The rapidly modernising world of horse racing

Posted on March 10, 2021

When you think of horse racing, what comes to mind? Is it some sort of fancy event where incredibly posh people go to get ridiculously drunk and watch riders on horses named something like Papa’s Delicate Condition? Or is it something a lot more modern? Technology has impacted every sector of the sports and sports betting industry and horse racing is no exception.

In fact, in 2021 horse racing is almost entirely dependant on modern technology. In 2019, Belinda Stronach the chairman of ownership group 1/ST published an open letter on the future of horse racing:

“The sport of horse racing is the last great sporting legacy platform to be modernized. If we expect our sport to grow for future generations, we must raise our standards.”

Health and technology

Now, at horse racing events in 2021 we have thermal imaging cameras to regularly check the temperature of horses to ensure that they do not overheat in the races. We use medical technology like MRI scanners, X-rays, and endoscopes on horses to diagnose injuries and diseases earlier and faster. In the past few years horse fatalities have reduced by around 30%.

Horse racing data

It may seem antiquated now, but the idea of a photo finish was also once a modern idea. They have been in use since the 1930s but now they have been brought into the 21st century. Tech like 1-dimensional array sensors allows for immediate results to be displayed without waiting for a photo to be analysed.

This feeds into the ever-growing world of sports data. Now that we have online sports betting and improved odds, information like weather and track conditions, previous form, distance, and shape of the track can be used to influence decisions bout the bets that you place.

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Virtual horse racing

Some people claim that Virtual horse racing is better for punters than real horse racing and for those that want a quick hit of sports racing and don’t have the time to wait for a real event, it can be. Virtual racing is a simulation of real-life horse racing contested by digital racehorses and jockeys on digital racecourses. This allows punters to bet on the horses before the race and watch the simulation.

The race is decided by a computer algorithm that calculates the finishing order in a race. The only factor that influences the outcome of the event is the odds placed on each horse. Horses with lower odds are more likely to win, while long odds horses are less likely to win.

The future of horse betting

Betting on horse races is one of the oldest forms of betting in the world and it has survived this far. It is likely that if we were to travel several hundred years into the future we would see people still placing bets on races. It is still an antiquated event but with the new technology that is being implemented every year, like blockchain-based horse racing, it will survive way into the future. It is likely that the horse racing and betting of tomorrow will look a little different, but the core of the event will remain the same.

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Andrew Boggs

Andrew is a Northern Ireland based journalist with a background in esports and VR reporting. He grew up in County Down, Northern Ireland, and graduated from Ulster University with a Masters's degree in Journalism.

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