Horse Racing

Dating back to Ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian time periods in the form of chariot racing, horse racing could well be regarded as the oldest organised sport in the world.

Today thoroughbred racing exists as the most popular form of horse racing and is known as the ‘sport of kings’.

The sport of horse racing is popular throughout the world but is most popular in the United Kingdom and Continental Europe, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Dubai, and the USA.

The Melbourne Cup: Australia’s biggest race

In Australia, the Group 1 Melbourne Cup remains the country’s biggest race and is fondly known as the ‘race that stops a nation’.

Jockey Michelle Payne riding Prince Of Penzance crosses the finish line to win the $6,000,000 Melbourne Cup race at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015.(AAP Image/Julian Smith)

Run at Flemington Racecourse over 3200m, the Melbourne Cup is the world’s richest staying race with over $6 million in prizemoney available in the 2016 race. The race is a handicap, meaning horses are given weight by a handicapper to attempt to see an even field, mixing proven champions with up-and-coming horses.

The race is contested by local horses, imports, and overseas raiders who send the best from England, Ireland, France, Germany, Japan and more for a chance to win the enormous winner’s cheque and prestigious trophy.

Re-live coverage of previous Melbourne Cups:

2016 Melbourne Cup:

Previous years:

Melbourne Spring and Sydney Autumn racing: the best of the year

While both Melbourne and Sydney have racing all year round, the Spring and Autumn Carnivals are the major showpieces.

Melbourne’s Spring Carnival includes the Melbourne Cup, the Group 1 WS Cox Plate and Group 1 Caulfield Cup, run at Mooney Valley and Caulfield Racecourse respectively. The Victorian Derby, VRC Oaks, Caulfield Guineas and Thousand Guineas for three-year old horses are other major Group 1 races.

Sydney’s Autumn Carnival includes some of the pinnacle races of the world, focusing on major Group 1s including the world’s richest race for two-year olds, the Golden Slipper. Run at Rosehill racecourse, major races The BMW/, George Ryder Stakes, Ranvet, and Rosehill Guineas are also run on Slipper Day.

The focus then turns to Randwick Racecourse for The Championships across two weeks of racing, and includes the Sydney Cup, Doncaster Mile, TJ Smith, Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and AJC Australian Derby. Easter racing is synonymous with Sydney’s prestigious Autumn Carnival.

Australia’s horse racing industry one of the most active in the world, with races every day of the year apart from Christmas Day and Good Friday with a grand total of 72 Group 1 races throughout the year.

Of course, racing isn’t just at the top level. Country racetracks hold racedays across a year, with most towns with a racetrack having an annual Cup day. The Scone Cup is one of the most famous.

Always changing and always debated

The riches in racing and constant competition between stakeholders in racing include tracks, administrators, governments, punters, bookmakers, breeders, jockeys, trainers – and more – leads to rich debates, famous storylines, and plenty of disagreements.

Here’s some of the most interesting, informative, and hotly debated racing topics on The Roar:

History and heroes

Australia not only has a long history of races, with some of the biggest in the world as mentioned above, but some of the most famous race horses that have ever graced a track.

The two standouts are Phar Lap for obvious historical reasons, and more recently Black Caviar who had an incredible 25 races undefeated, with 15 of them being at Group 1 level including internationally. The unstoppable mare could only be halted by retirement, and she’s now a mum to two foals who are hoped to also be stars of the track.

The Roar‘s experts established Australia’s Top 50 racehorses of all-time, to find out just who the best of the best were. The list is topped by the champion galloper Carbine, who isn’t a household name but is one of the greatest horses of all-time.

2015 Cox Plate and 2016 Doncaster Mile winner Winx is Australasia’s best racehorse still running, with the elite mare having netted nearly ten million dollars worth of prize money to date.

Australia’s racehorse and races are generally over shorter distances, with our sprinters often topping world racing rankings. Australia’s staying ranks are often propped up by European imports, where horses with early ability are brought out to Australia to attempt to compete for major races, including the Melbourne Cup.

Australia’s jumps racing is more limited, with the major carnival held in Victoria at tracks including Warrnambool and Ballarat, the venue of the Grand National.