Thoroughbred horseracing is the third most patronised sport in Australia after AFL and rugby league, and what began as a hangover from English colonialism, has turned into a national pastime.
Once a year, Australia "stops" for a single 3.2 kilometre race — the Melbourne Cup.
University of Sydney history Professor Emeritus Richard Waterhouse said Australians had always been keen about horseracing.
"It was part of the cultural baggage which was brought over from England," he told Linda Mottram on 702 ABC Sydney Mornings.
"The first horse races conducted in Australia took place in Sydney in the 1790s, not long after the colony was settled.
"Initially there were no thoroughbreds in Australia, they just used work horses for racing, but by about 1800 there were sufficiently wealthy colonists that they began to import thoroughbreds."