Australian Horse Racing - Sport Of Kings
Horse racing is undoubtedly among one of the most glamorous sports in the world – the sport of kings that has millions of followers in Australia.
Such is the allure of horse racing that the Melbourne Cup, the most celebrated race in the country that ‘stops the nation’ is a public holiday where thousands of socialites and punters gather at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne to witness a gruelling duel between the top thoroughbreds over a distance of 3,200 metres. Black Caviar
The sport brings together horses, jockeys, punters, trainers, and bookmakers who all seek a slice of fame and fortune.
Horse Racing In Australia and the betting system
Australian horse racing has a rich history with European settlers being the first to introduce the sport in the country.
Billions of dollars are wagered every year on thoroughbred horse racing which is usually conducted in two forms – flat racing and races over hurdles.
When compared on an international scale, Australia has the largest number of racecourses and is third in the amount of prize money distributed annually, just behind the US and Japan.
For the most part, the sport is now well organised with state of the art technology used in photo finish cameras, starting gates, and totalisators that are an integral part of the horse race betting system.
The Australian Racing Board is the governing body for horse racing in Australia where each state’s Principal Racing Authority bound by the Australian Rules of Racing . The industry creates thousands of job opportunities while there are over 1,000 jockeys and 3,500 registered trainers who vie for top honours at race meetings conducted by Metropolitan, Provincial and Country Race Clubs throughout the country.
Each season begins in August and concludes the following year in July. Most thoroughbred racing is held on the weekends with Saturdays being the main day while Metropolitan meetings are held on any day of the week.
One of the first blood horses to be imported into Australia was Rockingham in 1797. This was followed by a number of stallions and English mares with Northumberland and Hector being the leading sires until 1820. In 1825, Manto was imported and is responsible for her lineage producing a number of winners still today.
The frequency of English bred horses being imported increased as numerous racing clubs were formed especially in New South Wales. Malua became one of the most versatile thoroughbreds to win classic races both in flat and hurdle racing in the 1880s while Carbine, a New Zealand bred thoroughbred conquered the Australian turf.
His descendants, Phar Lap and Tulloch were also champions of the turf and among many greats such as Bernborough, Kingston Town and Makybe Diva to be inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame.
In addition, many Australian-bred stallions that were later exported to America like Bernborough and Tobin Bronze became leading sires.
Sydney In 1810
Around 1810, Sydney became one of the established centres for race meetings at Hyde Park.
The AJC or Australian Jockey Club moved to Randwick in 1860 while the Sydney Turf Club (STC), established in 1943, holds all its races at Rosehill Gardens and Canterbury and is the host of the Golden Slipper Stakes, the richest race for two year old thoroughbred horses. Both of these clubs did a merger in 2011 and are now known as the Australian Turf Club.
The Victorian Racing Club or VRC now known as Victoria Racing was established in 1838 and conducts most of its group racing at Flemington . The other prominent clubs are the Brisbane Racing Club (BRC) and the South Australian Jockey Club (SAJC) in Adelaide, founded in 1856. Perth Racing is the other club to host thoroughbred racing since 1852.
Breeders have always been at the forefront of Australian horse racing with many of them coming from a wide range of professions.
Among the most popular are Lieutenant William Lawson, an explorer, John Piper a former military officer, John Macarthur who pioneered the wool industry, and Dr D’Arcy Wentworth. Owner of Kirkham Stud, James White became one of the most successful owner/breeders with 5 AJC Derbies, 6 VRC Derbies, and two Melbourne Cups to his credit.
Finest Thoroughbreds In The Land
The Widden Stud in the Hunter Valley, NSW, and the Darling Downs in Queensland are among the major nurseries to produce some of the finest thoroughbreds.
They often say that a horse is only as good as his jockey and Australian horse racing has produced some of the finest jockeys in the world and were among the first to incorporate a crouched riding style with Tot Flood and James Barden the pioneers of the style in the late 19th century.
Edgar Britt, Roy Higgins, Scobie Breasley, Neville Sellwood, and Nash Rawiller are only a few of numerous champion jockeys to win premiership titles.
Women jockeys were only permitted by the VRC during the 1974 season where they could register strictly for ‘ladies only’ events . In 1979, Linda Jones and Pam O’Neill were the first to obtain a license to compete on par with men.
Such was the passion among female riders that during the mid-20th century, Wilhelmina ‘Bill’ Smith took the risk of masquerading as a male, Bill Smith, and rode at north Queensland racecourses.
Many trainers have moved on to reap rich success in Australian horse racing with trainers like Bart Cummings holding the distinction of producing 12 Melbourne Cup winners so far. Tommy Smith had 30 trainers’ premiership titles while Lee Freedman, Colin and David Hayes, and Gai Waterhouse are among the other notable trainers.
Gai Waterhouse is a leading lady trainer who follows Betty Lane, the first woman to obtain a Number One Trainers Licence after being denied a license by the AJC earlier in 1962.
And to finish off, we cannot forget the Bookmakers of the turf. Australian bookmakers enjoy the patronage of a large number of punters and offer the best odds on a number of races.
Apart from standard ‘win’ and ‘place’ bets, most bookmakers offer a variety of exotic horse race betting offers such as ‘Quinella’, ‘Exacta’, ‘Trifecta’ and ‘Quadrella’ to enable punters to make the most of their wager. They also offer multi bet options such as ‘doubles, ‘treble’, ‘all up betting’ and parlay betting.
Among the popular corporate bookmakers who conduct horse race betting services on a wide range of products online are Betfair, Centrebet, CrownBet, Sportsbet, and William Hill Australia to name a few.