Technology has vastly improved every aspect of our lives and it has also made a notable difference to sport. Whether it’s the introduction of VAR or the ability to monitor every single aspect of an athlete’s performance, there can be little doubt that technological advances have significantly improved our enjoyment of elite sporting events. Although horse racing is generally regarded as one of the oldest and most traditional sports in the world, technology has still managed to play a significant role in improving both the safety and enjoyment of this historic pastime.
Mobile Betting / Off-Track Betting
Although is impossible to recreate the thrill of standing trackside at top-class events such as the Kentucky Derby and Royal Ascot, advances in technology do allow punters to wager on any race in the world from a laptop or smartphone device. The introduction of betting apps also enables horse racing fans to stream races and follow the progress of their chosen runner from the comfort of their home. Placing bets is now incredibly straightforward and there is now very little need to stand in a queue and ensure that you have enough cash to place your bets ahead of the next race. It’s also significantly easier to compare odds and this enables punters to ensure that they are getting the best possible value when it comes to backing a much-fancied favourite.
Photo Finishes / Faster Results
Close finishes are part and parcel of horse racing and it can be particularly difficult to separate a pair of fast-finishing thoroughbreds. Although photo finishes have been in use since the 1880s, the introduction of 1-dimensional array sensors has enabled quicker results, thus allowing punters to collect their winnings within minutes of a race’s conclusion. Given that many horse racing bettors are already likely to be looking ahead to the following race, it is vitally important that these close finishes are resolved quickly and efficiently. It also allows for a greater level of accuracy and reduces the number of disputes and discussion surrounding the identity of the winning horse.
Jockey Performance / Horse Performance
Young and inexperienced jockeys are always looking for ways to improve their performance and tracking technology now allows data to be collected throughout the course of a race. As a result, jockeys can re-watch their performances and analyse the areas in which they can increase efficiency. It also enables trainers to plan create a plan for their chosen jockey based on the strengths and weaknesses of each performer. The increased availability of data collection can also be used to determine how a horse copes with different track conditions. This enables trainers to make informed and accurate decisions about the suitability of a racecourse several days in advance.
Horse and Rider Safety
Horse racing is a fast-paced, high-octane sport and as a result, injuries to both horses and jockey are a fairly common occurrence. Although it is virtually impossible to completely eliminate accidents, technology has substantially improved the safety of both horse and rider. Thermal imaging cameras allow trainers and stable staff to regularly conduct post-race checks on the temperature of each horse. Ahead of the 2019 Grand National, competitors were fitted with activity trackers which was designed to improve horse welfare and alongside the introduction of pre-race examinations, this has greatly reduced the chances of a horse suffering a fatal mid-race injury.
MRI scanners have also resulted in earlier diagnoses of equine diseases as well as previously undetected injuries. It is estimated that recent developments in technology has resulted in a 30% reduction in equine fatalities in the last five years.