Horse Racing, Greyhound Racing and Breeding in W. EuropeThursday Dec 19th, 2013
Horse racing is held in nearly all countries in Western Europe and many of the most famous races in the world are held here, races such as the “Arc de Triomphe” in France and the Epsom Derby in England. Ireland has a rich history of horse racing of all kinds, including point to point, flat and jump racing. Many Irish owners normally desend on the Cheltenham festival in England and usually take a majority of the races.
The English Derby is probably the most prestigious race on the continent but there are also Derbys in Italy, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Steeplechase racing is a less popular form of racing and is mainly held in just the UK, France, Ireland and Italy. Two of the world famous steeplechase races are the Grand National and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Betting offices abound on Europe’s streets in nearly every country and Europe is home to some of the world’s largest betting shops, (Bookies). Some of the biggest bookmakers in the world are based in Europe such as Ladbrokes and Corals.
There are many associations in each country and Jockey Clubs, the English Jokey Club is over 250 years old.
Greyhound racing is by far the most popular in the UK and Ireland, the first attempt at Greyhound racing was in England in 1876. On the continent countries who are members of the Continental Greyhound Racing Confederation http://www.cgrc-europe.com include Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and Cyprus. Tracks in some of the CGRC member countries are often seasonal only. The oldest and biggest track operator in Europe is the GRA Limited (Greyhound Racing Association) . In 1926 the GRA staged Great Britain’s first ever race at Belle Vue, Manchester watched by a crowd of 1700 people. Today, with a turnover of £28 million, GRA has six stadiums at Oxford, Wimbledon, Portsmouth, Hall Green and Perry Barr in Birmingham and the original Belle Vue.
The Basque region which covers both France and Spain is the birth place of the game Jai Alai and many towns in the region have their own teams and frontons. The game is called pelota vasca in Spain but the Western Hemisphere name of Jai-alai, which is Basque for "merry festival". was given when it was introduced in Cuba. Jai Alai also has a strong support base in Italy.