The Beginners Guide To Racing

The Runners Number. Horse’s entered in a race are declared a long time in advance of the race date but the final declarations for the race at the point where the race numbers are allocated will be  approximately 24 hours before the actual race. Runners may well be withdrawn from the race due to the ground conditions other commitments or a multitude of other reasons but as a rule when the final runners are declared the race numbers are allocated either alphabetically or in handicap races by the weight carried with number 1 being the horse carrying the most weight with the race number being displayed on the cloth under the saddle. If however a runner is withdrawn from the race after a race number has been allocated the number will not be used as it cannot be reallocated.

Race Colours. These are not chosen at random but are the colours of the racehorses owner and if he or she has more than one runner in the race the runners will have different colour caps.

Race Types. There are several types of race which basically fall into two categories which are handicap or non handicap races. A non handicap race is where the runners carry more or less the same weight as there rivals subject to the race conditions and therefore in theory it should be easier to select the winner of the race as when a faster horse is carrying the same weight as its inferior rivals it should more often than not win the race and will be considered the favourite to do so but the price will therefore be shorter and be less value. On the other hand a handicap race is one where each runner carries a different weight according to his or her ability therefore if horse A were to beat horse B and they raced against each the following month horse A would usually be forced to carry a higher weight in there next race in an attempt to create a level playing field.

Weight carried. The weight a horse is set to carry includes the jockey the saddle and racing cloth etc and is balanced by adding extra weight under the saddle should a jockey be overweight this will be declared and if the horse in a handicap race is not rated up to the standard or conditions of the race it will declared as running out of the handicap and in both the above circumstances will be deemed to be running at a disadvantage.

At the end of a race you will notice that a jockey has to take his saddle etc into the weighing room to get weighed in which is to ensure that he is still carrying the same amount of weight as when he started the race.

Headgear. A horse may well wear Blinkers or similar accessories which are an effort to improve certain aspects of his running sometimes they work sometimes they do not there is no definitive answer as to whether they are a good thing or not. But as a rule the main types are Blinkers Visors Hoods Cheek pieces or Tongue Straps or a combination of the aforementioned which must be declared if worn as they may effect the performance of the horse on the day.

The Going. This is the description of the underfoot conditions on the day and the ground could be listed as being anywhere from Firm (which is rare in jumps racing) to Heavy and will effect the way the majority of the runners will perform on the day.  At most racecourses the going is also expressed as a figure ie 5.6 which is meant to clarify the situation but unfortunately these figures vary between courses so do not blindly rely on them as a reference point.

Obstacles. These are usually either Hurdles which are smaller fence like obstacles which can be knocked over if hit but can still be responsible for bringing a horse down or they are Fences which are larger hedge type obstacles used in Chase races which are very unforgiving .

Jockeys. The jockey is usually retained by each yard the horse is trained in but any jockey can ride any horse within reason with the owners permission and obviously some jockeys are better than others. Amateur jockeys that are still learning there trade are given a weight allowance which is allocated to the horse he or she is riding to make up for there inexperience and a good amateur jockey is worth his or her weight in gold.

Trainers. Some trainers are better than others but most trainers have a type of runner or race that they do better in and also a time of year that the yard they work in comes good and as such is always worth looking into. Obviously the better the trainer the better the horses he or she is given to train therefore not all yards are equal and it can be worth following the smaller yards for better value.