Aerodynamic drafting may be key to race success, scientists say

by | 03.11.2012 | 8:19am
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Researchers at the Structure and Motion Laboratory at Britain's Royal Veterinary College have released results of a study showing horses and riders use aerodynamic drafting to their advantage in races, according to an AFP report in The Malaysian Insider.

Jockeys have long known about drafting, also called “covering up,” in horseracing, but this is the first time its importance has been pinpointed and data actually measured. Researchers had access to more than 4,500 races at 10 British racecourses from 2005 to 2007, using data garnered by British company TurfTrax Racing, which places a radio-frequency chip in the horse's saddle, enabling the horse's position to be triangulated at any point in a race.

“When measured over the entire race, the average speed of a horse goes up the more time it spends tucked in behind other horses,” said Andrew Spence of the Structure and Motion Laboratory.

“If you convert that difference in speed into how the horse finishes, it can amount to a gain of three to four places. You don't get any money unless you finish within the first five, so basically it's a big deal.”

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