Horse races are a popular sport where bettors wager money on horses to win a race. Behind the romanticized facade of Thoroughbred horse racing, however, lies a world of injuries, drug abuse, gruesome breakdowns, and slaughter. In recent years, technological advances have transformed racetracks, enabling trainers to monitor a horse’s physical state and performance through thermal imaging cameras, MRI scanners, and 3D printing, while also making it possible for veterinarians to rapidly diagnose and treat horses with minor or serious conditions. While horse racing has embraced many of these advances, it is still a deeply inequitable industry.
The sport’s most controversial topic is race-day drugs, and the British Horseracing Authority has recently taken steps to crack down on their use by replacing a triumvirate of committees with a board of experts. But the use of equine medication is far from new, and some critics argue that even with better monitoring and oversight, it will be difficult to ban the most controversial substances used for competitive purposes.
Before the development of standardized rules and forms, horse racing was an informal affair that depended on agreements between owners to race each other’s horses. Owners typically provided the purse, a stake that was bet against, and disqualified horses forfeited half the purse. These agreements were recorded by independent parties, known as keepers of the match book, at various racetracks. One of the earliest match books was published in 1729 by John Cheny at Newmarket, England.
Today, horse racing is one of the most popular sports in the world with a global audience of more than 1 billion people. It is a multi-billion dollar business with a wide range of industries supporting it, including breeding, training, and gambling. In addition to the financial aspects of the sport, racedays are full of spectacle and entertainment.
In addition to the traditional forms of horse races, there are a variety of other kinds of competitions, such as steeplechases and hurdle races. Each of these has specific requirements, and the governing bodies will assign a weight that must be carried by each horse. The purpose of these handicaps is to level the playing field by giving each competitor an equal chance of winning.
When journalists cover elections and focus on who’s winning or losing — a practice that’s called horse race reporting — voters, candidates, and the news media suffer, according to a growing body of research. A series of studies, published in peer-reviewed journals, has found that when journalists focus on who’s ahead or behind during close races and in the weeks leading up to Election Day, they’re more likely to frame elections as a competitive game instead of focusing on policy issues.