The Origins of Australian Horse Racing Popularity

There are only two sports that are more popular than horse racing in Australia – Australian Rules football and rugby league – and thousands flock to Australia’s many racetracks on a yearly basis to witness the magic first hand. In fact, horse racing is so popular in Australia that the country has more racetracks than any other country in the world, and horse racing betting could arguably be considered a national pastime. A number of important races take place in Australia every year, and while each state has its own governing body, the overall regulation of the horse racing in the country is the responsibility of the Australian Racing Board.

History of Horse Racing in Australia

The history of horse racing in Australia can be traced back as early as 1788 when the first ships from Great Britain arrived on Australia’s shores to establish a European colony. It is believed that there were several horses aboard the arriving ships and that several more were subsequently imported from a variety of European countries. Although it was not formally organised at the time, one of the first sports to take place in this newly established colony was horse racing, and it became so popular that the first public auction of bloodstock in Australia took place in 1805.

By 1810, horse racing had become so popular that the first officially sanctioned horse race took place at Hyde Park in Sydney, and the sport quickly spread to the rest of the country. The Australian Jockey Club (AJC) was established in 1842 and by the end of the century there were 200 racing clubs registered with the AJC. Major races such as the Geelong Cup, which was inaugurated in 1872, became highly popular and paved the way for Geelong Cup betting and the like.

Popularity of Horse Racing Betting in Australia

It took less than a century for thoroughbred horse racing to become a major part of Australian culture and the sport only grew from strength to strength in the years that followed. Australia has reared and raced several well-known thoroughbred horses such as Phar Lap, Eurythmic, Makybe Diva, and Black Caviar, and several major horse races have also been founded – and where there is racing there is sports’ betting.

Major races such as the Melbourne Cup, Cox Plate, and the Caulfield Cup generate a lot of attention and punters come out in droves to participate. Sports’ betting as a whole is so popular in Australia that it was estimated during the 2014/2015 season that expenditure on sports betting was $815 million! With horses like Winx now making headlines, the sport has become even bigger, and this in turn encourages more bettors to wager on the races and horses that are making news.

The Melbourne Cup: A Nation Stops

One of the most important events on any Australian’s calendar is the annual Melbourne Cup, which has been contested since 1861 and is known as the “race that stops a nation”. The race starts at 3pm on the 1st Tuesday of November at the Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne as part of the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival. This 3,200 metre race for three-year-olds and over is the richest ‘two-mile’ handicap in the world, and one of the richest turf races, with a purse of $6,200,000! The Melbourne Cup race day is a public holiday for all working within metropolitan Melbourne and certain parts of Victoria and over 100,000 people flock to Flemington Racecourse in all manner of exotic costumes to witness the race first hand.