The Arabian horse originated from the Arabian Peninsula where it has been raced for centuries. This breed is smaller in size and more one paced than the Thoroughbred. It is very attractive and intelligent, generally noted for its ability to endure sustained effort over long distances. In January 2000 the Abu Dhabi one-day 100 mile race was won by a 10 year old Purebred Arab gelding, Ben Saloe, at an astonishing average speed of 12.71 mph!
The Arabian has been in Britain since the Romans conquered our shores. They raced them at Netherby (Yorkshire) long before the Thoroughbred was produced. James I kept Arabians, including the famous Markham Arabian, at Newmarket where he instituted a kind of steeplechase on Newmarket Heath. The Parliamentarians confiscated his Stud in 1648 and his horses were dispersed - most being lost from record.
The Darley Arabian, the Godolphin Arabian and the Byerly Turk from the 18th Century were to become the progenerators of the British Thoroughbred stock. Weatherby's Stud Book began in 1791 based on these three Arabians. Prior to this, the Jockey Club was founded in 1752.
By 1885 the speedy Thoroughbred had evolved to be so fast that the Purebred Arabian was no longer a match for it even when given a large allowance. So the racing of this smaller breed on official tracks was stopped. It was not until 1978 that they were returned to the tracks once more. A few racing enthusiasts from the Arab Horse Society, led by Ann Unwin, gained permission from the Jockey Club to organise Amateur flat races. Since then, for the past 22 seasons, the sport has flourished under Jockey Club Rules, on official courses and has grown to be the most active of its kind in Europe.
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Harness Racing is a form of horse racing in which the horses race at a specific gait (a trot or a pace). They usually pull a two-wheeled cart called a sulky, although racing under saddle (trot monté in French) is also conducted in Europe.
In North America harness races are restricted to Standardbred horses, although European racehorses may also be French trotters or Russian trotters, or have mixed ancestry with lineages from multiple breeds. Orlov trotters race separately in Russia. The light cold-blooded Coldblood trotters and Finnhorses race separately in Finland, Norway and Sweden.
Standardbreds are so named because in the early years of the Standardbred stud book, only horses who could trot or pace a mile in a standard time (or whose progeny could do so) of no more than 2 minutes, 30 seconds were admitted to the book. Today, most harness races are won by Standardbreds who post times of 2 minutes or less. The horses have proportionally shorter legs than Thoroughbreds, and longer bodies. Standardbreds generally have a more placid disposition, due to the admixture of non-Thoroughbred blood in the breed.
The founding sire of today's Standardbred horse was Messenger, a gray Thoroughbred brought to America in 1788 and purchased by Henry Astor, brother of John Jacob Astor. From Messenger came a great-grandson, Hambletonian 10 (1849–1876), who gained a wide following for his racing prowess. However, it is his breed line for which he is most remembered. The lineage of virtually all North American Standardbred race horses can be traced from four of Hambletonian 10's sons.
Races can be conducted in two differing gaits – trotting and pacing. The difference is that a trotter moves its legs forward in diagonal pairs (right front and left hind, then left front and right hind striking the ground simultaneously), whereas a pacer moves its legs laterally (right front and right hind together, then left front and left hind). In continental Europe, races are conducted exclusively among trotters, whereas in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States races are also held for pacers.
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Harness Racing - General Information
The American Quarter Horse Is One Of The World’s Most Popular Breeds
The origin of the breed can be traced to Colonial America, to the early days of our nation. At this time, sprint racing, similar to modern Quarter Horse racing today, was popular in the streets of Virginia. It gained this popularity due to the fact that participants did not need a fancy track. That is to say, they just used what was already there… the street! But in 1674 this practice was deemed illegal, as people were literally being run over in the streets!!! At this point, the horse had no official name but was called a variety of things, including the Colonial Sprinter, the Quarter Pather and the Illustrious Colonial Quarter Running Horse. Although English Thoroughbreds were raced in the new world, it wasn’t long before Colonial farmers started to breed their English ponies to a faster, sturdier horse. In 1752, a horse named Janus was imported to Virginia. He was a grandson of the Godolphin Arabian and he was quick and compact. His build worked beautifully for the breeders cause and because of this, Janus is credited as the foundation sire of the American Quarter Horse.
Over the next 150 years, the product of this breeding would come to be known as the “American Quarter Horse”. Now known as the ‘World’s Fastest Athlete’ , the term “Quarter” refers to the distance of the race, most commonly a quarter of a mile. This 440 yard distance is still known as American Quarter Horse Racing’s ‘classic distance’ today.
Important Facts About American Quarter Horse Racing
Quarter Horse racing began on a straight track of four hundred forty yards, or one quarter mile. While this is still the most prolific distance in modern racing, races are held at distances as little as 100 yards and as much as 1000 yards! The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), the official breed registry for quarter horses, only recognizes races run at 1000 yards or less.
With few exceptions, Quarter Horse races are run in a straight path, with horses running at top speeds for the duration of the race. Turns are rare, so many races end with several horses grouped together at the wire for an exciting photo finish!
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A steeplechase is a distance horse race in which competitors are required to jump diverse fence and ditch obstacles. Steeplechasing is primarily conducted in Ireland (where it originated), the United Kingdom, Canada, United States, Australia and France. The name is derived from early races in which orientation of the course was by reference to a church steeple, jumping fences and ditches and generally traversing the many intervening obstacles in the countryside. Read more from Wikipedia...
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