Horse Racing’s Surprising Popularity in India

When it comes to entertainment, there are many great options available in India, and that includes horse racing.
With sport, most people know cricket is the most popular in the country. Team India have delivered huge levels of success in various formats, whilst the domestic game is thriving with the IPL.

Elsewhere, football is another that attracts a huge audience. With that in mind, other sports can go under the radar, but many people in India will be searching for the latest horse racing bets, as it’s a sport that has a rich history in the country. And, with several major events taking place across India each year, there’s always something for fans to look forward to. Here we will outline the history of the sport and assess what the future holds.

As touched upon, India has a rich history when it comes to horse racing, with the first track set up in 1777. With India a colony of the British back then, it was the British that played a part in ensuring horse racing grew in popularity. Gradually, things would continue to improve, and we have reached a stage today where there are six major venues across the country, which host some huge races in front of big crowds.

Major races

During that time, five races have become established as the main ones in India. They are the Indian 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas, the Indian Oaks, the Indian St. Leger and the Indian Derby. All of these races take place in Mumbai, aside from the St. Leger, which takes in Pune, and they are scheduled across the year.

Whilst all are prestigious, for many the Derby is considered the ultimate race in the country. It’s the one that attracts the most attention and the biggest prize pot for those involved. The first race was held in 1943, and it has produced memorable moments regularly since then. One of those was Kheem Singh’s victory in 1948, which ended the initial dominance of foreign riders in the race. In more recent times, War Hammer won the race in 2020, with what was a convincing performance from jockey Suraj Narredu.

The future

With all that in mind, you’d have to say that horse racing in India is in a healthy place moving forward. The excitement and thrill that each race can provide has been passed on to new generations. Perhaps the next step will be to have more jockeys and horses making an impact abroad, as that has been rare over the years. The famous Mystical is the most obvious exception to that, having recorded notable wins in Dubai.

Ultimately, horse racing is a sport that is steeped in history in India, which may have surprised some people. Obviously, it will never be able to compete with cricket, or even other sports like football or badminton.

Nevertheless, it still has a healthy following and it’s resulted in a thriving sport that offers plenty of fun and entertainment for those involved.

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