An Englishman Gives You His Experience of Horse Racing in Finland

Ever since I was a small boy, I have been enamored by horses. I owe this to my grandad, who was the world’s biggest horse racing fan. I am not exaggerating when I say that you would not have found a bigger horse racing fan than him. Before he passed away a few years ago, we would often go and watch some of the biggest racing events in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, such as the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National. We had a trip to Finland planned because we know how much they all love their horse racing, but he died before we managed to go. However, in honour of his memory, I still took the trip, and this is my story.

How Did Horse Racing Begin in Finland?

Horse racing in Finland is something that came about from the hobby of racing home after mass and this was something that was really popular among the farmers. The first horse race in Finland was run in 1817 in Turku, but then agriculture in Finland started to become more machine-based, so the need for horses decreased and so did harness racing. When the 1960s rolled around, the number of races in Finland had dropped by almost 50%.

However, things soon started to pick up and harness racing was promoted by the government as a new kind of recreation for city dwellers. The country’s old racecourses were renovated, and some new ones were constructed, while trotter breed importation added a twist to events – it used to be only Finnhorses that could be raced. Thus, harness racing, which is known as “ravit” in Finnish, was now being seen as a more professional activity and not just something that farmers did as a hobby. As a result, it is getting more attention.

Soon Parimutuel betting started, which is known as a Tote in the United Kingdom, and this led to even more interest in harness racing. The popularity increased even more, and nowadays horse races are run in Finland on every day of the year apart from Christmas Day. It is now a sport that attracts close to a million spectators each year, making it the second biggest spectator sport in the country.

A Huge Betting Culture Throughout Finland

There is something that became obvious to me when I was in Finland, and this is that the Finnish love to do some gambling, whether that is betting on sports such as ravit or playing their favourite casino games, they are not too picky. I actually remember speaking to a lovely Finnish guy at one race that I attended, and I asked him if he liked to gamble. He gave me a big toothy grin and told me that when you are in Finland you might as well assume that whoever you are speaking to likes to gamble. I asked him out of curiosity what it is that he enjoys gambling on, and he told me, “Whatever is available”.

He went on to inform me that he has won €600 that day betting on the trotting and that this was a lean day for him. He then told me that he was off to try and win some more money, gave me a big handshake, and disappeared into the throng of people. I do often wonder if he went on to have more success on that day or whether he lost the €600 that he had made. If I were in his shoes, I would have not risked losing the profit I had made for that day.

Why We Wanted to Visit Finland

Being British, me and my grandad had a lot of knowledge when it came down to thoroughbred racing. However, we heard that there was not much of a galloping culture throughout Finland and that they all love harness racing. Now, harness racing is not popular in the United Kingdom at all, so we knew little about it. Therefore, we thought it would be an awesome idea to go to Finland to learn all about it while also experiencing some stunning Scandinavian scenery.

As mentioned earlier, close to a million Finns go and watch harness racing each year. If this is the first time that you are hearing about this sport, then you probably have no idea what it is exactly. Well, in harness racing you will have the jockey sitting in a two-wheeled cart that the horse is pulling and not on his back like in thoroughbred racing in places such as the United States, UK, Australia, and France.

There are 43 harness racecourses in the country, with many of them being more than a few decades old. When you are visiting Finland, you can be sure that you are never that far from a harness racing venue. The ones that I paid a visit to while in Finland all came with great facilities, meaning that every day was a fun one.

The Finns are known for having a laid-back and relaxed nature, which is one of the reasons why harness racing is so popular now. Harness races are a lot more leisurely than your usual thoroughbred race, but there are many more tactics involved.

Where Did I Watch Harness Racing?

If you are taking a trip to Finland with the main reason being to experience their harness racing, then there is one particular track that you have to pay a visit to, and this is Vermo. This track, which opened in 1977, is the Finland’s main harness racing track. It is located in Leppävaara, in the Espoo district, but there are many who say that it is in Helsinki. This actually reminded me of a dispute that Londoners have about whether Dagenham is in London or Essex. Either way, it does not matter, but we all know that us humans love debating trivial matters.

The biggest harness race that happens at Vermo is called the Finlandia-Ajo. This race, which is is run over 1,609 metres, was first run in 1980, and it has taken place each year since. The winner of this prestigious event gets their hands on a prize of hundreds of thousands if Euros and a huge increase in their reputation in the sport. This is probably the equivalent to a thoroughbred jockey winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup or the Grand National.

