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Horseracing has been an important part of Australian sporting culture since the early days of European settlement. The first official races were held in 1810 at Hyde Park, Sydney.
By the 1860s racing clubs had been established in many cities and country towns. Race meets quickly became social, as well as competitive occasions, drawing together horse owners, trainers, grooms and jockeys, as well as spectators of all classes, bookmakers and punters.
Today, about 50,000 horses are involved in flat, jumps and harness racing, and more than five million people attend race meetings each year. Australians bet approximately $10 billion annually on horseracing.