A horse race is a form of sporting competition in which horses compete on a racing track. The races are conducted under rules governing the conduct of horses and their owners and riders. The race may be held on a flat track, in a jumping arena or over hurdles.
Before the start of a race, each horse is positioned in stalls or behind starting gates. During the racing, jockeys help guide their horses on the course and over any hurdles or fences that may be present.
In addition to racing, the sport also features a number of wagering opportunities and entertainment events for the public. For example, there are race-day programs at major racing venues in the United States and Canada.
The average field size for both flat and jumps racing in Britain was 8.46 in 2022. This figure is at its lowest since records began in 1995.
Increasingly, the majority of races are run with a smaller number of horses due to the rise in purses and breeding fees. These changes have also led to fewer races with horses over age four, which was once considered a peak age for a racehorse.
These changes have also been accompanied by an increase in the use of performance-enhancing drugs. The result has been an industry riven with allegations of animal cruelty.
A recent video of a horse balking at the start of a race in California has sparked a national debate about animal cruelty in the horse racing industry. The video, posted by PETA in November of 2011, has raised questions about the sport’s ethics and the treatment of racehorses.
In the video, Mongolian Groom, a six-year-old horse owned by Ganbaatar Dagvadorj, a Mongolian tycoon who made his fortune in post-Communist supermarkets, appears to have balked at the starting gate. Bettors are often compelled to examine the coats of horses in the walking ring before races to judge their readiness for the running.
If a horse’s coat is bright and rippling, with just the right amount of sweat and muscled excitement, it’s believed to be ready for the race. If a horse’s coat is darker, it’s likely that the animal is fearful of starting and is unable to settle into stride.
The term is also used to describe a horse that has been under pressure during the early stages of a race to prompt or set the pace and then tires significantly. The horse will have a hard time holding off rivals and must be kept moving in order to stay competitive.
Occasionally, a horse will be outrun by more than 25 lengths during the entire race and still finish. This is known as an outrun, and it usually occurs during the first or second mile of the race.
This is an alternative to FAILED TO MENACE, which describes a horse that has a noticeable effort to get untracked during the race and does not respond to the jockey’s attempts to do so.