A horse race is an event where horses compete on a track for prize money. While the sport of horse racing has retained many of its long-held traditions and etiquette, it has also benefited from a series of technological advances on and off the racetrack. Thermal imaging cameras help spot potential heat exhaustion in a horse, while MRI scanners and endoscopes allow trainers to identify and treat health issues before they worsen. 3D printing has even been used to produce casts and splints for horses.
While many people think of a horse race as a sporting event in which spectators wear fancy clothes and sip mint juleps, there is a much darker side to the industry. Behind the romanticized facade, horses are forced to run for their lives at speeds that often cause injuries and even hemorrhage from their lungs. This is largely due to the use of whips and illegal electric shock devices.
The sport of horse racing has developed into a global enterprise and is regulated in most countries by national Horseracing Authorities. These organisations set the rules for how races should be run, although there are differences in rulebooks from country to country.
Before a race begins, all horses must be ‘declared’ to run – this usually happens the day before the race and takes place at the racecourse. At this stage a trainer will also declare the jockey who will ride the horse and any equipment they will be wearing (such as blinkers). This information is known as the final field for a race and appears on the racecard and in newspapers.
Each horse must be weighed on official weighing scales before the race to verify that it is carrying its allotted weight. When this has happened, it is called ‘weighing in’ and bookmakers will pay out winning bets at this point.
A horse that wins a race by a comfortable margin is said to have won by a ‘length and a half’. A win by a short margin is called a dead heat and is settled according to the rules of dead heat betting.
Typically, a jumps horse will begin its career in flat races, then progress to hurdling and finally steeplechasing as it matures. Each of these disciplines requires different skills and therefore a horse will usually spend a number of years in each before moving on to the next level.
A horse is considered to be in the lead if it is ahead of all other runners at the start of a race. A runner-up is in the second place and a third-place finisher is classified as a ‘third-in-the-front-runner’. A dead-heat occurs when two or more horses finish the race in an exact tie for first place. In a dead heat, bets on each horse are proportionally paid out. If the dead-heat resulted in a profit, the stake is applied at full odds to the selection that finished first. The same applies if there is a dead-heat for any other placing positions.