Some people think that horse racing is found almost exclusively in the English speaking world, meaning the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia, but it is a popular and prestigious sport and a great place to bet money and earn winnings from France to Japan.
The most dominant form of racing in the world is thoroughbred racing which did start in Britain in the 18th century. Thoroughbred horses are a specific breed of horse that kelso racecourse events can trace their lineage back to three stallions imported into Britain from across the so-called Orient. Thoroughbred horse racing started when people started racing one another with their thoroughbred horses to find out which horse was the fastest.
France has one of the oldest and richest thoroughbred racing traditions in the world. The first French Thoroughbred horse races were held in 1775 Plaine des Sablons on the outskirts of Paris. From here the popularity of horse racing would spread throughout France and soon numerous famous and still prestigious races were established. France is now home to some of the world’s most famous races, including Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, or simply “the Arc” which features a 4 million Euro purse and draws spectators from across Europe.
Many European nations now feature their own horse races that allow people to enjoy an exciting day at the track and to bet and gamble money. In many countries horse racing already had an established tradition but local horses proved to be no match for the faster and stronger thoroughbred breed of horses. And as the thoroughbred horse breed spread so too did a set of largely common rules for thoroughbred breeding and racing.
Horse racing is particularly popular in Spain. In fact, in Spain it predates British Thoroughbred racing and races along Spain’s beautiful beaches with horses often streaking through the surf. These races can still be viewed in Spain and offer a unique and different experience than the typical thoroughbred race at a race course.
The first thoroughbred horse was brought to Spain by Duke Fernan Nunez Pagnotte in 1841. Modern horse racing was originally spear headed by the Society for the Promotion of Breeding, Spain (SFCCE) and the first known thoroughbred race was held in 1843. Still through the first several decades the sport was largely a gentleman’s sport to be enjoyed by the wealthy on their private estates.
In 1878 the first major race track was built in Spain, the Hippodrome de la Castellana, and by the 20th century numerous race tracks were established around Spain. Spain’s thoroughbred racing tradition would survive wars and depressions and continue on in popularity to this day. While Spain’s horse tracks may not be as famous as their football teams, they are certainly worth a visit if you are in the area.
Besides France and Spain, horse racing has been present in Greece and Italy for thousands of years. The rules and the venues have changed, of course, but horse racing still carries the prestige of a sport that has been around for generations. So if you are in Europe and looking for a place to bet some money and have a little bit of fun gambling, you should definitely check out the local race track.