Horse racing is one of the most entertaining sports with a long history and millions of fans worldwide. Both flat and steeplechase versions of horse racing are extremely popular, and all major betting sites in the UK feature both as part of their sports betting offer. With such a long tradition, there are many exciting stories and fascinating horse racing facts you probably don’t know, but that’s about to change. Read on!
Facts About Horse Racing – Highlights
- Horse racing contributes almost £4 billion to the UK economy.
- The oldest horse ever was 62 years old before he passed.
- An American stallion reached a market value of $140 million.
- Seattle Slew earned $1,208,726 during his career.
- Diane Crump was the first professional female jockey.
1. Horse racing is the second most popular sport in the UK.
Out of the overall sporting attendance in the United Kingdom, back in 2017, 47.6 million fans visited some sort of a football event. Horse racing was second, with 7.5 million spectators. This makes it bigger than rugby, cricket, and tennis.
2. The UK generates around four billion pounds of revenue from horse-race betting.
Based on horse racing statistics for the UK, the British horse racing industry is a world leader, and the sport contributes billions to the UK economy.
Even though these numbers have decreased from the £5.7 billion betting on horse racing brought in back in 2009, horse racing was still a great benefactor to the UK economy in 2020. The industry supports over 85,000 jobs, and millions of spectators watch the Cheltenham Festival, The Grand National, Royal Ascot, and many other horse racing events.
3. There have only been 13 Triple Crown winners since 1919.
The Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, or just the Triple Crown for short, is a series of horse races that includes the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. By going through various facts about horse racing, we learned that the very first winner of the Triple Crown was a thoroughbred called Sir Barton in 1919.
After Sir Barton’s great success, only twelve other horses managed to win all three races: Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), Citation (1948), Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977), Affirmed (1978), American Pharoah (2015), and Justify (2018).
4. Rachael Blackmore is the first female jockey to win the Grand National.
Rachael Blackmore made history in April 2021 when she became the first female jockey to win the Grand National on Minella Times.
The Grand National is one of the most significant horse racing events in the world and an essential part of horse racing history. It’s held annually, and takes place at Aintree Racecourse in England. The first race was held in 1839, and today, it is one of the most rewarding horse races in the world.
5. The Run for the Roses is 1.25 miles long.
The Kentucky Derby is one of the three events that comprise the Triple Crown, and it’s traditionally run on the first Saturday in May. It takes place at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, and was first established back in 1875. According to horse racing trivia and facts, the Kentucky Derby is also known as “The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports” or “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” because of how quickly the race happens.
Only three-year-old horses can compete in the Derby, and the winning horse and jockey are given a garland of more than 400 red roses, which is why this event is also called “The Run for the Roses.”
6. The most lucrative horse race in the world had a victory purse of $20 million.
The Saudi Cup is an American horse racing event that opened its doors first in 2020 at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh. Horse racing facts show that, before that, the Pegasus World Cup was the richest horse race in the world for the years 2017 & 2018.
The Pegasus World Cup is a competition for horses four years old or older. The first event had a $12 million purse, and it even got to $16 million in 2018.
7. Secretariat still holds the record in all three races at Triple Crown.
Secretariat, also known as Big Red, was the ninth winner of the Triple Crown. This thoroughbred racehorse triumphed in all three races back in 1973 and still holds the fastest time record in all of them. Horse racing stats show that, by the time he crossed the finish line in the Belmont Stakes, with a record-setting 2 minutes and 24 seconds, Secretariat was 31 lengths in front of the runner-up.
8. Secretariat was the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years, as his predecessor, Citation, did the same in 1948. The universal racehorse birthday is January 1.
Regardless of their actual date of birth, all Northern Hemisphere Thoroughbreds celebrate their birthday on January 1. If you’re into interesting horse racing facts, you should also know that things work a bit differently in the Southern Hemisphere, and all thoroughbreds have an August 1 birthdate.
This rule has been established so that it would be easier to group the horses by age, as many races have age restrictions.
9. Seattle Slew earned $1,208,726 during his career.
(America’s Best Racing)
Seattle Slew was the tenth winner of the Triple Crown back in 1977. He is one of two horses that have won this accolade while being undefeated in any previous races.
