Horse Racing Strategies

Strategy is a term of war. It is appropriate to use it in horse racing because this sport has roots in the ancient use of these noble and courageous animals in the battle field. Strategy in military terms means the leverage of one’s own strengths, and the exposure of the weaknesses of the enemy, and these are key ingredients for top performance in horse racing.

Strategy begins well before an event starts in horse racing. Owners, advised by trainers, have to choose events in which they would like to invest. It is not easy for people to be objective in this respect, and it is not uncommon to make horses race against superior competition. Punters also tend to overlook this aspect, when a form sheet shows a past winner from lesser event in optimistic light, even when it is up against a higher class of horse.

The type of race track is a key determinant of horse racing strategy. There are racecourses which are built for stamina. Events are normally run over a length of about a mile and a half. The bends can be grueling, and some stretches may be distinctly inclined to test staying power and raw strength. The exact moment at which a jockey decides to make a break for the final straight can make all the difference between a win, a place, and failure. Other tracks are simply built for speed, with long straights, distances just around a mile, and gentle turns. The kind of training a thoroughbred needs in order to make a good showing at such a track is obviously different from that required for a long and difficult course.

The type of surface and weather conditions can affect or help the best thoroughbreds: some champions are affected by strong head winds, especially if they do not get a rail position early on. Others are less affected by soggy conditions underfoot. Inclement weather, or sudden outbursts, can upset the best laid strategies in horse racing, unless a jockey is able to adapt quickly to changing conditions of competition. Therefore, many believe that interaction between horse and rider matters more than any other factor in horse racing.