What is a racecard?

Whether you are a regular racegoer or a once-a-week, stay-at-home punter, the racecard is arguably your most important source of information. On the racecourse, a racecard, which can be bought inexpensively, or may be included in the price of admission, takes the form of a printed booklet, akin to a theatre programme. In this case, the racecard contains information about the racecourse, the races to be run and the runners in each race.

Racecards are also printed in industry publications, such as the ‘Racing Post’, and in other daily newspapers. In this case, the list of runners and riders is printed, race-by-race, and includes key information, such as the saddlecoth number and name of each horse, its age, the weight it is set to carry, the name of its jockey and trainer and the colours worn by the jockey. A brief synopsis of the recent form of each horse is included, as a series of form figures alongside its name, which indicate its finishing position in its last five or six races. Of course, form figures alone may not provide all the information you need to make an informed betting decision, but may, at least, provide some quick, simple clues to where you should focus any further analysis.

What is a stakes race?

Historically, the term ‘sweepstakes’, or ‘stakes’ for short, was used to describe a horse race in which all, or at least the vast majority, of the prize money comprises entry fees, declaration fees and forfeits paid by owners. Nowadays, this description is somewhat outdated and the term ‘stakes race’ more commonly refers to a horse race classified in the upper echelon of Flat racing or, in other words, a Listed or Group race.

Group One races, which include the five British ‘Classic’ races – the 2,000 Guineas Stakes, 1,000 Guineas Stakes, Oaks Stakes, Derby Stakes and St. Leger Stakes – represent the highest level of Flat racing, followed by Group Two, Group Three and Listed races. These races are intended to attract elite horses and, notwithstanding weight-for-age and weight-for-sex allowances, are contested off level weights. Based on the three-year average of the official ratings of the first four horses home, the status of a Group or Listed race may be upgraded, or downgraded, periodically.For example, in 2020, the Valiant Stakes at Ascot was upgraded to Group Three from Listed status by the European Pattern Committee.

Rather confusingly, in Britain, the term ‘classified stakes race’ is used to describe a race, below Listed level, in which all the runners carry the same weight, regardless of their official handicap rating. Similarly, the term ‘condition stakes race’ is used to describe a race that cannot otherwise be categorised as a handicap, classified stakes, maiden, selling or claiming race.

What is the Winners’ Enclosure?

Strictly speaking, the Winners’ Enclosure is, as the name suggests, the designated area of a racecourse to which winning and placed horses return after passing the winning post to be reunited with their owners, unsaddled and, of course, to receive the adulation of the racing public. The winners’ enclosure may be incorporated into the Parade Ring, around which horses walk before the start of a race, as may the Unsaddling Enclosure, in which unplaced horses are unsaddled and washed down afterwards.

If it is, the Winners’ Enclosure must be sufficiently large to accommodate the first four horses home, plus their connections and, for safety purposes, separated from the rest of the Parade Ring by a double-railed fence. Winning and placed horses remain in the Winners’ Enclosure until the ‘horses away’ signal, at which point they are led back to the stabling area by their grooms, where they, too, are washed down and receive further liquid refreshment.

Of course, part of the celebration of winning a race is the presentation of trophies to the winning owner and, possibly, to the winning jockey and trainer by the race sponsor or a celebrity guest. To this end, regardless of the exact location of the Winners’ Enclosure, a raised presentation rostrum and public address system are often provided, so that the public can both see and hear the prize-giving ceremony.

1 2 3 9