The Differences Between US and UK Horse Racing

Horse racing is horse racing no matter where you are in the world, right? Wrong. Horse racing may essentially be the same sport, but each country has its own quirks. Quirks you may want to learn about if you want to win at the races. Because there is no point in using the best bet calculator if you don’t know the ins and outs of horse racing whenever you’re overseas and want to place a wager. So, let’s learn about the differences between US and UK horse racing.

What are the horses racing on?

The first difference you may want to learn about is the surface. In the UK, the majority of racecourses are set on turf – with very few exceptions, that is. In the US, however, most racecourses are set on dirt. Remember those films where horses leave behind a cloud of dust whilst competing? Yep, that’s the kind of dirt we’re talking about. If it’s not dirt, we’re most likely talking about artificial surfaces.

Racecourse direction

Horses, like people, have a preferred side. We have a leading hand, whilst horses have a leading leg, meaning that their muscles are slightly stronger on that side. That’s where the racecourse direction steps in. As we do with writing (using our right or left hand), horses may have a preference for a left-handed or right-handed course. Both types are popular in the UK, opening up the possibilities to more competitors. However, there are only left-hand courses in the US. Something to keep in mind if the horse you like seems more advantaged on a right-hand track.

What breeds can you expect to see on the track?

If you’ve ever followed horse racing in the UK, perhaps you already know that only thoroughbred horses can race here. These horses are fast and agile, and are bred exclusively for racing. Even after they retire, thoroughbred horses never really leave the track. In the US, however, other horse breeds can also compete, especially in the Quarter Horse Races that require horses to sprint over short distances. If you’re unsure about a horse, remember to learn more about its history before betting.

How long are the races?

You may be used to races in the UK, that require horses to run very long distances. The National Hunt, for example, is over three miles long and can truly test the endurance and stamina of each participant, alongside the skills of each jockey. However, races are much shorter in the US, especially if they are flat races. Belmont Stakes, for example, is only 1.4 miles long.

Where are the winnings higher?

When it comes down to money, the US has a clear advantage. Winnings in the UK are smaller, with the largest amount of prize money not exceeding £1 million for the Grand National. By comparison, the Breeder’s Cup Classic winner can walk home with a jaw-dropping $5 million. It goes without saying that the winnings on bets are also higher in the US.

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