I made sure that I was in Finland when this big race was due to take place. The weather was really cold on the day, but I was never going to let the cold ruin my day. There was a horse taking part that was called Ready Express, and this reminded me of my grandad as my granny’s nickname for him was Mr. Express because he was so quick at getting ready when we were going to horse racing events. When it came to anything else, especially helping her with shopping, he would take ages to get ready. Therefore, in loving memory of him, I bet on Ready Express to win and he did. I am not a religious person, but I think he might have been looking down on me that day.

I then traveled three hours north to Finland’s picturesque town called Mikkeli. This town has become very popular for tourists because there are plenty of forests, lakes, and different wildlife to see. One reason why I paid this town a visit was because I heard how stunning it was, but the main reason I wanted to go was because the St. Michel ravit event was happening their during my stay. The racetrack was packed and the atmosphere was so electric that I am sure the hair on my body was standing on end. I placed a few bets, but I did not win any – that did not dampen my day though.

An Experience I Will Remember

My trip to Finland is something I will never forget. If you are a huge horse racing fan, then I recommend that you take a trip to Finland as the horse racing scene is outstanding. The Finnish people are really friendly and easy to speak to, especially when they find out how much you love horse racing. I will always cherish my trip to Finland, but there is one big regret that I have, and this is that my grandad could not share it with me.

Let Us Take a Much Closer Look at the Horse Racing Scene in Sweden

Sweden has about 360,000 horses, which works out at around 39 horses for every 1,000 people. The Swedes absolutely love horses, with the horse industry being worth an estimated 50 billion SEK every year. Actually, after soccer, trotting and thoroughbred racing are Sweden’s most popular spectator sports with more than 1 million Swedes visiting Swedish race tracks each year. Below we are going to have a look at horse racing history in Sweden, the best places to watch it, as well as some helpful gambling tips.

Horse Racing History in Sweden

According to the record books, the first horse race in Sweden happened back in 1814, which means that horse racing has been a part of Swedish culture for more than 200 years. The first horse race in Sweden was held to celebrate the new King of Sweden, Charles XIV, taking over from Charles XIII. This race was run at Heden, which has the honour of being the first racecourse in Sweden.

After this first race, it was another 17 years before the next horse race took place in Sweden, and the Patriotic Association of Horse Culture came into being in 1831. The Chairman of this association was Count Magnus Brahe, who was part of the Royal circle. That very same year, the first horse race was run in Stockholm. Also in 1831, horse racing took place at Skane for the first time, which is a county in the south of the country.

During 1849 to 1867, there was a bit of a break from horse racing, and when it returned a new racing organisation was developed. The Swedish Jockey Club was created in 1890 and they were in charge of everything to do with horse racing in Sweden up until 1959, which is when Swedish Galop took over the reins (pun intended), and they are still in charge to this day.

What Exactly is Trotting?

Earlier in the introduction we told you that trotting is really popular in Sweden, and we are going to take a closer look at what it is.

Trotting, also known as harness racing and called “trav” in Swedish, is a type of horse racing that everyone in Sweden is familiar with. In fact, it is not an exaggeration to say that the whole of Sweden has a bit of a soft spot for trotting – there is even a TV channel that is completely dedicated to it. But what exactly is it, we hear you ask? Well, instead of their being a jockey on the horse, there is one that sits in a two-wheeled card that the horse is pulling.

To help you understand just how popular trotting is in Sweden, you will find no fewer than 33 tracks across the country. A lot of these tracks were built more than four decades ago, and they can be found in some of the country’s smaller cities to. They all come with excellent facilities and offer a lovely day out for families.

One of the reasons why trotting is as popular as it is that the racing occurs at a leisurely pace, and tactics are much more important than they are in flat racing, where speed is the name of the game. To put it another way, trotting is more popular because it is a reflection of Swedish lifestyle.

The people of Sweden feel that the origins of trav come from the north of the country. The workers up there will cut down some trees and then they would transport the wood to its required destination using a horse and cart. The workers would actually race each other just to add some fun to this boring job. It soon transformed into a sport and nowadays it is worth millions each year.

The Swedish not only love to watch trotting, but they also love to place bets on it. The most famous track for trotting is Solvalla, which is located in Stockholm. The biggest event for trotting is Elitloppet, and this race takes place at Solvalla, with the winner landing an impressive 2 million SEK. This prestigious race has been taking place each year since 1952.

Best Places to Enjoy Horse Racing in Sweden

We are now going to take a closer look at some of the best locations to enjoy quality horse racing events across Sweden.

