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Horse Racing Innovations Throughout History


The sport of horse racing has always been very popular. This is because of its appeal to ordinary people, royalty, aristocracy and of course to punters. This is a sport which is very rich in history and sometimes punters who get occupied at comparing and looking for the best Horse Racing Odds don't delve deep enough to see all of the historical layers of the sport.

In this article we will try to inform these punters with a few very interesting inventions from throughout horse racing history. These are inventions that have changed the so called Sport of Kings and are always accompanied by interesting stories behind them.




The first invention to really influence the sport as a whole was the horsebox. Before the horsebox was invented, horses would travel the long distances to the track on foot, which would make them tired and not at full capacity.

This all changed when Lord George Bentinck decided not to walk his horse, Elis, the 300 kilometer journey from Goodwood to Doncaster in 1836. When his horse got to Doncaster it was well rested and in perfect condition.

As an added bonus, because bookmakers couldn't see that the horse arrived in Doncaster they weren't sure whether it would race or not. This lengthened the horse's odds to 12/1, odds which tempted Bentinck himself. At the race, Ellis galloped to victory and Bentinck left Doncaster with a pocket full of money.


Starting Gate

Bentinck also played a big part in changing how regulation was imposed at the start of a race. In the first half of the 19th century it was very common for the audience to wait for over an hour for a legitimate start. This was due to the fact that there were no saddle cloth numbers and no barrier draws, and jockeys had to find their starting line spot.

False starts were a common practice to disqualify the favourite and thus influence proceedings. Apparently, at the 1827 St Leger, there were as many as 27 false starts in order to engineer the disqualification of the heavily backed Mameluke.

It was Bentinck, who from a position of a steward of the Jockey Club, introduced the dual flag system of starting and also introduced fines for jockeys that didn't impose it. This worked for some time, but it was not until the starting gate was invented in 1894 by Alexander Gray that things really changed. Gray was angry that his son, a jockey, got fined for an early start and invented what has become a horse racing staple ever since.


Photo Finish

In addition to race starts, race finishes also had to be regulated. The fact that photography was booming in the late 19th century helped the discovery of another iconic horse racing invention - the photo finish.

However, it wasn't until 1937, when the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club started that the photo finish became a horse racing hallmark. The organizer, Bing Crosby wanted to host the best show ever made and the photo finish was his main asset.

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