7 Things You Didn’t Know About Australian Horse Racing

Australian horse racing: 4 things you might not know

The world of Australian horse racing is enthralling and exciting for all who become involved, but how much do you really know about the long-standing horse racing traditions in Australia?

Racehorse Training Is A Family Legacy

Bart Cummings had his first Group 1 win in 1958 in the South Australian Derby. With a record number of 89 entrants in the Melbourne Cup and 12 winners in that event, he was truly a skilful trainer who spent his life attaining legendary status in the world of Australian horse racing. Cummings’ grandson James has been a head trainer at the prodigious Leilani Lodge since 2017. He worked with his grandfather over the years to learn the ropes and had gone on and become a successful trainer in his own right, following in his legendary family footsteps.

Melbourne Cup Is Not The Biggest Prize Money In Australia

Although the Melbourne Cup is one of the significant events on the horse racing calendar, not only in Australia but around the world, it is surprisingly not the most lucrative. The award actually goes to the Everest Cup which is held at Randwick Racecourse in Sydney every year in October. It is not as well known as the Melbourne Cup as it only became one of the Randwick races in 2017 but is equally as prestigious, encompassing everything that the horse racing world has been known to offer. The fashion and food are a highlight of the event and the race itself is a sight to behold.

One of Australia’s Top Jockeys Turned Out To Be A Woman In Disguise

Bill Smith was a prominent jockey in the 1940s and 1950s. He held a successful career in horse racing throughout Southern Queensland, making quite a name for himself and even winning the classic Victoria Oaks. He kept to himself, even refusing to change with the other jockeys in the lockers and had a very private life. Even when he retired it was all the way up in Cairns, remaining reclusive until he died and that’s when the interesting story unfolds.

To live her dream Wilhelmina Smith had to hide her gender and created the persona of Bill Smith to accomplish her dream of becoming a champion jockey. It wasn’t until her death in 1975 that it was uncovered that Bill Smith was actually a woman. It didn’t take long after that before women like Pam O’Neill and Linda Jones were officially licensed into the sport in 1979.

Racing And Fashion Go Hand-In-Hand

Most people associate horse racing with the races themselves, but there is a lot more to it than that. Most don’t realise how heavily fashion is involved in a day at the races. When it comes to the likes of Ladies Day, also known as Oaks Day, which is held annually the first Thursday after Melbourne Cup Day, fashion is the central point of focus. All the glitz and glamour you could imagine is on display on this race day and although horseraces are happening as well, the Fashions on the Field competition awards thousands of dollars in prize money.

The world of Australian horse racing is a fun and exciting adventure for those on the outside who enjoy the occasional flutter, trying their chances with lady luck. For those on the inside of the sport, there is a great deal more behind the scenes that many may not know.

All Thoroughbreds Share The Same Birthday

Depending on whether a horse is born in the Northern or the Southern Hemisphere, the universal birthday of a thoroughbred is January 1st or August 1st respectively. This rule was established in England in the 1700s before horse racing became an official sport as it made it easier for horse owners to race their horses against one another in 2, 3 and 4-year-old categories. This rule has remained in place due to the regularity of mare breeding cycles which usually see horses all coming into heat and foaling at around the same time.

Birthdays of Standardbred horses follow the same rules as thoroughbreds. In the Northern hemisphere, Standardbred horses all have the same birthday as thoroughbreds being 1st January, but in the Southern hemisphere, the birthday is set to 1st September, 1 month after their thoroughbred counterparts.

Horseracing Is Known As The Sport Of Kings

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Horseracing is a sport that has taken place in all forms of civilization throughout history. From Ancient Greece to Roman chariot racing, racing horses is long been a sport that is commonly found in high society. Horse racing featured in many cultures, particularly in Europe in the early 1700s before making its way to Britain where it became popular in aristocratic society. It is here that horse racing was declared to be the sport of kings.

King Charles II was an avid sportsman and it was he who drove the formation of the Jockey Club in 1750 which was established to control the Newmarket Races. Since this time, horse racing has been a prominent part of royal life in England. Prominent people in many other countries around the world also have a keen interest in horse racing from US President Geroge Washinton to Alain and Gerard Wertheimer, the owners of luxury fashion brand Chanel.

The Queen Of England Has Owned Numerous Successful Racehorses

From the time of Henry VIII to the current day, breeding and racing thoroughbred horses has remained a favorite pastime of the royals. Queen Elizabeth II is not just an avid race fan, she has owned some of the most successful racehorses in the history of the royal family. Her horses have won her almost £6.7 million making her the 11th most successful racehorse owner in the world. In 2021, Queen Elizabeth II was inducted into the QIPCO British Champions Series Hall of Fame for her support of British flat racing.

Since 1945, the Queen has religiously attended the Royal Ascot races. She has conducted multiple interviews over the years relating to her love of breeding thoroughbred horses and regularly visits the Royal Stud at Hampton Court. The Queen is extremely knowledgeable about breeding horses and rarely misses a chance to watch her horses run.