If you love your thoroughbred racing, then this information will be of great interest to you. You will be happy to find out that there are more than 750 thoroughbred races across Sweden every year. Bro Park Racecourse, also known as Bro Park, is where thoroughbred racing is held. This racetrack can be located in the municipality of Upplands-Bro, which is 45-mins northeast of Stockholm. The first race took part here in June 2016 and over 10,000 showed up to watch the action.

However, if you go to Sweden and are nowhere close to this racetrack, then you have nothing to worry about as there are plenty of other racetracks where you can go to enjoy thoroughbred racing. Some other great places to watch horse racing include the Gothenburg Track in Gothenburg, the Strömsholm track that is located close to the tiny town of Västerås, and the Jägerso track that can be found in Malmö.

However, if you want to experience some traditional Swedish trotting while you are in Sweden, the following is information that you should read carefully.

Aby Racetrack happens to be the second biggest trotting racecourse in the country. It can be found in Gotehnburg, which is 10km south of Mölndal. This track has been hosting races since 1936, but it only became dedicated to trotting races in 1976. The major yearly trotting events that happen here are the Konung Gustaf V:s Pokal, Olympiatravet, Aby Stora Pris, and the Drottning Silvias Pokal.

Årjängstravet, which is found in Årjäng, is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful trotting tracks in the whole country. This racetrack was built by 8 men using just shovels, wheelbarrows, and horses. There are around 20 trotting events that are held here each year, with the Årjäng Big Sprinter Race being the biggest one.

The biggest trotting racecourse in Scandinavia is Solvalla, whcich can be found in Stockholm. Other big trotting events in Sweden includes the likes of Swedish Trotting Oaks, Swedish Trotting Criterium, and Jubileumspokalen. So, if you are in Sweden and want to experience some great trotting races, check out when the aforementioned races are taking place and plan a trip accordingly.

Gambling Tips

The trotting betting markets are pretty similar to those that you will find when you are betting on thoroughbred races. For instance, you can bet on the horse and jockey that will go on to win or whether you think they will come in the top three. There is one trotting bet that Swedes love to place, and this is the V75 bet that occurs each Saturday. Here you have to choose the winning horse from seven races in a row, and if you manage to guess correctly you will walk away with a huge profit. Below we are going to give you some gambling tips to keep in mind.

Do Plenty of Research

Before you go ahead and spend your hard-earned cash on some bets, you need to find out all the information that you can about the horses that will be running. Taking a look at how successful a horse has been performing is a very good way to see if they stand a good chance of winning once again. You need to also find out as much information as you can regarding the jockey. Many people do not pay much attention to the jockey, but if a horse is being ridden by a poor jockey, their chances of winning will diminish.

Pay Attention to the Odds

Each horse that runs in a race will have their own winning odds. While horses that have lower odds, also known as being the favourites, are not guaranteed a win, stats have shown that choosing the race favourite is something that pays off regularly. For instance, the favourite will win 33% of the time, and betting on the favourite to come first or second is something that comes off 53% of the time. Betting on the favourite to come first, second, or third is something that comes true 67% of the time.

The Best UK Horse Racing Events to Do a Sport of Horse Racing Betting

Horse racing, due to the fact that it used to be for royalty only, was known as the Sports of Kings. However, it much more inclusive now and is a popular sport all over the world. Nowadays, all of the big British horse races are iconic all over the world, and horse racing is a sport that has a huge following the United Kingdom. There are so many horse racing fans in Britain that it is second only to football when it comes to popularity. In this article, we shall have a look at some of the major horse racing events that happen in Britain on a yearly basis.

Betting on Horse Racing in Britain

The Brits love to place bets on sports, this is definitely no secret. However, there is something that might surprise you and this is that more money is bet on horse races in the United Kingdom than on football. It is estimated that about £4 billion is wagered on horse racing each year in the UK.

Why is betting on horse racing so popular? Well, we feel that it is down to entertainment value. For instance, if you watch some football and you are supporting one of the teams that are taking part, you already have emotional investment in the match since you want one team to win over the other. However, with regard to horse races, it is not very likely that you will be supporting one horse above the rest. Thus, by betting on one of the horses to win, you can increase the entertainment levels.

One other reason why horse racing betting is really popular is probably down to the fact that there is plenty of money that can be won when you manage to predict correctly. Even a favourite for a race can have decent odds, which is never usually the case when it comes down to other sports like football. Thus, if you stick a tenner on a horse to be victorious, you can usually end up making a tidy profit if that horse goes on to be the winner.

Any respectable sportsbook that accepts British players will offer horse racing betting markets, so it can sometimes be hard to find quality horse racing betting sites so that you can bet on all the big races. However, if you follow the link that we just provided, their experts will help you to find the best sportsbook for you to bet on the horses.

