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Horse Racing

 

Introduction

The sport of Horse Racing is a great competitive sport, involving Flat Horse Racing, Jumps Horse Racing and the All Weather Horse Racing. The degree of technical skill required is probably greater for jumps than for the flat, although this may depend on your point of view. Certainly its a different kind of racing altogether and the skills of getting a horse to jump what are very significant fences on chase courses is a different ball game entirely to flat racing say over 6 or 7 furlongs

 

Down At The Start

The method for getting the race of to a start is different depending whether the racing is on the flat or over jumps. With flat racing it is normal for the horses in the race to be entered one by one into what are called "the stalls". These are simply boxes into which the horses are placed with doors at the front, which open all at the same time, to let the horses in the race all start together

When the racing is Jump Racing, stalls are not used. Instead horses merely line up, roughly, and the starter uses his judgement as to whether the line in good enough for the race to begin. Often the horses will not actually be in one big line at all but will bunch into a set of lines all close together. To guide the starter there is usually a rope held across the start of the course which then rises when the starter is happy that racing can begin. If there is a false start then a second race official waves a red flag some way down the course. This is rarely needed as races over the longer distances required for jump racing are not affected by the horses being a few feet away from each other at the start

 

Distances

Horse Racing takes place over a variety of distances from 5 furlongs right up to 4 1/2 Miles for the Grand National. The shorter distances of up to 2 Miles is a more common distance for the Flat, while the longer distances are reserved for the Jumps

 

Trainers

Most horses are trained by professionals. This involves being attached to a yard, and undergoing quite extensive training such as on the private track, in water pools, daily exercise, rides by professional jockeys etc. Horses have to be kept in peak fitness especially as the target race approaches. This is where a professional trainer earns his money. Knowing how to read the handicap and how to get the best handicap rating by the relevant Horse Racing Board, is a critical art. Trainers will often run a horse on goings and courses/ tracks which they know the horse does not like and/or wont perform well at. This is point to poor form and the handicapper will adjust the ratings and weights carried accordingly. This is just what the trainer wants - to get the weights down to the right kind of margin for the "target race" - this will do just fine

 

Jockeys

Most horses are ridden by a professional jockey. Again there is a division between Jumps Jockeys and Flat Jockeys. In general, partly because there are more Flat races than Jumps races, there are many more flat jockeys then jump jockeys. In addition Jump jockeys have to be very skilled to get sometimes lazy horses over large obstacles, especially on chase courses. Here the fences are particularly steep and often incorporate water jumps and may require tight turns on landing

 

Courses

There are many different courses, each with their different characteristics. Some are left handed or right handed, some are straight or incorporate straight elements e.g. the "straight mile", some are mainly flat, some undulate etc. You will find more information on courses in the menu listing to the left

 

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