O wyścigach - Horse racing in the world
A brief history of horse racing, basic information.
Horse racing is a sport originating from ancient times, initiated by the Romans. Former residents of the Apennine Peninsula raced in chariots pulled by two (biga) or four (quadriga) riding horses. At the beginning of the third century, Emperor Septimius Severus built the Hippodrome in Byzantine, and arranged races in Yorkshire, during which horses form the east and local ponies raced.
The first regular racetrack was built in Chester and was opened in 1540. In the seventeenth century horses raced in England on twelve tracks, but the first races in the form of what we know today were organized in the second half of the eighteenth century in England. It was the time when the Jockey Club was created, stable colours were registered and the Rules of Racing were promulgated in 1764. In 1780, Lord Derby and Sir Charles Bunbury made a bet whose horse would be faster. And, although the first one lost, the most important race for three-year-old thoroughbreds was named after him.
Other important moments in the history of the horse racing are: first obstacle race (1803), the introduction of the starting gate (1897) and licenses for trainers (1905), and prohibiting artificial doping of horses (1904).
The first horse race in Poland, competitive in its nature, which has been described, took place in 1777. As a result of betting, the mare of Kazimierz Rzewuski defeated the horse of the English MEP Sir Charles Whitworth on the road from Wola to Castle Ujazdów. 64 years later, the “Horse Racing and Livestock Exhibition Society in the Polish Kingdom” organized the first regular racing on a professional racecourse on the Pole Mokotowskie. Races are held on three types of surfaces: grass (turf), sand (dirt) and the so-called “all-weather”, or synthetic surface. Flat races are very different in terms of distances, which range mostly between 1,000-3,200 m. In the famous English long-distance chase called Gold Cup, horses must cover a distance of 4 km. Hurdle races and obstacle race are usually longer, and the most famous of them is the Grand National (7,242 m).
Another race differentiating factor is their rank. The most important races in each country are the so-called classics; their winners are permanently recorded in history. The oldest classic race is St. Leger (1776), which is held as the last of the races belonging to the “Triple Crown” (its distance in England is now 2,920 m). Earlier stages are 2,000 Guineas (most frequently 1,600m, the Polish equivalent is the run known as the Ruler Stakes) and the most important race for 3-year-old horses – Derby (2000-2400 m). The most prestigious English Derby (year of establishment 1780) takes place in the first Saturday of June in Epsom over a distance of 2423 m. The Kentucky Derby (2,000m), held from 1875 on the first Saturday of May in Louisville, enjoys the great interest in the USA.