The horse has long been a respected and favored animal in Great Britain. By 2500 B.C., tribes in Britain had domesticated horses and used them to pull carts. When the Roman conquest took place, armies of the tribes of Britain included thousands of chariots. In the Middle Ages, the English began to employ horses for various purposes, including agriculture and tournaments. By the 12th century, there was widespread horse ownership and horse breeding.
As it is known today, horse racing was brought to England while James VI of Scotland reigned as king of both countries (1603-1625). King James organized public races in various venues, and he continued to import quality animals in the hope of developing a new, lighter, faster horse. His successor, Charles I (1625-1649), possessed a passionate interest in horse racing and the type of horse involved that could also serve in the hunting field. This love of horses has lasted with both England’s royalty and its citizenry. Today, there are many great races run in the United Kingdom. Here are some of them:
The Grand National
Anyone who has watched the classic movie National Velvet, starring a 12-year-old Elizabeth Taylor, is familiar with the name of this race. As a steeplechase, it has the most famous jumps race globally, and it is also a race on which all ages place wagers.
Bet365 Gold Cup
After the running of the Grand National, there is the race known as Bet 365. There are 24 fences and over three meters and one-half between the runners and the finish line. Bet 365 is the first race to have commercial sponsors.
Cheltenham Gold Cup
Champion jumpers hurdle 22 fences in this three-mile race on the days that come just before the Cheltenham Festival’s last day. Since 1815, Cheltenham has hosted this racecourse that showcases Great Britain’s best racing. The mighty horse name Big Buck has won this race for four consecutive years.
Queen Mother Champion Chase
There is a championship two-mile event on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival. Known as the Queen Mother Champion Chase, this race was given its current title in 1980 as a tribute to the Queen Mother and her racing support. Famous winners include Sprinter Sacre, Master Minded, and Moscow Flyer.
King George VI Chase
This three-mile race is considered the most prestigious race of jumping. It is also not uncommon for there to be multiple winners; for instance, Desert Orchid won the race four times, and Kauto Star won five times.