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United Kingdom Horse Racing Information
The United Kingdom is rightfully identified as the cradle of Thoroughbred racing. The British Isles is where the Thoroughbred breed was first conceived and nurtured, beginning more than 400 years ago, and where the rules of the sport were first laid out. To this day, horse racing remains a firmly entrenched pastime of the British culture.
The Thoroughbred racing season in the UK begins in early March and runs through October. There are a variety of key events that highlight the season, most notable of these being the English Triple Crown, Royal Ascot meeting, and the newly-created British Champions' Day.
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There are many elements of horse racing in the United Kingdom that differ from that of the United States. For instance, racing in England is conducted almost exclusively on turf and often on undulating courses, featuring hills and dips, that the competitors must contend with. Additionally, UK horse racing is often contested at much longer distances than in the United States.
In the United States, race horses are bred for speed, while in Europe, including the United Kingdom, race horses are bred more for endurance.
One other significant difference comes in the betting aspect of the sport. In the United Kingdom, handicappers have several options when it comes to making a bet on a horse race. One is to wager through the pari-mutuel, or "tote" system, like is in place in the United States. However, gamblers and bettors in the United Kingdom also have the option to wager through a bookmaker, which are legal, either on-track or at one of the hundreds of "betting shops" that dot the English landscape. Bookmakers provide "fixed" odds, which can sometimes be an advantage over the pari-mutuel system where odds can fluctuate right up until post time.
A lot of horse racing experts believe that international racing is more successful than horse racing in the United States because the fans are offered multiple betting options, giving them multiple opportunities, which in their minds creates more winning strategies.
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The UK horse racing season is comprised of a series of short meetings, usually no longer than a week, that are rotated among the region's 60 licensed racecourses. According to statistics from 2010, there were 6,309 races in the UK in 2010 that drew total wagering of more than $10.3 billion. To give you an idea on the popularity of UK horse racing worldwide, that handle figure is only slightly less than the $11.3 billion that was wagered on more than 46,000 races in the U.S. in 2010.
Now, back to the racing itself. In the United Kingdon, horse races are sub-divided into numerous categories based on distance and the level of competition. "Pattern" races represent the highest level of UK horse racing. They consist of Group 1 races, which includes the Epsom Derby and other highly significant international races; Group 2 races, which are slightly less significant but still have an international impact; and Group 3 races, which includes the most important domestic races.
Currently there are 32 Group 1 races contested each year in the United Kingdom, 45 Group 2 races, and 65 Group 3 events.
In the United States, the best race horses or top Thoroughbreds compete in Grade 1, Grade 2 and Grade 3 racing events. Depending on the actual horse racing event, the surface it is contested on and the distance, it is hard to separate the best Thoroughbred race horses in the United States from the best Thoroughbred race horses in the United Kingdom, though it is commonly believed that at distances over a mile contested on turf race courses, the international horses are usually favored, specifically from the United Kingdom and the rest of the European horse racing scene.
Races can range anywhere from five furlongs (one furlong= eighth of a mile) to more than two miles. In the United Kingdom, races from five- to seven furlongs are classified as sprints; races from eight to 12 furlongs (1 1/2-miles) are classified as middle distance; and anything longer than 12 furlongs is classified as a long-distance, or "stayers" race.
These classifications are important because they are the basis for year-end championship honors in the UK.
Compared to Thoroughbred races in the United States, the more common distances are between 7 and 9 furlongs. In fact, there is only a small number of races contested each year in America at the distance of a mile-and-a-quarter or greater. Unlike the United Kingdom racing, Thoroughbreds in the United States compete mostly at distances of a mile or less.
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In 2011, the British Horseracing Authority launched the British Champions Series in order to help determine the seasonal champion in five separate divisions. The series consists of seven races in each division contested throughout the year and culminates with British Champions Day, which is held at Ascot Racecourse at the end of October.
The five championship divisions that comprise the British Champions Series is Sprint, Mile, Middle Distance, Filly and Mare and Long Distance. It's worth noting that while fillies and mares have their own British championship under this format, it is very common for female horses to race against their male counterparts in the United Kingdom. A lot of Thoroughbred race horse owners do this for the prestige and recognition that substantiates the greatness of their Thoroughbred horses when winning in the open or male racing divisions.
