27 January 2019
Britain is the birthplace of thoroughbred racing as we know it today. Early records of formal race meetings date back to the 16th century, when royalty and nobility would compete against each other for honour and glory, and breeding rules and standardised rules were established by King Charles I in the early 17th century. Indeed, the term the ‘Sport of Kings’ derives from the keen interest that England’s monarchs took in the sport and the way in which they firmly embedded it in the national heritage.
Britain’s premier races today – many of which date back to the 18th and 19th centuries – are widely considered the most prestigious globally because of this rich history, and thus represent the pinnacle of success for owners and breeders the world over. The Royal family still play a very active role in British horseracing, the Queen herself being an esteemed owner-breeder and various members of the family attending key race meetings throughout the year.
Today, the country boasts 60 racecourses, each with their own unique characteristics that test the talent and heart of the 14,000 horses in training in Britain and the stars from overseas who venture to Britain in search of the most coveted of prizes. The ‘Sport of Kings’ project showcases five of the most iconic and historic of these racecourses, including Chester, Britain’s oldest racecourse founded in 1539, and Newmarket, established by King James I in the early 1600s.
Great British Racing International (GBRI) is your gateway into this exciting world. As a subsidiary of the British Horseracing Authority, GBRI is the industry-funded organisation responsible for the promotion of British racing and breeding internationally. Key objectives are to maintain and generate overseas investment into the British racing and breeding industries and to promote Britain as a centre of global horseracing excellence.
By working with stakeholders across the sport, GBRI are able to offer exclusive money-can’t-buy experiences for those wishing to taste the inner essence of this enthralling lifestyle: spend a morning on the gallops watching elite thoroughbreds be put through their paces; meet the next generation of stars in the paddock, still joined closely to their mothers’ sides; see horses go under the hammer for millions at the two British auction houses; or rub shoulders with nobility in the mounting yard before jockeys jump on board to race. There is no limit to the variety of your experience in the ‘Sport of Kings’.