Do You Know The Rules Of The Races?

The Cheltenham Festival in the UK is upon us again. Horse racing enthusiasts worldwide will be watching one of 28 events over four days. But the real question is, ‘Do you know the rules of the races?’ With this article, you will get to know and understand the types of horse racing as well as the general and specific rules that govern equestrian racing. Overall this guide acts as a crash course to know the rules of the races to get your knowledge up to scratch for all the big races and know what to look out for with the runners in the Grand National and other events.

Grand National

Before we get to the rules, here is a brief synapses of the world’s most prestigious horse race, the Grand National. Many of the Sports Techie community blog followers and readers may not know about this famous event taking place at Aintree Racecourse featuring the National Hunt horse race in Merseyside, England first run back in 1839. The handicap steeplechase course is just over 4 miles and 2.5 furlongs featuring horses leaping over 30 fences circumventing two left-handed laps.

The racetrack packs in 150,000 racing fans while entertaining 600 million viewers in 140 countries watching on TV or via streaming devices. It is said half of UK citizens have a flutter (bet) on Grand National Betting for a total take of £300 million. Data, content and analytics can be the tipping edge needed to win a horse race wager like Grand National 2021 as Grand National 2020 was postponed as most live sporting events are due to Coronavirus.

The Rules

Before the start

  • Jockeys and Horses must be ready to start on time.
  • Horses must be ridden to the start
  • Horses are not to be led on the course to the start without the necessary permissions.
  • Jockeys are not allowed to jump over fences or hurdles before the race starts
  • In the event a rider dismounts, they must be assessed by medical staff and inform the Starter that they remounted.

At the Start

  • No person shall be allowed on the course at the start without the permission of the Starter
  • Jockeys must ensure their girths are checked at the start


Horses may be withdrawn or taken out of a race if:

  • It rebuffs all attempts to get into the stalls
  • It has no rider at the ‘Off’
  • It is unable to start on time
  • It is disobedient

Other Rules That Apply

  • False starts will be signalled with the waving of the starting flag. False starts are deemed to occur if a faulty action of the starting gate or stall hinders a fair start when a horse breaks away before the race has been declared to start. Sometimes the Starter may open the gate or stalls for safety reasons.
  • In order to win a race, the horse-jockey combo must be fastest to cross the finish line (flat racing) or scale any obstacles in addition to being first to cross the line.
  • With the jockeys, you may think they get it easy because they need a helmet and a whip. But actually, there are restrictions on how many times the whip can be used.
  • A jockey is allowed to pull up a horse or declare it no longer fit to continue in a race when it is injured, has an issue affecting its performance, or has burnt out due to fatigue. Should a jockey do this, they cannot join the race any longer and must wait at the area where they pulled up until all other horses have passed by.
  • While racing, the jockey must be aware of the right course to be run and follow all the direction markers. In instances when the horse runs the wrong side, not follow a directional marker or fail to jump a fence or hurdle, the jockey can either pull-up or turn around and make the right turn to continue the race.


  • – Rules Of Sport
  • – British Horseracing Authority
  • – Sports Betting Dime      

Sports Techie, I asked my Aunt Nancy, a former horse jumper based out of Ocala, Florida, about the Grand National and similar races. She said they can be very dangerous because the horse and rider have to jump over the hedge and fence then clear the water. They do this skill 30 times at Grand National. My Aunt said the starting line at Grand National is a rope, not a gate or stall, making the enforcement of rules ever so important.

She also said the movie, National Velvet, filmed in 1944, is the story of a 12-year old girl that dreams of winning Grand National.

The Queen of England is known to attend Cheltenham Festival so that tells you what a big deal it is both in the UK and across the world.

I like that Aintree uses multiple video boards along the grass racetrack so fans in the grandstands can see the racing action on the course’s backside.

Be safe from COVID-19 should horse racing tracks open sometime in the near future by practicing social distancing and hand washing until is is deemed medically safe to be near fellow fans, jockeys, trainers, and punters.

Remember, without race rules, horse racing would be like the wild, wild west, an American era the Grand National predated and outlasted.

See you later sportstechie in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world!

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