Various facts on horse racing show that Seattle Slew was a deal of a lifetime. His owners bought him for $17,500 as a yearling, and he earned the amazing $1,208,726 throughout his career. He died at age 28, exactly a quarter of a century after winning the Kentucky Derby.
10. Diane Crump became the first professional female jockey in 1969.
(Tampa Bay Times)
From the very beginning, horse racing was a sport reserved exclusively for men. Diane Crump broke that rule by becoming the first professional female jockey, as she finished a race at Hialeah Park on February 7, 1969. Although she lost that race, Crump has made a huge step towards female jockey acceptance.
According to horse racing jockey stats, women were able to get temporary jockey licenses thanks to the Civil Rights Act of 1968, but they had various issues even after that. When Crump decided to enter the race, seven other male jockeys used different excuses and doctor’s appointments to avoid it, so as not to debase themselves by racing alongside a woman.
11. American Pharoah is the only winner of the “Grand Slam” of thoroughbred racing.
Even if you don’t know much about horse racing, you have probably heard about the American Pharoah, one of the most famous racing horses in the history of this sport. American Pharoah foaled in 2012, and according to horse racing stats, he became the twelfth winner of the Triple Crown by winning the three necessary races in 2015. He also won the fourth race, the Breeders’ Cup Classic, which made him the winner of four major thoroughbred horse races in one US season.
In 2015, American Pharoah was named Horse of the Year and won the 2015 Eclipse Award for Champion Three-Year-Old Male. Today he is retired to Coolmore America’s Ashford Stud farm in Versailles, Kentucky.
12. The highest market value for a stallion was $120 million.
Tapit is an American stallion that has reached the highest market value ever. He was valued at $120 million, which according to horse racing data from Bloomberg, is 400 times his stud value. Tapit foaled in 2001, and his stud fee was $300,000.
He won three of the six races he competed in, including the Wood Memorial Stakes, but it’s not really him that’s so expensive – instead, his offspring seems to be almost exclusively of the winning kind.
13. The average weight of a thoroughbred racehorse is 1,000 pounds.
(Best Horse Rider)
A thoroughbred racehorse weighs around 1,000 pounds. They are considered mid-size horses, as other breeds weigh from 700 to more than 2,000 pounds. They are known for their slim build, long legs, and well-muscled bodies, and they are usually around 16 hands(or just over five feet) tall.
Based on the horse racing jockey facts, the average weight of a horse jockey goes between 108 and 118 pounds. They have to meet the minimum weight requirements to ensure all horses in a race are fairly matched.
14. The oldest horse ever lived to the age of 62.
(Guinness World Records)
According to the Guinness World’s Records database, Old Billy was the world’s oldest horse. Billy was foaled in 1760 in Woolston, Lancashire Country. He lived until 1822, and his last owner was Mersey and Irwell Navigation, a company. Two years after his death, Billy’s head was taxidermied and presented at the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museums.
Horse racing stats and trends show that the average lifespan of a horse is from 25 to 30 years, although racing horses retire around the age of 15 or even sooner to live out the rest of their lives outside of racing.
15. Every year, over $100 billion is bet on horse racing.
As we have previously mentioned, horse racing contributes billions to the UK economy, but did you know that over $100 billion is being wagered annually across 53 countries?
Betting on horse racing has a long history, and in the UK, it goes back to the early 1600s, the time of King James’s monarchy.
Horse racing industry statistics show that nowadays, horse betting in the UK is wide and varied, and all new betting sites offer that possibility. Players can even place bets on the go by using some of the acclaimed betting apps for the UK market.
16. Mike E. Smith is the jockey with the most wins in the Breeders’ Cup with 26 wins.
Smith has acquired four Breeders’ Cup Classic Wins for the years 1997, 2009, 2011, and 2016 and has a total of 26 wins in the annual series. He is also the second-leading jockey in all-time earnings, with over $312 million.
One of the fun facts about horse racing is that Smith also became the oldest jockey to win the title, as he won the Triple Crown at age 52. In 2018, he rode Justify, the thirteenth and most recent winner of the American Triple Crown.