LEXINGTON, Ky. – Technology has become a necessity in most people’s daily lives, and many industries, including sports, have benefited from technology as well.
What You Need To Know
- Measures improve safety for horse and jockey
- Online betting is more convenient than in-person betting
- Less controversy around photo finishes with new sensors
- Improved data can be used to better predict odds
The way athletes train, spectators watch, and referees officiate has all changed because of technology. Horse racing is one sport that has been slow to adapt to using technology but has recently incorporated it more while still adhering to many of its traditions.
A few ways technology in horse racing has changed in recent years include aiding in safety, mobile sports betting, photo finishes, and improving data, according to an article by industry expert Jon Stettin from Past The Wire.
“Technology now plays a hugely important role in horse racing,” Stettin said. “As more innovative ideas enter the sport, we can expect to see horse racing become an even safer sport for both the horse and jockey.”
A horse overheating after a hard-run race has long been a big risk to their health and safety. Using the technology of thermal imaging cameras, vets can accurately and regularly check the temperature of horses after a race and take action to cool them down before it becomes a serious issue, Stettin said.
Medical equipment similar to that used on humans, including MRI scanners, X-rays, and endoscopes can also help diagnose injuries and diseases earlier and faster.
Combining all of its efforts, the British Horseracing Authority has been able to reduce equine fatalities by around 30 percent in the past few years, according to Stettin’s column.
Wagering has always been a part of horse racing, and some people see it as part of the experience of visiting the track.
“For more than a century, betting at races would be done at the track with totes and bookmakers that advertised the odds for each horse on a board. Transactions would be handled in cash, and there’d be a scrum among racegoers as they made sure they got their bets placed on time,” Stettin said. “While this type of betting still takes place, technology has added new ways for people to place wagers on horse races. Mobile betting can be done at the track or from anywhere else, making it much more convenient.”
It also means customers can more easily compare odds, pay with their debit cards, and keep track of all their betting slips, he said.
Many larger brands also offer other products, such as the option to play online casino games, take part in lotteries, and even bet on esports, creating a better experience for customers.
Horse racing is a sport that throws up many close finishes that can make it incredibly difficult to distinguish the winner with the naked eye. Racecourses have used photo finishes since the 1930s to decide whether a race had a definitive victor or a dead heat occurred, Stettin said.
“Newer techniques, such as using 1-dimensional array sensors instead of film cameras at the finish posts can help to remove the delays that are usually caused by photo finishes,” Stettin said. “Traditionally, officials would have to wait for a photo to be developed, meaning the riders and fans would face delays before finding out if they’d won and their bets would payout. This new digital technology gives the answer immediately, helping to improve the spectacle.”
Horse racing is a data-driven sport, with pundits, fans, and trainers using factors such as weather and track conditions, previous form, distance, and shape of the track to predict outcomes.
“Companies like TurfTrax have developed tracking equipment, similar to the fitness trackers used by humans that can detect where a horse is in relation to the track and other runners in real-time,” Stettin said. “It’s also developed a device that’s used to assess the track conditions. Some horses run better on a sloppy track, while others give their best performance when it’s fast. The company’s GoingStick can detect the current status of the track far more accurately than other methods.”