Globalisation of Horse Racing: Emerging Markets and International Competition

When it comes to sports, there is nothing that matches the history and enduring appeal of horse racing. It has been around for thousands of years and is even more popular now than it was hundreds of years ago when it was the only show in town.

Horse betting odds, form breakdowns, and live race streams are terms that are Googled by hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of punters every single day. That is in large part down to the widespread appeal of horse racing but perhaps more so because of the effect that globalisation has had on the sport in recent decades.

In this article we take a look at how horse racing has become a staple sport in almost every corner of the globe.

Globalisation: What is it?

In 1584 Sir Walter Raleigh brought potatoes back to Britain following his voyage to Virginia. Prior to that porridge, the appetizingly named gruel and bread were the staple sources of carbohydrates for the average Briton.

In 1843 scientists discovered that the latex found within the Gutta-percha tree was a useful natural thermoplastic. Within 10 years a series of underwater telegraph cables that were insulated with Gutta-percha were laid across the seabed’s of the world.

What those two pieces of information serve as, are examples of globalisation. Sir Walter Raleigh’s voyages to the New World allowed him to bring back with him discoveries such as potatoes and tobacco that changed the world.

Likewise the discovery of the thermoplastic properties of an Indonesian and Malaysian tree, in the 19thcentury laid the foundations for intercontinental communications. Without globalization, with everyone relying on their own domestic products, neither of these two things would have happened.

So in short, globalisation can be defined as the interaction of people, companies, cultures and governments from all over the world.

(If you’ve got time to kill the story of Gutta-percha, it will captivate you for a couple of hours at the very least.)

Globalisation: What Does it Mean in Horse Racing?

In terms of horse racing, globalisation has worked in reverse to potatoes, tobacco and Gutta-percha. Instead of being found in the new world and brought to the west, the converse has happened. Horse racing has been popular in Europe for centuries.

Then it was brought to America with the expansion of Europeans and to colonies such as Australia and New Zealand. In recent decades however it has moved into new territories, not by means of conquest, but rather by means of commercialism.

Asian and Middle Eastern markets have a large appetite for sports and gambling, so horse racing was always going to be a hit with that demographic. And so it has been. In recent years we have seen a growing number of events staged in these parts of the world as the financial rewards on offer to promoters and competitors has been too much to ignore.

Horse racing is a lucrative export, after all. The Dubai World Cup, for example, held at the Meydan Racecourse is now one of the premier meets on the planet, rivaling traditional racecourse like Royal Ascot for prestige.

China, Japan, South Korea and many other countries are welcoming tens of thousands of spectators to racetracks for events that are shown all over the world by sports broadcasters. In addition to the physical globalisation of horse racing, there is also the digital element of horse racing globalisation.

British horse racing events that were traditionally highlights of the calendar for British and Irish race enthusiasts are now marquee television events in Australia and Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Durban and Philadelphia and Phuket.

Now, more than perhaps any other point in history, horse racing is a truly global sport. Whether it be watched for pure sporting drama or sports betters, millions around the globe are choosing to tune into the very latest racing action.

(Expect to see more and more horse racing events held in this particular area of the world.)

Globalisation: What Does the Future Hold?

The future of horse racing can be glimpsed just by looking at other sports. Globalisation has not acted on horses alone, it’s at play in almost every major sport on the planet. At the time of writing the T20 World Cup is being held in the West Indies and United States.

Two years ago the FIFA World Cup was held in Qatar and looks likely to be in Saudi Arabia in the 2030s. Globalisation is sending major sports tournaments all around the world, and it’s not just internationals either. Domestic leagues such as the NFL are playing games overseas and it’s only a matter of time until other sports leagues follow suit.

Horse racing, without the cultural ties of sports such as football is, like boxing, free to move wherever it wants. In the coming years don’t be at all surprised to see more and more top class horse racing events held in major growth areas like Asia and the Middle East.