Race­course hur­dles could be­come yel­low af­ter new re­search

Gloucestershire Echo - - SPORTING INDEX -

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.”

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