Before we reveal the top 10 free bets for horse racing we thought a quick history lesson might be of interest.
Horse racing has a long and distinguished history and has been practised in civilisations across the world since ancient times. Archaeological records indicate that horse racing occurred in Ancient Greece, Babylon, Syria and Egypt.
Chariot racing was one of the most popular ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine sports. Both chariot and mounted horse racing were fully established as popular events in the ancient Greek Olympics by 648 BC.
The tradition of British horse racing dates back to the days of the Roman Empire. Invading Roman soldiers organised the first tournaments on horseback around 200 AD. However, the first officially recorded horse race in the UK is 1174 in the London suburb Smithfield during a horse fair. Horse racing as a professional sport in the UK can be traced back to the 12th century...around the time English knights returned from the Crusades with Arab horses.
Thoroughbred racing became popular with the aristocrats and royalty of British society...earning it the title "Sport of Kings".
Only horses bred from a select stock are permitted to run in Thoroughbred races. All current Thoroughbred horses can be traced back to a core of three sires brought to England in the 17th and 18th centuries. These foreign horses (The Darley Arabian, The Byerley Turk and The Godolphin Arabian) were bred with local mares and careful selection eventually led to the three legendary sires (Matchem, Eclipse and Herod) from which the modern Thoroughbred system is derived.
The Darley Arabian: The Darley Arabian was bought by Thomas Darley in 1704 during his time in Syria. Standing 15 hands tall and considered exceptionally beautiful he was a popular stud at Aldby Park and his influence on horse breeding is huge. The Darley Arabian was to become the most important sire in the history of the English Thoroughbred. The Darley Arabian sired the undefeated Flying Childers. He also sired Bartlett's Childers - an unraced brother of Flying Childers - who was the great-grandsire of the extremely influential Eclipse. It has been estimated that around 95% of all male Thoroughbred racehorses can trace their lineage back to the Darley Arabian.
The Byerley Turk: The Byerley Turk was the first of the three foundation sires brought back to England. The story of the Byerley Turk begins at the seige of Buda in Hungary in 1688 when a fine brown charger was taken from a captured Turkish officer by Captain Robert Byerley of the Sixth Dragoon Guards under King William III of Orange. The horse was believed to be about eight years old at the time. The horse served his master faithfully until retirement from active service. Once retired he was put out to stud. His sire-line almost ended in the mid-18th century...but the dominant Herod revived the line. Only a handful of modern Thoroughbreds can now trace their line back to the Byerley Turk...making him the least influential of the three foundation sires.
The Godolphin Arabian: The Godolphin Arabian - or Godolphin Barb as he has also been known - was foaled about 1724 in Yemen and moved several times before reaching England. At some early age he was exported - most likely via Syria - to the stud of the Bey of Tunis. From there he was given to Louis XV of France in 1730. He was not valued by his new French owner and it is believed he was used as a carthorse. The horse was then imported from France by Edward Coke and sent to his stud at Longford Hall, Derbyshire where he remained until the death of his owner in 1733. He was finally bought by the 2nd Earl of Godolphin - hence the name Godolphin Arabian - and worked at his stud at Babraham, Cambridgeshire, until his death on Christmas Day 1753. The Godolphin Arabian was responsible for founding a line that has led to many champions. Not much was expected of the Godolphin Arabian when he first started breeding and he was only used after the prize horse of his stable had failed to stud. After producing Lath and then Cade by the same mare - both champion racehorses of their day - the Godolphin Arabian became a very popular stud.
Matchem: Matchem was the product of Cade...one of the most successful sons of the Godolphin Arabian. Matchem was highly sought after for breeding after returning an impressive record of 10-2-0 in 12 races, including wins in the some of the most important races of the day against the very best competition. He turned out to be a terrific stud and produced many champions. He was surprisingly small - only 14 hands 3 inches - but had excellent bone structure and race build. He produced a large number of chestnuts and a high percentage of blacks...suggesting he might have carried the rabicano gene.
Eclipse: It is estimated that 80% of modern Thoroughbreds can trace their line to Eclipse. Eclipse was the great grandson of the Darley Arabian via his sire-line...and the sire of his damsire was the Godolphin Arabian. Coming from such excellent stock it comes as no surprise that Eclipse was one of the most dominant racehorses of his day. He was undefeated in 19 races and only retired due to a lack of competition. When put out to stud he produced hundreds of champion horses...including winners of the Epsom Derby and the Epsom Oaks. His fee started at 10 guineas but soon rose rapidly to 25 and then to 50 guineas per mare as people saw the amazing potential.
Herod: Herod - also known as King Herod - was a product of the Byerley Turk line. He was a fine standing 15.3 hands high with a small star and no white on his legs. He was a powerful horse that was especially good at four-mile distances. His own racing career was not as good at that of Matchem or Eclipse...but his breeding success was staggering. He was the leading sire in Great Britain for 8 years running. The leading sire is determined by the amount of prize money won by the offspring of a horse and is the main factor used to determine a stallion's breeding value.
Hungry to know more about the history of horse racing in the UK? You might want to pay a visit to Palace House, Newmarket: National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art.
Below is a list of what we believe to be top 10 free bets for horse racing available online right now.
Competitive odds, wide range of markets and excellent customer service. There is no doubt in our minds that Coral deserve their spot at #1.
We have managed to negotiate an EXCLUSIVE £100 free bet bonus from Jetbull. Online since 2007 and fully licensed in the UK and Malta, Jetbull is an exciting online gaming and betting brand that captures the essence of entertainment and skill.
Genting is a well-respected casino brand that is now branching out into the world of sports betting. Place a bet, play poker, online bingo or casino games...it's your call!
Fred Done and his brother Peter started the chain with a single betting shop in Salford in 1967 and have since built it into the world's largest independent bookmaker. They pride themselves on being a fun and friendly company who do what's best for the customers and have made their name with their unique Double Delight & Hat-Trick Heaven promotion.
There are many reasons you should join Skybet. £20 free bet, Super 6 and Skybet Tracker to name just three!
Betfair are best know for their betting exchange. However, they make our list of top ten free bets because they now also offer a more 'traditional' betting experience at their sportsbook. They started at #10 but have already moved up to #7 in the top ten free bets pyramid. Can they go all the way to #1? Only time will tell!
888Sport do not technically offer a free bet at all. However, we feel that their 'Treble The Odds' offer is definitely worthy of a spot in the top 10.
Marathonbet is an independent sportsbook operator established in 1997. They are going from strength to strength and are rapidly becoming a serious player.
bwin is big time sports, real action and more.
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