Globally, Australia is only second to America in horse racing starts. Australia only follows America and Japan in the total amount of prize money won, and this country has more race tracks than any other nation in the entire world. These facts point to the fact that horse racing is one of the most important and well consumed sports in Australia beyond the venerable Australian sport rugby and other forms of Australian football. There are two separate types of horse racing in Australia. In South Australia and Victoria, Thoroughbreds compete over hurdles and other obstacles, and the second is the more globally recognized Thoroughbred racing type referred to as flat racing in Australia.
In the 350 plus legally recognized race tracks in Australia, approximately 2 million attendants patronize horse racing events in some years. Although Australian horse racing began soon after the country’s settlement by Europeans, and gaming in horse racing has seen some suspect turns throughout its early history, the horse racing gaming industry in Australia is now well regulated and has a regulatory system of governing the industry called the Totalisator Agency Board or the TAB and whose agents are referred to as automatic totalisators. Many have considered requesting the organisation to regulate the online casino Australia industry. Additionally, the industry’s governing regulations ensure all licensed race tracks have standardized starting gates as well as a system for recording photo-finishes.
As an industry, Australian horse racing provides employment for over a quarter million people. This large section of people occupy approximately 80,000 full or part time jobs. Well over a quarter million Australians have at least a small monetary or ownership interest in some form of the 30,000 plus horses that are officially racing in Australia. In addition to this economic impact, there are well over 3,000 trainers officially registered in Australia and almost a 1,000 or more registered jockeys. Of course, there are also veterinarians, bookmaking organizations and other necessary professionals that service the industry, and around 370 race clubs meet at around 3,000 organized races in Australia to have a chance at earning almost $500,000 in prize purses.
The actual horse racing itself in Australia is governed by a federal governmental organization called the Australian Racing Board and at the state level, the Principal Racing Authority is subject to and enforcer of the Australian Rules of Racing. By the early 1800s, horse racing had began to become ingrained in society at least in and around the Sydney area. The first officially organized race was held at Hyde park by military personnel in late 1810. The oldest official jockey club was The Australian Jockey Club founded in 1842, and whose original location was Homebush before transitioning to Randwick in 1860. This move to Randwick where it is still located today allowed the AJC to have a real influence over policy making within the entire Australian horse racing industry from its infancy.
The Sydney Turf Club was Australia’s second most important organization and second founded, but the club was not formed until 1943. However, this club founded the richest horse race for two-year olds in the world known as the Golden Slipper Stakes. In 2010, these two founding Australian horse racing entities merged through a governmental act termed the Australian Jockey and Sydney Turf Club Merger act. This act formed the Australian Turf Club. However, combining clubs to make more powerful entities is not a new idea in Australia. In Victoria in 1864, the Victoria Jockey Club and the Victoria Turf Club combined to form the Victoria Racing Club.
There are four set ways to place a legal wager on horse racing in Australia. Off track and parimutuel betting were formerly controlled by sate level governmental organizations termed the TAB. However, many of these Totalisator Agency Boards are now privately held organizations, and these private organizations have licensed many pubs to offer these types of horse racing odds making. There are also the common licensed on site bookmakers. This option offers predominately fixed odds on wins and places. This contrasts with parimutuel betting in which there is a set cut taken for the house and the remaining purse is disbursed among those that also won. In parimutuel betting, the odds are not fixed.
In the early 1900s, an automatic totalisator was instituted and allowed the odds pertaining to a particular race be calculated based pre-existing patterns. Lastly, exchange, person to person betting is permitted online, but it requires a membership in which members set their own prices, but relinquish a certain percentage of their earnings as a commission on the deal. Additionally, Australia had a large issue with corruption in the horse racing industry, particularly in the wagering sector. This situation was so rife that even rigging was asserted. However, the combined action of several Royal Commissions and the onslaught of legal online gaming lessened this practice to indiscernible levels. Now Australians place bets on horse racing online and enjoy this among their other online passions like online casinos offering online blackjack.
Breeding Thoroughbreds has also become an Australian tradition since early in its organized racing efforts even before clubs were formed. Some of the greatest stock sired in Australia has some semblance of Arabian blood. In particular, many lines can trace their Arabian heritage to a stud called Old Hector. Although it is debated somewhat, Northumberland was also a great founding Arabian contributor to many Australian pedigrees still being raced today. Although horse racing may be older than Australia itself, shortly after its settlement, Australians began horse racing, and very soon after this racing began, they began to organize and pioneer the spectator sport.