Thoroughbred horseracing is the 3rd most regarded and viewed sport in Australia after Rugby and Australian football. Horse racing is an equestrian sport and an important enterprise in the Australian culture and one of the oldest sports that started back in January 1788, when the first horses arrived in Australia from Cape Town, South Africa. The horses that were imported were 2 fillies, one colt, one stallion, and three mares.
Thoroughbred are hot-blooded horse breeds known for their skillful speed, spirit, and agility. Thoroughbreds are pure breeds from any horse breed and are similar to their Arabian predecessors. These horses had been refined during the 17th and 18th centuries in England when they were crossbred with Barbs, Oriental, and Arabian stallions that were brought in from the Middle East and other countries. Although Thoroughbreds are mostly for racing, they are also bred for polo, dressage, jumping, and fox hunting. Horse racing is an equestrian sport, performed by 2 or more jockeys racing in competitions. Besides Thoroughbred breeding and the horse races, jockeys play a crucial role in horse racing. Australian jockeys are known to be among some of the most notable in the world, and some of the first in the world that attempted the crouched style of riding.
The annual carnivals that support the Cups and Derbies provides a great atmosphere for entertainment and fashion that contributes the income to improve the status and the more expensive horses that have the pedigrees of a champion caliber.
Another aspect of horseracing is the Australian Stud Book (ASB). The objection of the ASB includes DNA testing of foals and mares, recording a mares breeding, the stallions demographics, and the purity of Thoroughbred breeding. The ASB announced microchips for foals in 2003, which guarantees the identification of a horse and presents the racing officials with the most reliable system of identifying a horse.
Horse racing in Australia is disparate any other horse racing countries in the world and has the most racecourses than any other country, although the United States has the most number of horses that are in races every year with Australia being the second. Australia is also the second biggest Thoroughbred breeding place in the world after the United States. Australian horse racing accommodates various types of racing. Some variations of horse racing include various distances, racing over blockades, racing on distinct surfaces, racing in particular gaits, as well as racing specific breeds. However, most of their racing is performed on a flat surface. Some countries also have their own horse racing traditions.
There are several important types of Thoroughbred horseracing in Australia. There is Flat Racing, Hurdle Racing, and Steeplechase, and there is also Endurance Racing. The Australian Racing Board approves and governs the Australian Rules of Racing in all States and Territories of Australia with the same conditions, general practices, and integrity. However, each state or territory also have their own Local Rules based on the Principal Racing Authority, that abide by the Australian Rules of Racing.
Flat Racing is the widespread prevalent form of horse racing in the world. Horses race on a flat surface that is mostly grass with no coordinated barricades.
Hurdle Racing is primarily performed in South Australia and Victoria during the jumping season that runs from March to August. This type of racing is when the horses gallop over a series of barricades or hedges with a maximum height of 1 meter, and the distance is at least 2800m.
Steeplechase is racing that also involves galloping over a series of barricades or fences that have a maximum height of 1.5 meters, with a distance of at least 3200 meters. Hurdle racing and Steeplechase are the same kinds of horse racing, but the difference is that Steeplechase is a little more challenging.
Endurance Racing is racing over distances that are anywhere from 10 miles to 100 miles, and sometimes even longer, that can take several days. The races in Australia range from half a mile (800m) to 2 miles (3200m) for flat racing, and up to 5000 plus for Steeplechase and Hurdle races.
Thoroughbred horseracing in Australia attracts over 100,000 spectators that attend the 3 major Thoroughbred horse race competitions which are the Melbourne Cup, the Victoria Derby, and the VRC Oaks. The Melbourne Cup is Australia’s most prestigious annual horse race. This race is a Flat Race performed in Melbourne, Victoria, and is for horses that are 3 years old or older running a distance of 3,200 meters (2 miles), at Melbourne’s Flemington Racecourse and performed on a Turf Surface. The last Melbourne Cup was in 2016 and had a total winning prize of $6.2 million Australian dollars. The Victoria Derby is a horse race for 3-year-olds that have to follow specific conditions of set weights and race over a 2500 meter distance. Then there’s VRC Oaks race which is the Victoria Racing Club that is for 3-year-old fillies that also have to follow certain conditions of set weights and race on a flat surface over a 2500 meter distance at the Flemington Racecourse. This race was won in 2016 with a winning amount of $1,500,000 in Australian dollars. The Flemington Racecourse located in Melbourne, Victoria, is a significant horse racing venue where many horse races take place.
There are also Group Races that are also known as Graded races or Pattern races which consist of 3 groups. These are the top levels of races in Thoroughbred horse racing that represent the most desired races are the Epsom Derby, the Irish Derby, and the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe that are performed in Europe. In Australia, it’s the Melbourne Cup, and in the United States, it’s the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders’ Cup. Also, Group races set different standards in different countries. The horses that win in any one of those races marks the horse as being exceptional and talented and is crucial in determining the stud values. A stud horse is a certified horse that is reserved for breeding.