Republished annually in celebration of July 4, 1776


The town of Newmarket in Suffolk, England dates back to 1200.  It rightfully bills itself as “the town where horseracing, the ‘sport of kings,’ was born some three and a half centuries ago and from where it was exported around the world.”

Charles II was the original “king” in the “sport of kings.”  The Newmarket Racecourses website provides some history about the origins of horse racing as we know it:

“It was Charles II who did more than any other monarch to advance the sport of horseracing in this country–he instituted by Act of Parliament in 1665 the first race to be run in Britain under written rules and exported the name of Newmarket and the sport of horseracing to America that same year–and his love affair with Newmarket (not to mention with his mistress in the town, Nell Gwyn!) is well chronicled.”

The sport exported by Charles II took root in colonial America and had fans among historic giants like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe.  On July 4, 1776, these men and others launched the only revolution fomented by the upper classes.

On this Independence Day, we Americans are grateful that the Founding Fathers had the courage to break with Mother England.  But, speaking for myself at least, I am also grateful that one of the vast number of English customs and pastimes that continued on after the Revolution–and goes on today–was horse racing.

Wishing you a glorious 4th of July.

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