Horse racing has a long and noble past and goes all the way back to the ancient times. The earliest evidence as provided by archaeological sources traces the origins of this activity to Babylon, Syria, Egypt and Ancient Greece. Horse racing also features prominently in the myth and folklore of several world cultures such as in Norse mythology.
Horse racing with the use of chariots was a very popular event at the sporting meets of the Byzantine, greek and Roman Civilisations. The Greek Olympics in 648 BC had entries for both mounted and chariot races. In Rome, horse rearing and the manufacture of chariots was a lucrative business as the sport was enjoyed mainly by the wealthy upper classes. The traditional carnival in Rome had a spectacular horse race as a part of the closing ceremonies, from the middle of the 15th century, right till 1882. This was a riderless horse and about 15 to 20 magnificent animals imported from Barbary in North Africa, would be let loose to run the entire distance of the Via del Corso, a city street, in about two and a half minutes.
Horse racing was a very popular sport even though it was often plagued by horrific injuries to the riders and the horses. Fatalities were quite common and even spectators would be injured. Despite these setbacks, the racing of horses, especially thoroughbreds soon became the preferred sport of aristocrats and monarchs both in the eastern and western hemispheres, earning it the honor of being called ‘the sport of kings’.
The sport also provided great entertainment and excitement for the onlookers. The sport also led to added funding and greater skill in the cavalry regiments of various countries. The sport of horse racing also led to the formation of specialized breeds of horses and specifically designed equipment for every horse-related sport. If it had not been for this, the engagement of men with horses would have soon disappeared after they were no longer needed for combat purposes.