the first public auction of bloodstock in Australia, and in the following years, horse racing began to take off.
In 1810, at which time horse racing had become a reasonably well-known sporting activity, the first official race was sanctioned and held at Hyde Park in Sydney. Horse racing then began to spread to other parts of Australia, such as Western Australia, Victoria, and Queensland. The Australian Jockey Club (the AJC) was established in 1842, and many racing clubs and organizations were formed throughout the country. By the end of the century, there were nearly 200 racing clubs registered with the AJC, and the first Australian stud book had been compiled.
It had taken a little more than a century for Thoroughbred racing to become a major part of Australian culture, and in the years that followed, horse racing went from strength to strength. There have been some notable horses trained and raced in the region such as Phar Lap, Todman, Eurythmic, and more recently Makybe Diva and Black Caviar. A number of important horse races have also been founded.
Important Australian Horse Races
There are several major horse racing events in Australia each year. The Australian Derby is run annually at Randwick Racecourse in Sydney in either later March or early April. The Australian Oaks is held at the same race meeting. The Australian Cup takes place at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne each year and has a prize pool of over one million Australian dollars. There's a state derby race in most states, such as the Victoria Derby, the Queensland Derby, and the South Australian Derby.
The biggest horse race in Australia has to be the Melbourne Cup. It's known as "the race that stops a nation" and the whole country pretty much comes to a standstill to watch it. It has been held since 1861 at Flemington Racecourse. The prize pool is over six million Australian dollars, with the winner getting over $3 million and a valued gold trophy.
Horse Racing Regulations in Australia
Racing throughout Australia is ultimately regulated by the Australian Racing Board, and it's their responsibility that racing in the nation adhere to a general set of rules: the Australian Rules of Racing. There are also organizations that deal with racing at the state level, known as the Principle Racing Authorities. They include the Canberra Racing Club, Racing Queensland, NSW Thoroughbred Racing Board, and Racing Victoria. The Australian Stud Book and the Registrar of Racehorses are independent organizations that also report to the Australian Racing Board.
Betting on Horse Racing in Australia
Horse racing betting is big business in Australia and is popular among many residents. At most racecourses, you'll find a number of licensed bookmakers offering fixed odds betting, and parimutuel betting is available through the Totalisator Agency Boards (TABs). These TABs used to be state controlled, but a number of them have been privatized.
The big role that horse racing betting has in Australian culture is highlighted by the fact that you can place bets on horse races in many pubs and bars, using betting services linked to these TABs. Many bettors favor online horse racing sites. There are many to choose from, and they are often considered to be the easiest and most convenient ways to bet on horse racing.
Author: Brad Johnson
Updated: March 2015
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