How horseracing and royalty fit perfectly hand in hand.
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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It’s clear that royalty has played a huge part in the evolution of horseracing over thousands of years. Many key milestones have now shaped this industry to what it is today, as a highly supported professional sport and some of the most recognised and historical events in the world. The researcher believes it is important to have an understanding of horseracing history to be able to make a contribution to modern literature. This will be completed by identifying trends which may affect horseracing events today. Since early domestication, horseracing is one of the most ancient sports in the world (Equine World UK, 2017). Horseracing originated through the return of English knights from Crusades with Arab horses, therefore breeding and creating thoroughbreds, the known race horse in the UK today (Aird, 2002). King Charles II held horseracing events from 1660-1685, with only two horses racing with prizes awarded to the winner (Great British horseracing, 2017). During his reign, Newmarket was the first venue to hold a horseracing event in Britain (Aird, 2002 and Great British Horseracing, 2017). Queen Anne made a big contribution to the industry and impacted the evolution of horseracing events quite extensively. During 1702-1714, she introduced several horses in races and introduced spectators placing bets, which then further grew becoming recognised as a professional sport (Equine World UK, 2017). This spread very quickly throughout England. In 1711, Queen Anne founded Ascot by riding on a stretch of land, known today at Ascot Racecourse as The Heath. Queen Elizabeth II continues the royalty passion and involvement in horseracing. ‘Even our very own Queen Elizabeth II has owned and bred horses that went on to win at Royal Ascot and classic races’ (Great British Horseracing, 2017: Online). ‘The Ascot races grew in popularity throughout the eighteenth century, becoming a very popular fixture in the English social calendar’ (Johnson, 2017: Online). A solid link between the British monarchy and Ascot racecourse has always been established as the reigning Monarch own the grounds and property (Johnson, 2017). Ascot holds many high-profile races throughout the year, including King George VI weekend and Royal Ascot. ‘This five day event in mid-June (extended from the original four days in 2002 in celebration of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee) attracts around 300,000 visitors every year’ (Johnson, 2017: Online). The event contains eighteen group races and offers nearly £4,000,000 in prize money (Johnson, 2017).
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