What does unseated rider mean?

Designated by the letter ‘U’ in the form figures on a typical racecard, ‘unseated rider’ indicates that a horse officially failed to finish a race, by virtue of the fact that, for one reason or another, it parted company with its jockey. However, unlike ‘fell’, which is designated by the letter ‘F’ in the form figures, the horse in question did not lose its footing and may, indeed, have continued to run ‘loose’ for the remainder of the race.

Clearly, unseated rider is a more occurrence in National Hunt racing, where obstacles are involved, than in Flat racing, but is by no means unknown under the latter code. Jumping errors at hurdles or fences are the most come cause of jockeys ending up on the ground, but there are several other explanations. Even on the Flat, tack malfunctions, such as a snapped girth or a slipped saddle, can cause a jockey to lose his or her balance, as can horse stumbling, perhaps as a result of stepping on a patch of ‘false’ ground, typically caused by natural waterlogging or overwatering of the course.

Of course, racehorses are living, breathing, herd animals and it is not unknown for them to unexpectedly jink, swerve or veer one way or another, particuarly when in front on their own, or inexperienced. Thus, unseated rider may not, necessarily, be the direct result of a jumping mistake, so it is always wise to delve a little further into the form, if possible.