Posted: Wed 29th May 2024

How Horse Racing Has Evolved Over the Past Decade in the UK

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

Horse racing is one of the oldest sports in the world. Evidence suggests that people have been racing horses since the earliest Mesopotamian civilizations. It is truly impressive that it the sport has survived, and remains one of the most popular betting sports in the world.

As is the case with football, the success of horse racing can be traced to Victorian England. It was them who rediscovered the sport, codified the rules, and put in place protections for the athletes, both human and equestrian. 

Of course, the sport has changed significantly over the past century. Indeed, it has changed significantly over the past decade. In this article, we would like to explore the changes that horse racing has undergone recently, in the United Kingdom. 

New Sports Betting Options

The most obvious and significant change comes in the betting world. Online sportsbooks may have been around since the 1990s. However, it is only recently that they’ve become a major success, and have dwarfed the popularity of land-based bookies. Of course, online sportsbooks are a lot different than their land-based counterparts, which significantly changes the way people wager. 

One of the big reasons for the success of online sportsbooks is the inclusion of welcome bonuses. For those who don’t know, betting welcome offers are benefits a punter gets when signing up to a website for the first time. They could include things like a match deposit, free bets, and other features that would help both newbies and experienced gamblers start wagering online. 

Another pretty big benefit of online sportsbooks is the in-play betting feature. Otherwise known as live betting, the feature allows punters to wager as an event is going on. So, as you are watching the races, you can place prop bets or even to win bets. Live betting is a fun pastime, but it does come with some disadvantages. For example, punters need to make split second decisions, which could often be hasty and not thoroughly thought through. 

Data-Driven Thinking

Data has never played a huge part in horse racing. However, that has changed in the past ten years, and it will like continue to change in the next ten years. It seems fans, punters, and event organizers are now realizing the importance of data when planning a racing event. With modern technology being what it is, data collection is certainly going to improve.

Indeed, modern technology can help us gather data on everything. We can analyze data on the effectiveness of a 20 mph speed limit, so long as the data is transparent. In much the same way, we can analyze data pointing to future weather conditions, track conditions, horse conditions, and jockey conditions. All of that data can then be analyzed to make predictions about a race.

Indeed, data is the primary tool that odd makers use to create predictions and set odds for future tournaments. That goes not just for horse racing, but for the odds makers responsible for any sport, including football, basketball, and cricket. With the tech we have today, data collection is much easier, and a lot simpler than it has been at any point in the past. 

Safety

Protecting the jockey and the horse should be any event’s number one priority. Without the equestrian athletes, the sport would be nowhere near as popular as it is, and without the jockey to guide the horse, the animal would not co-operate in the first place. That is why a lot of the new innovations in horse racing revolve around protecting both horse and jockey. 

One of the big dangers when horse racing is over-heating. If a horse gets to heated, the risk of the animal falling over and causing damage to itself, and its rider is much greater. In the past, noticing a horse is overheated was nearly impossible. Today, however, we have thermal-image cameras, manned by vets who can tell whether a horse is in danger of toppling over really quick.

Another major change is that race tracks have done their best to ensure the hurdles are noticeable by both rider and horse. Not just that, but the hurdles are noticeable from a long distance, giving the two athletes ample time to prepare for a jump, and greatly reducing the number of falls. 

On top of all of this, a lot of horse racing events have simply put forth new regulations and rules that ensure the horses’ safety. For example, many have limited or even banned the use of striking in order to make the horse go faster. In fact, jockeys have been severely punished for hitting their horses during noteworthy races. 

Photo Finishers 

It can be quite difficult to tell which horse won the race sometimes. Close finishers are not as uncommon as one might think, and often times giving the win to one set of athletes over the other has caused some major controversy. However, with the advent of photo finishers, that has changed drastically. But, what are photo finishers? 

Photographic cameras are placed at the end of the track, and programmed to take a picture when the horses cross the finish line. The camera takes several pictures the moment a horse gets near the finish line, and all that is left then is for the officials to analyze the images and determine which horse actually broke the finish line first. 

Photo finishers are an excellent new invention, which is why some of the most popular horse racing events are making use of them. We are talking about events like Cheltenham, the Golden Ascot, and the Grand National, all of which are noteworthy for using photo finishers during the big races. 

Last Words

Horse racing has changed significantly in the past ten years. It is to be expected, after all the sport has roots from the Ancient World. However, as technology improves and sensibilities change, horse racing will continue to change as well. We are excited to see what the future for horse racing holds. 

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