horse racing

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Consists of flat racing or jumping, ‘over the sticks’. Racing became popular during the 16th cent. and the first race‐course with an annual fixture was established on the Roodee at Chester in 1540. Racing received support from successive monarchs. James I established a hunting stable at Newmarket and Charles II made it fashionable. Racing expanded with courses springing up at Doncaster (1595), York (1709), Ascot (1711), Epsom (1730), Goodwood (1801), and Aintree (1827). In 1750 the Jockey Club was founded to regulate the sport. Lord George Bentinck (1802–48) devised the flag start, race card, paddock parade, and much of modern race‐course practice. Highlights of the flat season include the Derby, Oaks, and St Leger.

Steeple‐chasing derived from horses racing each other cross‐country to the nearest church steeple. The concept of a course with artificial fences originated at the Newmarket Craven meeting in 1794. A Grand Annual Steeplechase began at Cheltenham around 1815. In 1866 the Grand National Hunt Steeplechase Committee was formed to establish rules and the first Calendar appeared in 1867. It became the National Hunt Committee in 1889. Highlights include the Grand National and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Subjects: Regional and National History.

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