What is a Horse Race?

horse race

Horse races are competitions where horses are ridden by jockeys over a measured distance to determine the winner. Prize money is awarded to the first, second and third place finishers. There are many different types of races but most are based on Thoroughbred horses which have been specially bred for racing and jumping. There are also racehorses from other breeds and crossbreeds but Thoroughbreds have an enviable reputation for quality.

The sport is extremely popular and has become a major source of entertainment worldwide. Horse races are typically broadcast on television and there is a wealth of betting options available to fans. The sport is regulated by a set of rules which differ slightly between national organisations but most follow the original British rulebook.

There are two main types of horse races, Flat and Jumps. The latter is a more difficult discipline and requires great stamina from the horses as they tackle obstacles such as fences. Many jumps are made from timber and the rider must be able to judge the distance of each hurdle before attempting to jump it.

Flat races are run over a prepared surface such as a track, grass or dirt. The horses are conditioned for the type of ground to help them deal with the strain of racing. The most famous Flat races are the Triple Crown events which comprise the 2,000 Guineas, Oaks and Derby of Britain or the Preakness Stakes and Kentucky Derby in America. There are also other important Group and Graded Flat races that take place throughout the world.

A horse race is started when an electrically operated gate opens and the horses are released to start their journey. As the horses race they are monitored by stewards and patrol judges who look for rule violations. A photograph of the finish is also taken if the race is close and this must be studied by the stewards to decide on a winner. In the event of a dead heat, the result will be declared as a tie.

The weights that a horse must carry during a race are adjusted according to its age and experience. The younger a horse is the lighter its allowance. There are also sex allowances with fillies carrying less weight than males.

A horse considered to be the favourite of a stable will carry lower weight than its rivals in a race and is often shorter in the odds when being backed. It may display the owner’s colours, be ridden by the trainer’s regular jockey or have a ‘top fancy’ prefix to its name on the betting. Some horses are injected with legal and illegal substances to enhance their performance. It is estimated that three thoroughbreds die every day in North America from injuries sustained during races. Growing awareness about the cruelty of horse racing has prompted improvements but more needs to be done. Visit PETA to learn more about the issues facing racehorses including abusive training practices, drug use and transport to slaughterhouses.