Just like in the U.S., British racing has its own Triple Crown for 3-year-olds that merits widespread attention in the spring and summer months. However, the British Triple Crown-which consists of the one-mile Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket Racecourse, 1 1/2-mile Epsom Derby at Epsom Downs and the about 1 3/4-mile St. Leger Stakes at Doncaster-really only exists in name only these days. Horses that run in the Two Thousand Guineas and Epsom Derby rarely, if ever, even enter the St. Leger anymore. In fact, the last winner of the Epsom Derby to run in the St. Leger Stakes was Reference Point 1987.
British horse racing is widely viewed throughout Europe and is normally accepted as the horse racing capital of the world, considered by most superior to even the Thoroughbred racing that occurs in the United States. The British Triple Crown horse racing series is considered much more challenging than the Triple Crown racing series here in the United States.
It's been since the great Nijinsky in 1970 that British racing has seen a Triple Crown winner. Since then, only two horses have even managed to win both the Two Thousand Guineas and Derby. They were Nashwan in 1989 and Sea the Stars in 2009.
Our 3D horse racing game is the only free virtual horse racing game that offers you the opportunity to race past and current champions in the United Kingdom against past and current champions in the United States. Our free online horse racing game, consists of thousands of virtual replicated Thoroughbred champions from all over the world, including Britain, United States and other popular racing locations. If you would like to jockey, bet or even train some of the greatest Thoroughbred race horses that have ever set foot in the international horse racing scene, then why not play our free horse racing game now? Other free horse racing games claim that they offer an exciting experience, but only our virtual racing game offers such a wide variety of features, giving you the opportunity to live every aspect from breeder, trainer, owner, jockey or top bettor. Install our free online horse racing game now.
There are also two classic races in the United Kingdom for 3-year-old Thoroughbred fillies. The One Thousand Guineas Stakes is held the day prior to the Two Thousand Guineas at Doncaster and the 1 1/4-mile Epsom Oaks at Epsom Downs is held the day preceding the Epsom Derby.
In addition to the Triple Crown and Champions Series, the UK racing season is also highlighted by the Royal Ascot meeting held in mid-June each season. The five-day meet, which was founded by Queen Anne in 1711, features a smorgasbord of top international Stakes races and is a highlight of the British social season. Racegoers come in their finest attire-top hats and tails for the men, big hats and dresses for the women. It makes sense to look your best at Royal Ascot, as each day of the meeting Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the British Royal Family arrive in front of the grandstand to greet fans in a horse-drawn carriage.
The Royal Ascot meeting has also gained in popularity among U.S. horsemen. In 2009, Wesley Ward won twice during the stand to become the first U.S.-based trainer to win a race at Royal Ascot. That helped lead to a record number of U.S. horses subsequently running at Royal Ascot in 2011.
For U.S.-based handicappers looking to delve into British racing, be warned-you won't find nearly the statistical information you do with domestic racing. Almost all wagering decisions come down to just a handful of variables. These include form, i.e. who beat who previously and by how much; weight carried; condition of the course, i.e. firm, soft, etc.; and Timeform Rating.
Timeform Rating is a comprehensive assessment of a Thoroughbred horse's performance based on a variety of handicapping factors. This is a key number to look at when handicapping UK races, or even horses from overseas that are now running in the United States, because it offers a glimpse at a horse's overall ability.
According to the Timeform Rating scale, a horse with a 140+ is considered to be "outstanding." Group 1-caliber horses rate between 125-135, Group 2 horses from 115-120 and Group 3 horses rate between 110-115.
Every racing nation in the world owes a debt of gratitude to the United Kingdom for cultivating "The Sport of Kings." It remains home to some of the best Thoroughbred bloodstock and most important races on the globe.
Though it is possible that the best racing might be from Britain, the best horse racing games are right here in the United States. Online horse racing games can offer you an opportunity to portray yourself as a famous jockey, breeder or trainer while competing against a worldwide base of players with top awards and honors. Start building your virtual stable and caring for and managing your virtual Thoroughbreds' careers. Play our exciting free online virtual horse race game now.