As with almost everything in the modern world, horse racing has incorporated technology to improve both the spectacle and the user experience. During live events there are number of devices and software systems that help jockeys and horses perform better, which makes them more enjoyable to watch. The camera system used to determine winners of a photo finish, is a good example of this. Fans are well covered too, with hundreds of thousands of apps that customers can download like oddschecker whose horse racing specialists offer expert tips and analysis or Horse Racing Manager, a simulation game which gives fans the chance to breed, train and race horses virtually. Here is some of the best technology used in the sport today.
Used in both horse racing and track athletics, photo finish technology is one of the oldest forms of technology used in the sport. It first appeared in the 1930s, when strip cameras were used to determine winners of the tightest races. These were very successful and helped officials make tight calls, but they weren’t good enough for the closest of calls, which lead to a lot of dead-heat finishes. As camera technology has improved, it has been incorporated in horse racing with ever-improving results, dead-heat finishes are now much less common, and decisions can be made in seconds or minutes. Nowadays two digital cameras are situated high in the stands in a purpose-built booth, with a mirror strip attached to the winning post. The pictures produced are of the highest quality, with vertical lines added to aid the judges in choosing the winner.
When registering thoroughbred horses to compete in international competitions, owners are now required to have a microchip fitted into their horse. Like smart watches for humans, microchips contain vital information about the horse such as its date of birth, weight, pedigree, race history and health records, information that officials can receive less than a second after scanning them. These chips have greatly helped in racing, making it quicker to identify horses for registration purposes. Additionally, the microchips have saved countless horse lives with the health information contained on them helping vets diagnose problems much quicker. For example, they can display the horses body temperature after races which is vital with so many suffering from overheating that has led to euthanisation in the past.
Companies like TurfTrax have recently emerged as vitally important contributors to the sport, with technology that provides live data regarding the conditions of horse racing surfaces. Whether the track is hard, soft, wet or dry is extremely important for jockeys and stable teams as it can help them decide on race strategies, horseshoe designs and jockey selection. They also recently launched WeatherTrax, software that will provide live weather data to competitors, media and fans at home.
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