Racecourse hurdles could become yellow after new research
THE colour of markers on hurdles and fences at racecourses like Cheltenham could change because of the way horses see colour.
Research by the University of Exeter found they may jump better over white and yellow obstacles, instead of the orange which is used on hurdle frames, fence take-off boards and guard-rails.
The study on equine vision, commissioned by the British Horseracing Authority and Racing Foundation in 2017, involved noting the behavioural responses of horses to more prominent colours in a controlled environment.
It was carried out in partnership with Adlestrop trainer Richard Phillips and 11 racecourses, where the visibility of orange markers and other potential colours were tested.
As a result, a phased trial at training grounds will begin using fluorescent yellow for all hurdles and guard-rails and fluorescent white for take-off boards at fences.
The colours have been determined to maximise visibility under a wide range of conditions for both humans and horses.
If the project is successful, it could be rolled out in the hope it will continue to reduce the number of accidents.
The faller rate in British racing has reduced by 29 per cent since 2004, as a result of ongoing investment in racecourse safety plus constant enhancements in racehorse care and training standards.
The opportunity for the study was identified by the partnership between the BHA and RSPCA, who work together on an ongoing basis to develop new ways to make hurdle and fence design safer.
David Sykes, Director of Equine Health and Welfare for the BHA, said: “This fine and important project is an example of how British racing uses advanced scientific and veterinary research to constantly improve racehorse welfare, not only for thoroughbreds in Britain but across other nations and equine disciplines.
“As with the ongoing phased introduction of our padded hurdles - which have proven to reduce faller and injury rates - we will ensure to take our time with this project, make sure there are no unintended consequences and that the evidence of the ongoing trials continue to support the case for change.”