Horse Racing History in the UK

Horse Racing does date back thousands of years. Around 600 B.C. the saddle and stirrup were invented which allowed better horse-back riding. Ever since then horses have been bred to race as their main sport.

A lot of bookmakers grow up around horse racing, which accounts for over 70% of the horse racing industry’s turnover. Wagers have been struck at racing in York, Doncaster, and Chester since the early sixteenth century, but the first known professional horse racing bookmaker was a man called Harry Ogden, who worked at Newmarket Heath in 1794. Horse racing betting houses were banned in 1853, and for a hundred years only those who attended race meetings could place cash bets. Otherwise, punters had to use credit and to communicate with their ‘turf accountant’ by letter, telephone, or telegram.

Altogether there are 59 racecourses in Britain, staging two ‘codes’ of horse racing, flat racing, and jump racing, both of which take place all year round. Sixteen courses race only on the flat, twenty-four only over jumps, and nineteen under both codes, including racing on artificial surfaces at three All-Weather horse racing tracks around the UK.