Friday, 7 March 2014

The Origins of Horse Racing and its Galloway Connections

History of Horseracing in Galloway


The Sport of Kings may trace its roots back to the Galloway Hills of southwest Scotland.

Dates of interest: Alexander I (c. 1078 – 1124), called "The Fierce", King of Scotland, was reported to have imported a pure bred Arabian horse and gifted it to the church at St Andrews in 1103. 1662 - regular sailing service between Ireland and Port Patrick (Galloway) Scotland.
 hawkitHorseracing has been in existence for many centuries. Indeed, in the Homer attributed versions of The Iliad and The Odyssey we read of their great chariot races, so competitiveness in speed and stamina of horses has been around for much longer than time is able to adequately record. As well as this, we read of the 'immortal' horses, Xanthus and Balius, and in many cave drawings we see hunters on horses, albeit small horses.

The Bible records King Solomon as an avid horse breeder, with grand stables and hundreds of mares, many brought to him from Egypt. These animals have been revered since mankind evolved. But how often do we hear mention of Scotland's rich horseracing past in such conversations?  

bladnochtrotWhen we refer to horse racing in modern times, we automatically think of Thoroughbreds, Arabs or Standardbreds (trotters or pacers) depending on where our allegiance lies, racing over distances of anything from 5 furlongs (sprint) to 4.5 miles, in the case of the Grand National.  

Across the Atlantic, we hear of the American Quarter Horses, so-named for their incredible speed over the quarter mile, a mere 2 furlongs by today's track measures. But these distances pale into insignificance when compared to the traditional match races run on our racecourses of old. Twenty miles was not unheard off at that time.

On further investigation, we discover a plethora of local and regional racetracks, many nothing more than the flat sands of the coasts staked out at low tide.  

Probably the first racecourse, as we recognise them today, was right here in Scotland, in the market town of Lanark… Read more here  

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