It’s Time for Change in Horseracing

It's Time for Change in Horseracing

Many of the world’s most famous horse races have remained unchanged for centuries, bar minor changes to race distances and the size of the purse shared by the winners. However, as the popularity of betting on other sports increases thanks to the rapid growth of internet-based sports betting, racing is under more pressure than ever to unearth fresh fans and maintain its relevance in a sport saturated world.

It’s Time for Racing Championships

Runners take the final bend during Division One of The EBF Maiden Stakes Race run at Lingfield Park Racecourse on July 13, 2005 in Lingfield, England. (Photo by Julian Herbert/Getty Images)With the exception of a series of ‘Triple Crown’ contests in various countries where racing is popular, there is very little tying together the various Group One flat races held every season. This deprives thoroughbred racing of having real rivalries develop between great racehorses, and prevents racing fans from enjoying a sense of continuity from one major race to the next.

One way to remedy this situation would be to set up a Group 1 horseracing championship for the top rated thoroughbreds in flat racing. Points could be allocated for wins in various Group 1 races, with extra points awarded for wins in the Classics, which would become the equivalent of racing’s ‘Majors’.

A Champion 3 year old racehorse would be crowned in each participating region at the conclusion of the season, and these horses could next compete at the annual Breeders Cup World Championships in the United States, which would then be able to justify its claim to being the world championship of thoroughbred racing.

New Focus on Safety

Frankie Figg ridden by Jamie Moore falls at Becher's Brook during The John Smiths Topham Steeple Chase on day two of the John Smith's Grand National meeting at Aintree on April 3, 2009 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)Hundreds of thousands of potential racing fans have been put off horseracing by a long history of disregard for animal rights in the sport, not to mention the high fatality and accident rate amongst jockeys. National hunt racing in particular has come under fire for failing to cater to the safety needs of both racehorses and jockeys.

One way to draw new fans to the sport would be to conduct a comprehensive review of safety in horseracing, with the intention of eliminating racehorse fatalities. This would involve comprehensive analysis of the obstacles used in jumps racing with a view to moderating some of the more dangerous obstacles in the sport.

The FIA, Formula One’s governing body, has had to review racecourse layouts countless times over the years in order to address demands for improved safety, and there is no reason why horseracing should not apply the same safety standards that have been applied in Formula One and a variety of other potentially dangerous sports formats.

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