Like most sports, horse racing has been quick to embrace technology to help it become more appealing to its audience and to ensure race meetings have the resources they need to facilitate their fixtures.
Here is a look at some of the newest technology innovations being used in horse racing across the world.
If you have ever wondered what it is like to be a jockey and participate in a horse race, virtual reality (VR) headsets now allow you to experience that thrill. Some racecourses have set up VR stages at their meetings to invite racegoers to try out their headsets throughout the day.
This experience has been a great way of promoting horse racing to those who wouldn’t normally watch the sport. Some enjoy the experience so much that they go away and explore other ways of getting involved in horse racing, such as becoming an owner. This can be done by buying racehorse shares through syndicates such as RaceShare. They offer shares in horses for as little as £33, and as part of your package, you get the chance to visit your horse at their stable and see it run at the racecourse.
VR headsets are also being used by jockeys as they prepare for big races. They can simulate a particular racecourse and also the conditions the jockey can expect to be faced with in their race.
With hundreds of horses arriving at a racecourse each day, identifying them on arrival and checking them into their stable before the race is vital. To help with this process, each horse has a small chip in their neck that can be scanned to bring up their passport. This includes details of their name, age and breeding.
As per the rules set out by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), It is the responsibility of the owner and trainer to ensure that their horse has an identification chip before they arrive at a racecourse. Without this, they are not able to be checked in or participate in a race.
Before the identification chip was established, there were instances where horses ran in the wrong race by mistake due to misidentification. The use of the chip has helped reduce that number considerably.
Broadcasters in horse racing are always looking at new ways they can showcase the sport, and one of the newest innovations is the JockeyCam. A small camera is attached to a jockey’s helmet before a race, and they can transmit live pictures from a great vantage point during the contest.
These are often used in big races like the Grand National at Aintree. They were attached to several jockeys in 2023 when Corach Rambler came out on top in the world’s most famous steeplechase. These cameras showed exactly what it was like for the jockeys to ride in a 40-runner contest over the biggest fences in the sport.
In this video, JockeyCam enables viewers to take the ride of a lifetime with Frankie Dettori:
As well as for broadcast purposes, the jockey cams can also be used by the stewards in the sport to determine if a jockey has caused an interference with another horse. They will watch the race from the lens of the jockey in question before making their decision on the official result.
With more technology arriving in sport, it will be interesting to see how horse racing continues to adapt and evolve over the next few years.