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Tuesday , 17 October 2017
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Outriders required for British racing

I recently queried why so many horses were withdrawn for refusing to enter the starting stalls. It rarely happens in America because their stalls are wider and more inviting. Now here’s another aspect in which America leads the way: outriders. American tracks have two outriders on hand to deal with horses getting loose at the start. If a horse breaks through the front of the stalls, the outriders will quickly round it up.

Outriders help reduce dangers

Two cases occurred this week where outriders would have saved the day. Indeed, in one instance they’d have saved a horse’s life.

The first was at Nottingham on Sunday. Long shot Book Of Dust twice threw his jockey and galloped off, delaying the start by 10 minutes. That wouldn’t have happened had there been an outrider on hand.

Just Marion stumbled leaving the stalls at Brighton on Monday, unseating her rider before he’d had chance to remove the blindfold used for stalls entry. She then ran loose around the course unable to see. After she’d crashed through a rail, two ambulance staff eventually caught her. Sadly, the mare suffered several fractures. She was put down the next day.

Those occurrences would not have happened had an outrider been present. Time after time, horses break through the stalls or get rid of their rider in some way, gallop off into the distance and cause delays. That’s particularly true of wide-open courses such as Newmarket. It wouldn’t happen with outriders at the start. Furthermore, it would provide opportunities for former jockeys and former racehorses. The jockey would know what to do. The horse would be fast enough to do the job.

No doubt the people who run Britain’s racecourses will find excuses for not having them. However, if it works in America, why wouldn’t it work here? The presence of outriders would help reduce delays and, more importantly, aid horse welfare.

 

 

About Chris Pitt

Chris Pitt is a racing historian and freelance journalist. He has written three books including 'A Long Time Gone', chronicling Britain's lost racecourses, and 'Go Down to the Beaten', stories of jockeys who didn't win the Grand National. He founded the Midlands Racing Club and was formerly racing correspondent for BBC Radio WM.

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