How Horse Racing Has Changed Over the Last 100 Years

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Horse racing is a sport rich in history and tradition, dating back to ancient times. The ‘sport of kings’ has remained popular throughout time and into modern day. But it has undergone a lot of changes since it originated centuries ago and, over the last 100 years, it’s evolved considerably. We’ve taken a look at the changes this popular activity has undergone, from flat racing to steeplechasing and harness races. 


Horse racing has become a more open sport over the last century, with a large community of fans. Prior to the 1920s, this major sport was primarily for the rich. But over the years, it’s become a more widespread sport that everyone can enjoy. It’s also become a sport that women can take part in. Horse racing brings in thousands of people who flock to the tracks to watch the races unfold, and millions more watching on TV around the world. 

Racing Equipment

Modern horses are raced on aluminium racing plates compared to the older steel plates. Race horses are now trained and raced with higher-quality equipment, which reduces the risk of injury. Over time, the equipment has been designed with the horse and rider in mind to make racing more comfortable. The softer leather or nylon bridles to the lighter saddles have replaced the blankets and metal strips, and heavy saddles from decades ago, making the ride more comfortable. It has also reduced the risk of injury during races, making the sport safer. 

Healthcare and Training

Improvements in science and medical care have meant that looking after race horses is easier now than it once was. What’s more, those innovations have made training horses easier too. For example, MRI scanning and imaging is possible now to assess problems and treat them accordingly, while breathing assessments can be carried out to understand fully how a horse is performing when they’re racing. Previously, caring for race horses involved a lot of guesswork but with technological advances, we can now care for them much more effectively. 


One of the biggest changes to happen to horse racing over the last 100 years is the evolution of betting on the sport. The 1920s saw racing wagers take place via bookmakers and then later, pari-mutuel betting became more popular. Bettors have a wide range of betting options to pick from now, whether it’s through online options or simply the different types of bet they can place, you can learn more about this by going through these helpful timeform guides. The opportunities to win on a horse race have never been better or more varied. 


The prizes for horse races around the globe are broader than ever before, making the competitions far more intense and exciting to watch. Races such as the Pegasus World Cup in Florida and The Everest offer purses that are over $10 million – a far cry from the prizes that were on offer to winners 100 years ago. Present-day horse racing is not about affluence in the way that it was decades ago, but money still plays a big role in the sport in a different way. 

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  1. […] Betting is one of the most significant changes to happen to horse racing over its hundred years in the evolution of sports betting. In the 1920s, wagers placed their bets via bookmakers and then developed into pari-mutuel betting, which became more popular. Today, bettors can now have a wide variety of betting options to choose from, whether it’s online or merely betting on the different types of bets they can bet on. […]

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