Going Down

Saddle Cloth

As the horses start going down to the start of the race the commentator will describe the colours being worn by each jockey in the race to help aid identification. Usually the runners have to pass in front of the stands, giving racegoers a chance to see them moving before the race, however when the ground is soft this may not happen to preserve the track. Before major races the horses will actually parade, in racecard order, in front of the stands.

Races are of varying length so each race will start at a different point of the course. The commentator will usually say where the start is in relation to the stands also the racecard should have a diagram at the head of each race showing where the start is.

At The Post

When at the start the horses equipment is adjusted to ensure saddles are not loose and none of the straps are damaged.

At flat races horses generally start from starting stalls so in theory they all start the race in a straight line, in reality some horses are more quickly away than others. Indeed in sprint races a race can be won or lost at the start. For jump racing, where the races are over longer distances, races are started by the horses lining up in front of a tape stretched across the track. This can result in the horses being spread out from the outset, the theory being that with the longer race a slowly away horse can make up lost ground.  

For jump races the horses circle in a holding area  just off the course itself.  The holding area will have a small fence or hurdle which the horses inspect. (It’s interesting to note that in some countries horses actually jump a couple of test jumps to warm them up)

Going Behind

In the case of a flat race the loading of the stalls starts. Horses are led into the stalls by the stalls handlers, a team of brave men (and women) who often risk physical injury loading the horses. They are also quickly on the scene if a horse starts getting fractious in the stalls. Horses in flat races race from a predetermined draw position, decided at random when the final line up is declared. At some courses having the 'correct' draw can be a distinct advantage (see individual course details).


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