Australia is one of the best places in the world to be a punter. In terms of codes, domestic and international markets and a slew of online bookmakers that make getting a bet on extraordinarily convenient, it is hard to find a better place than Australia to make some wagers.
Greyhound and Horse Racing
In Australia, there is a huge range of popular betting options to choose from. However, two of these betting sports that especially warrant attention are greyhound racing and horse racing. Success with betting on either sport can demand considerable skill and know-how, but these sports are also intriguing for their history. The development of horse racing, in particular, can be traced back many centuries before Australia's formation.
Here is a detailed look at both sports.
Par for the Horse: The History of Horse Racing
Although the origin of horse racing can't be precisely traced, it seems probable that humans have been racing with horses since they were first able to tame them. It is known that the ancient Greeks participated in horse racing as long ago as 700 BC. In fact, chariot racing was among the most popular sports in Ancient Greece and the Roman and Byzantine Empires, despite how dangerous the sport could be to the drivers and horses, who both often incurred serious injuries.
Somewhat closer to horse racing as we know it today was the mounted horse racing that formed part of the ancient Greek Olympics by the mid-7th century BC. This kind of horse racing was also popular in the Roman Empire, which began in 27 BC. In the mid-15th century, around the time that the last vestiges of the Empire faded, there was the first horse race intended to close Rome's spring carnival. A horse race regularly remained the carnival's finale until 1882.
In the early 17th century, King James I of England's fondness for horse racing ultimately led it to be dubbed the "Sport of Kings", as it was popular with English royalty and aristocracy. Horse racing came under more effective regulation in Britain during the 18th century - and when British settlers arrived in Australia that same century, they introduced horse racing to the territory. Since then, Australia has become one of the world's top three Thoroughbred racing nations.
Thoroughbred refers to a breed of horse especially bred for horse racing. Thoroughbreds compete in flat racing, in which horses directly gallop between specified start and end points on a straight or oval track. Other popular forms of horse racing include jump racing, where horses overcome obstacles; as well as harness racing, in which horses pull a sulky, a lightweight cart where the driver sits; and finally, endurance racing, where horses race across extreme distances.
Don't Make a Foal of Yourself When Betting
Fun though it can be to simply watch horse racing, there's no escaping the fact that for many or even most horse racing fans, much of the fun of the sport becomes from betting on it. Even if you have never previously betted on horse racing, you shouldn't struggle to imagine how the excitement builds as the race approaches, the tension as horses are locked in close competition on the track, and then the jubilation if the winner happens to be the horse you favoured in betting.
Nonetheless, choosing the winning horse certainly doesn't come easily; after all, bookies wouldn't make a lot of money if it did. Still, you can increase your chances of success by weighing up various factors as you endeavour to decide which horse should be your pick. Those factors include the horse's form and pedigree, while the animal's trainer and jockey can obviously be influential as well. However, you should also consider how different horses might handle the ground and weather.
If all of this is beginning to make horse racing betting seem complicated, that's because - certainly for novices - it actually is. We won't shy away from the fact that you would shorten your odds of success in this variety of betting if you set aside hours to study the form and statistics of the different horses who will be competing in the races where you will be betting.
Still, if you are a beginner, there are much more simple ways to reduce your chances of stumbling. For example, it would be wise for you to use only the two kinds of bet known as win and each-way. Both types of bet are rudimentary, and each-way betting is especially so; it involves you placing your bet at full odds and on just one horse. Should that horse win, you get a payout that will have been made clear to you before the race.
There's slightly more complexity to an each-way bet, where - again - you back a single horse, except that you are effectively placing two bets. One bet would be on the horse to simply win; the other would be on it "placing". There are numerous ranks in which horses can "place" when they don't outright win. Often, those ranks will be second, third and fourth; however, on especially significant races, a fifth ranking might be included as well.
Greyhound Racing: It's Not Black and White
Greyhound racing has more recent origins than horse racing; however, it did spring out of coursing, where greyhounds would be used to pursue animals for food. Coursing was often put to hunting purposes - and historically, has been especially strongly associated with the wealthy, including the nobility and landed. In 1876, there was one experiment with greyhound racing near the Welsh Harp reservoir near the London suburb of Hendon. However, the sport's next big milestone was in 1912...
That year, an American man - Owen Patrick Smith - invented the mechanical or artificial hare. Smith intended to prevent the greyhound racing industry - as it then existed – from killing jackrabbits. In 1919, it was on his watch that the earliest professional dog-racing track opened in California. Today, greyhound racing remains only an amateur pastime in many countries; however, Australia is one of the countries where greyhound racing instead forms part of a larger gambling industry.
Australia has many well-developed facilities for greyhound racing - including 65 venues where the sport can be professionally held. Each state capital has at least one such venue; for example, Sydney is home to Wentworth Park, while Perth has Cannington Raceway and Adelaide features Greyhound Park. Australia even has the planet's leading greyhound race in both wealth and prestige: the Melbourne Cup, which first took place in 1956 and now happens every November.
Today, greyhound racing has a simple setup quickly recognisable to followers of dog racing: the animals are raced along a track. In the case of greyhound racing specifically, this track is typically oval, while the greyhound is made to run to pursue an artificial lure. These days, this lure is based on a windsock and travels in front of the dog along a rail until the greyhound eventually crosses the finish line. In Australia, regulation of the game is the responsibility of the Australian Greyhound Racing Association, which comprises numerous state governing bodies.
Fifty Shades of Greyhound Race Betting
Greyhound racing can undoubtedly captivate spectators; however, the sport's popularity is also fuelled by the betting opportunities. It helps that success in betting here tends to depend not simply on luck, but also on the knowledge and experience that the bettor has developed. If you lack experience of betting on this sport, we would urge you to resist going overboard with your financial expenditure. However, once you are more used to betting on greyhound races, you could follow these tips...
Firstly, look up how old the different dogs are. Greyhounds tend to peak at roughly the age of two. You should also generally reserve your bets for canines that have fared well in previous races. However, keep in mind that, even if a particular greyhound has had good form, they are less likely to compete as effectively as another greyhound who has more recently raced. One big reason for this is that it might have been an illness or injury that necessitated the better-form dog taking time out.
Also, consider the weather. If it is particularly wet, you should probably select a heavier dog, as these tend to better handle this kind of weather in comparison to lighter hounds. However, before the race even starts, it’s a good idea to pay close attention to how the dogs behave. Dogs who are high in spirit tend to do better on the racetrack than competitors who, by comparison, look depressed pre-race.
Greyhound Matter... or the Main Horse?
Ultimately, which of these sports you should pay more attention to - and, of course, bet on - is very much your decision. There's also nothing wrong with placing bets on each sport as and when you deem suitable for maximising your chances of success. If you do pursue this strategy, make sure you don't overlook how implications for those chances can differ between these separate sports.
Compare and contrast the leading sites for both greyhound racing and horse racing with the help of our comprehensive charts and reviews right here at Top 10 Sports Betting Sites!