Is Horse Racing Really the Sport of Kings?

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We’ve talked before about the history of horse racing and its ancient roots. When you scroll back through the annals of time, people have been rearing and racing horses since 4500BC. Of course, those early events will have looked very different from what we see today. Indeed, modern racing dates back to the 12th century and, thanks to Brits, it’s known as the Sport of Kings. The Oxford English Dictionary traces this title back to Dryden’s King Arthur and expressions relating to hunting and war. From there, we get to horse racing events enjoyed by the aristocracy and, thus, we get the Sport of Kings.

The Internet Opens Up Racing

However, does this title still ring true today? Is horse racing still a royal pursuit or it something for the masses? The answer isn’t as simple as you’d think. The best way to break things down is to look at Cheltenham. For the masses, Cheltenham betting is an annual event. Even though there are ways to bet on racing every day of the year, Cheltenham brings out the masses. Bookmakers estimate that at least £500 million ($698 million) is wagered on the festival in the UK alone. Much of this money comes from online betting sites. Open to any adult in a region where such activities are legal, these sites have made betting and horse racing more accessible to the general public.

In fact, the evolution of online betting goes beyond offering odds to everyone. Today, anyone can go online and get Cheltenham Day 2 tips from experts for free. Although newspapers have been publishing tips for decades, they’re far less comprehensive than those offered online. Moreover, they’re not seen by as many people. Then, when you go back to a time before papers printed tips, it was only those with connections to racing that got the inside track. Now, that’s not to say the internet has smashed the elite’s monopoly on racing. However, the barriers have come down and the general public can now get as much from the sport as kings and queens.

Racing’s Royal Roots Run Deep

However, we can’t completely disavow racing’s royal roots. Sticking with Cheltenham, the four-day festival features 28 races, 14 of which are Grade One level. The star of the show is always the Cheltenham Gold Cup which the queen has attended many times over the years. Then you’ve got the Queen Mother Champion Chase, which also reminds us that the sport isn’t fully within the grasp of the commonfolk. To hammer home this point, you can look at events such as Royal Ascot and the King George Stakes. We also can’t ignore that many of the world’s finest racehorses are owned by nobility. Queen Elizabeth has owned several fine specimens, as do international royals, including  Sheikh Mohammed and his famous Godolphin stable.

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In conclusion, we can say for certain that horse racing has become a sport for the masses thanks, in part, to the internet. However, it’s still not owned by the hoi polloi. Royals and those in the upper echelons of society still have a firm grip on the sport. That’s not a problem. Far from it. It’s a tradition that’s been handed down for generations which, in turn, means horses get the best possible care and attention. Therefore, even though people have more access to racing than ever before, it’s still, in parts, the Sport of Kings.