Posted by ESC on January 06, 2000
In Reply to: "Horses for courses" posted by ESC on January 06, 2000
: : I would like to find out the origin of the phrases "horses for courses" amd "on the threshold" as I haven't been able to find this out anywhere else. I am quite aware of their current meanings but have been set the task of finding out where they came from and what the originally meant. I would appreciate it if anyone could help me out with this.
: : Louise Greig
: A while back, someone posted an inquiry about "horses for courses."
I contacted a racing magazine based in Kentucky and received a reply
that "horses for courses" is a racing term that simply means individual
horses do their "personal best" on particular race courses. A computer
glitch wiped out that Word file, but that's the answer I got to
the best of my recollection. My source couldn't tell me exactly
who first used the term.
PS. From "Encylopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, 1997): "horses for courses: A mostly British expression urging someone to stick to the thing he knows best, horses for courses comes from the horse racing world, where it is widely assumed that some horses race better on certain courses than on others. In 1898 a British writer noted in the first recorded use of the expression: 'A familiar phrase on the turf is 'horses for courses.'"