Horses have exerted an age-old fascination on human societies. Man has tamed and used this graceful quadruped as a war machine, fellow traveler, beast of burden, sporting companion, and as pets for thousands of years. Horses have been an enabler of massive conquests, participated in empire building, added momentum to early agriculture, and allowed humans to traverse large distances on horseback. Chariot races were popular in ancient Rome and represent the earliest known examples of organized horse races. In modern times, elite circles in human society invest in pure thoroughbreds as status symbols and trophies won at the racecourse. That said, we note that horse racing is essentially a game of skill where winning depends on information and the operation of many variables. We will discuss these factors in the paragraphs below.
Performance sport – Horse racing is essentially an equestrian sport that has fascinated millions of viewers around the globe. This is essentially a game of skill that hinges on many factors that can influence the performance of individual horses. The top breeds of racehorses usually have elite ownership (single owner or multiple owners). Each racehorse has to be vetted for health conditions and must be carefully groomed prior to a race. The outcomes of a race can be assessed predicated purely based on access to information.
Training the horses – Race horses must be trained from an early age with the objective of gaining speed and stamina. These critical factors separate winning horses from the competition. Trainers and jockeys systematically administer high-speed training regimens. Medical treatments and the use of technology help horses to attain sustained bursts of speed on dirt racetracks. Nutrition plays an important part in training and grooming these prized beasts for the winner’s podium. Veterinarian professionals attend to the various health requirements of modern racehorses; they recommend the ideal diet for these animals and attend to any medical interventions as required.
Money-spinners – Modern racehorses are bred for speed, agility, and the stamina to win on any race course. The bloodlines of certain classes of thoroughbreds can be traced to Arabian horses that were bred with other horses in remote antiquity. These horses can win huge amounts of prize money for their owners. These achievements are considered very prestigious in many continents; they help attract fans and followers to the sport of horse racing. Ambitious owners often invest stupendous sums of money in acquiring, training, feeding, and racing prized thoroughbreds in racetracks across the world.
Legal game – The Honorable Supreme Court of India has ruled that horse racing is a game of skill, the outcomes of which depend on systematic training of the racehorses. Participants in horse races must have deep and expansive knowledge about multiple aspects of the sport. Horses, owners, trainers, jockeys, race field attendants, and administrators – all play a unique role in the development of the horse racing spectacle. The skills of the jockey can be a crucial contributor to the outcomes of a horse race. Similarly, the innate abilities and stamina of a horse can help tilt the scales in favor of a particular animal. In light of the above, the Supreme Court of India noted horse racing does not fall within the ambit of gambling activities.
Commercial ‘shops’ – The apex court has declared horse racing clubs and turf clubs in India ‘shops’ that “provide services to members as well as public in lieu of consideration.” The court has gone on record to state that such clubs conduct horse racing primarily as entertainment of the club members and invited guests. In addition, the court has observed that these clubs provide various commercially organized services to members and spectators for a consideration. These observations clearly indicate that horse racing, as a sport remains exempt from betting and gambling activities as defined by the law in the Republic of India.
In light of these facts and arguments, we may conclude horse racing is essentially a game of skill.