Across the UK, horseracing is a very popular sport. The number of race goers has been growing steadily for over a decade now. In 2012, attendance at races was up by 5%, which is amazing when you consider how little spare money racing fans have these days. Only football fans spend more, as a collective group, on watching their sport live that horseracing fans.
People cannot resist the atmosphere on race day. They enjoy the chance to bet at trackside and the excitement of the race. Watching on TV is fine, but nothing beats the feeling of hearing the thunder of the horses as they approach and seeing your horse in front as they pass.
Live racing is exciting, but not a lot new happens. The sport is an extremely old one and the rules were laid down a long time ago. At first, the format of the sport and the rules changed regularly. However, naturally, after a few decades, things have settled down. Today, it is rare to see a new format being introduced, so racehorse fans were delighted when they heard about the UK’s first shire horse race.
The event took place at Lingfield and was organised by Shire horse breeders to raise awareness of the plight of this beautiful breed. There are only just enough breeding pairs left to stop the breed from becoming extinct. Some breeds, like the Suffolk Punch, are on the brink of extinction. Without some drastic change, there is a real danger of losing this type of Shire horse completely within a generation.
The race was a great success, with all eight horses being provided by the same stud, the two-furlong race was close. Joey, ridden by Mark Grant, won the race. Professional jump jockeys, who thoroughly enjoyed the experience, rode the horses. Given the popularity of the event there may be a chance to see Shire Horses racing on a more regular basis. The enthusiasm of the horses was obvious and the sound of them pounding down the track was memorable and dramatic to say the least.