A horse race is a form of competitive racing involving a horse and jockeys. The sport has evolved over the centuries from a primitive contest of speed and endurance into a hugely popular spectator sport involving thousands of horses, a tangle of betting lines, and vast sums of money. But the basic concept has remained the same, and the winner is the horse that crosses the finish line first.
The term horse race describes one of many types of competitive racing, including flat races (where the horses run on a flat track) and jump races (where the horses must leap over obstacles). The competition is usually supervised by a steward who enforces the rules of the sport. The steward may disqualify or impose other penalties for violations of the rules.
Most horse races are run on a specific track with a starting gate and stalls. Before the start of a race, the stalls and gates are closed. A starter may allow a horse to begin the race with a flag in special cases where he or she deems it appropriate.
If a horse wins the race, it receives prize money and is declared the winner. If a horse is in a dead heat with another horse, it splits the prize money according to the terms of the dead heat rule. If a horse is injured during the race, it is treated by veterinary staff and may be retired from racing.
There are numerous rules that must be followed by both the participants and the stewards. These rules cover issues such as training, health and safety, and equipment. Depending on the country in which a horse race is held, the rules may differ slightly.
A horse must have a racing license and be vetted before it can compete in a horse race. It must also have been trained to be ridden by a professional jockey.
The veterinary examination of a horse prior to racing includes tests for a variety of illnesses and injuries. Some of these are minor, such as an ear infection, while others, like laminitis, can be deadly. A veterinary examination also includes a veterinary exam of the heart and lungs.
A horse’s history of performance in previous races is recorded on its racing form. This is usually a series of numbers and letters beside the horse’s name that shows its past finishing positions, the race distance it has previously completed, and some other details such as its sex, gender, and trainer. The form also provides a rating system that assigns a number to each horse based on its ability. The higher the rating, the better its chances of winning a race. This information is also useful when placing a bet on a horse. In addition to the rating system, the form will list the names of the horse’s owners and their colours registered with Horse Racing Ireland. The sex of the horse is also indicated as C=Colt, F=Filly or M=Male.