Biggest Horse Races in the United Kingdom

Below we are going to take a look at some of the biggest horse racing events that take place in the UK each year.

Cheltenham Festival

The Cheltenham Festival is certainly the National Hunt season pinnacle. There are four days of great action and more than 250,000 people travel to the Cotswold Hills to watch the races live. During these four days of racing, it is safe for us to say that champions are made, while others have their reputation left in tatters. At this festival, the best horses and jockeys in the United Kingdom and Ireland battle it out for millions of pounds worth of prize money. If you are a huge horse racing fan and are looking for something to do in March, then we suggest that you book a trip to the Cotswold.

The Grand National

This is one of the world’s most iconic and biggest horses races, and it is held at Aintree, Liverpool. There is usually around 65,000 people watching at the venue, while there will be another 600 million watching the event across the globe to see the horse that will be win the race and become the next legend alongside the likes of Red Rum, Foinavon, and Aldaniti. This big race takes place in April and there are other races across the weekend that you can bet on. If you happen to be in Liverpool in April and love your horse racing, we suggest that you go to Aintree for a nice day out.

Epsom Derby

Each year, about 125,000 horse racing fanatics make their way to Epsom Downs in Surry on the first weekend in June so that they can enjoy the Epsom Derby. When it comes to beautiful horse racing venues, this is one of the most stunning ones in England as you can get a great panoramic view of London. The Epsom Derby is a race that all jockeys want to win since there are not a lot of other thoroughbred races that can match it for history and prestige.

Royal Ascot

The Royal Ascot is one of the pinnacles of the horse racing calendar in Britain. The color, variety, and beauty of this horse racing event is unique and combines innovation and tradition. Those who attend this festival can enjoy five days of brilliant racing as well as partying since more than 300,000 horse racing fans heard to this Berkshire racecourse from across the UK. If you are in Berkshire when this event is taking place in June, you would be foolish if you missed out on it.

Yorkshire Ebor Festival

This extremely entertaining horse racing festival begins with the Juddmonte International and finishes with the York Ebor race four days later. If you attend this festival, then you will be treated to some of the richest, oldest, and fastest races in the horse racing world. You will almost certainly get to see history being made. So, if you are in Yorkshire in August and love your horse racing, you should think about going along to this event.

Best Casino Games for Horse Racing Fans

Horse racing enthusiasts are spoilt for choice when it comes to daily online betting. However, there are some great alternatives to betting on a horse race and below you will discover some of the best casino games for horse racing fans.

You will notice most of the casino games highlighted below fall under the slots category of casino gaming and that is because it is easier to tailor a slot game to a particular theme. If you are interested in seeing a huge selection of various slot games, head to where there are plenty available to play.

Returning to the horse racing theme and one the best online casino games for horse racing fans is Frankie Dettori’s Magic Seven. This game was released in 2010 and produced by Playtech in celebration of the success achieved by the famous jockey. The Frankie Dettori’s Magic Seven slot game is played on five reels with 25 paylines and although the graphics may not be cutting edge, there is plenty to like about the slot from a horse racing fans point of view. There are three Frankie symbols, one of which is the wild, plus various horse racing themed symbols including trophies and horseshoes. The free games race feature is a nice touch and this allows you to back a jockey to win a race, much like you would at a sportsbook. If your selection finishes in first, second or third, you will receive free spins. As a horse racing fan, you are likely to return to Frankie Dettori’s Magic Seven again and again.

Moving on and we come to Sure Win, a horse racing themed slot game developed by Microgaming. This casino game was released in 2019 and has enjoyed great success as players back a horse to win the race. Complete with an impressive RTP of 96.29%, Sure Win has 5 reels and 25 paylines and some the symbols to look out for on the reels include binoculars, a jockey’s hat, tickets to the races and a golden cup. Three horses and three jockeys complete the basic symbol selection and in terms of the horse racing theme, Sure Win is difficult to beat.

Not all of the leading casino games for horse racing fans are slots and virtual horse racing has become popular in recent years. If there is no horse racing markets available at your online bookmaker, virtual horse racing is a great alternative. In many ways, virtual horse racing is like a computer game as the race is software based. You choose the horse you would like to back just as you would do with a standard race and place your bet. If you are interested in betting on horse racing but do not have the time to learn everything about the horses and jockeys in real races, virtual horse racing is the perfect casino game.

Some of the other slot based casino games that are ideal for horse racing fans include Derby Dollars, Lucky Day at The Races, and Champion of the Track.

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