There are few better days out than an afternoon or evening spent out at the track watching horse racing. Horse racing has been one of the few sports that has truly adapted to modern day life in the way that it has embraced the fact that visitors want to take their family out for the day.
However, many still question whether participating in horse racing picks is a family friendly activity, with some concerned that it is still an alcohol fueled sport with millions just attending to bet on the action on track. So, how has the sport become more family friendly, and who are some of the most famous families in the sport?
Tracks Entice Families With Offers
Sports, such as soccer and basketball, can often be extremely expensive to attend as a family, with clubs and teams across the world doing little to help burden the financial pressure of attending live action. However, the same can’t be said of horse racing, as the sport does almost the opposite in order to get family members through the door.
Initiatives in the sport have been evident throughout the modern era, with under 18s having been allowed into the majority of landmark racecourses free of charge. That has been mirrored by recent stats released by GBR, which have shown that 44% of the people attending a race meet were born in 2000 or later.
The same stats also found that there was a huge increase in the number of families attending a day out at the racing during the school holiday periods. One of the biggest factor behind this figure could have been the offer to enable under 18s to attend for free, as it means that parents can take the kids out for an affordable day of fun without breaking the bank.
Is Horse Racing A Good Day Out?
Horse racing is a hugely enjoyable day out for the whole family, with high-quality action on track and enjoyable experiences for younger visitors around the course. A growing number of race tracks are tapping into the family environment, meaning that the vast majority of big tracks now offer a kids play zone, as well as educational locations to learn more about the sport.
Learning about the sport is incredibly important for both the sport and families, as it will ensure that horse racing has longevity. Here, younger visitors can find out more about the training and care that horses get away from the track, as well as how jockeys have reached the heights that they have during their career.
Attracting families to a day at the racing has already had a huge impact on the sport, with the average age of Racegoers dropping from 50 to 44 in recent years. It is likely to drop further over the coming years, as more and more younger fans get involved in the sport on a regular basis.
Famous Racing Families
Of course, the main aim of courses when attracting families is to inspire the next wave of talent in the sport. It has been shown throughout history that people that grow up in the sport have continued to stay involved in horse racing, leading to dynasties of some of the all-time great families in horse racing.
The O’Brien name is synonymous with racing on the flat, with Aidan being revered as one of the greatest trainers in history. His father, Denis, was a small-time trainer, but Aidan has taken the family name to unique heights. During his career, he has trained the winner of the 2,000 Guineas on ten occasions, eight Ascot Gold Cup victors, and has been the winning trainer in the Epsom Derby on nine occasions. Aidan’s son Joseph enjoyed success as a jockey, winning the Irish Derby with Camelot and Australia in 2012 and 2014, respectively.
His success continued as a trainer, with Joseph scoring landmark wins in the St Leger in 2020 and the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf in 2019. Aidan’s youngest son Donnarcha also enjoyed success in the saddle, before becoming one of the youngest trainers to enjoy Group 1 success in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Jumps racing has been dominated by the Mullins family throughout modern history. First, Paddy Mullins achieved great success throughout his 52-year career, including when guiding Dawn Hill to win the Champion Hurdle in 1984 and the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1986. However, the family success has reached unrivalled success with Willie Mullins, who has been crowned Irish National Hunt Champion Trainer on 17 occasions.
Willie has landed 94 Cheltenham Festival winners during his career, which is the record. He has also trained the winner of the Gold Cup on three occasions, as well as a record 12 Champion Bumper victors. Racing continues to live on in the family, with Patrick Mullins serving as the assistant trainer to Willie. Patrick rode his first winner at 16, and he rode a record 74 wins as an amateur in 2012.