10 Things You May Not Realise That Can Affect Race Results
With the excitement of being on course watching the horses live, it’s easy to get caught up in the buzz and hype of placing bets – particularly after the first winning ticket – even if it was by pure chance!
Selecting horses for your bets can be a daunting process with form guides presenting reams of information and data which, to an inexperienced race-goer, can be cause for mild anxiety. Some select horses by name, by jockey, by the colours of the racing silks or the one they’re convinced winked at them in the parade ring – no matter how you decide to select the horses or even if you stick with the race favourite, sometimes the result doesn’t go as planned. Here are 10 things you may not know which could affect the results of the race:
- The Distance
Racehorses are generally categorized (much like human athletes) as to whether they are better suited to sprints or long-distance races. Whilst 400m may not sound like a huge difference in distance for animals which cover a lot of ground with each stride, the change in distance (coupled with the racecourse and the horses draw) could be a differentiating factor in a horses’ performance.
- The Racecourse
Not all racecourses are created equal and a 2000m race at one track can be quite different to the same distance race at another. Some racecourses have inclines along the distance where are others are flatter and faster, some have a long straight run to the finish line where others have a short run coming off a turn. This, coupled with the horses draw and position during the race, could have an impact on the results.
- The Going
The “going” refers to the state of the track itself which can be soft, hard or wet for example, depending on the weather. This can affect the result as some horses are better suited to different conditions and even though their training may have gone perfectly according to plan, last minute rains (or a severe lack thereof) may account for the difference in their performance.
- The Draw
The starting stalls, out of which racehorses jump at the start of the race, are drawn at random – giving all horses equal and fair opportunity. For sprints and races down the straight, the barrier draw is of less significance, but for races around a turn, the lower draws are preferable in order to obtain better positioning along the inside rail (provided the horse jumps on terms).
- The Start
A horse jumping on terms or not can have a significant impact on the outcome of a race. Even the best starter can have an off-day or be distracted as the gates open and not jump as quickly as usual which could cost them their preferred racing position and inevitably the race. Some are renowned for poor performance at the start but compensate and manage to overcome the disadvantage during the race. Comments regarding the start will be noted in a form guide but it’s important to understand that anything can happen on race day.
- Previous results
A good way to weigh up a horses’ chances in a race is by looking at its previous race history. The distance, racecourse and jockey could all be different however so race conditions and factors may not be consistent, it will however give you an indication of past performance and preferred race conditions.
The weight carried by the horses is decided by handicapping and merit ratings and is intended to make the race as fair as possible based on various factors. Depending on the weight of the jockey and his equipment, a horse with a higher carded weight may have to carry dead weight in the form of lead which puts them at a disadvantage – depending on the horses’ ability however it sometimes has no bearing at all on the result.
Horses can sometimes interfere in another horses’ performance unintentionally by shifting, bumping or obstructing their path to the finish line. While a lot of responsibility rests with the jockey to ensure their mounts keep their line (with hefty fines or even suspension time for failure to do so), it can often be beyond their control if a horse is green and inexperienced and it may impact the overall result of the race.
- Jockey partnership
Much like human athletes, sometimes not all the team members get along as well as others. Similarly with horses, some seem to react better to certain jockey’s and their riding styles. Whilst it may be pure chance and came down to the conditions on certain days, if a horse does have a jockey preference you will notice improved performance in the form guide on the days on which a certain jockey rode it.
- Off days
Much like humans, even at our fittest and despite near-perfect training conditions, sometimes horses also have bad days where they just don’t feel themselves and may not perform as anticipated. They’re living, breathing, emotional animals so we can expect that every performance may not be an improvement on the last nor consistent with the previous.
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