Is horse racing about to become more interactive?

When you watch a major horse racing event, things can get pretty exciting, and even more so if you’ve got a bet on the outcome. With online betting exchanges like Betfair, it’s so simple to find out the odds before a race starts, and if you’ve taken a value bet early, you can always decide to lay back the bet if the odds come in nearer to race day, thus making a profit even before the race has started.

Sometimes, though, when you’re watching the horse racing, even with there being so many cameras positioned around the track and travelling alongside the race, you can sometimes find it hard to keep track of your horse and rider, and get the impression that you’re just viewing a sea of riders. This makes it harder to feel a part of what’s going on.

However, all that may soon change if jockey cam developers get their way. In Nascar racing, the change has already taken place, with fans being able to pay to login for a cockpit camera view of an event. Watching the race with a driver’s eye view, it’s far easier to decide whether to alter your Betfair punts as the race is happening. The same technology is possible for jockey helmets. There’s a super-light 4oz camera that has been developed so that spectators could have a jockey’s eye view of the race.

But although the technology exists, and has been trialled in different races, jockey cams are not yet used on a regular basis. Before that happens there are some admin and safety issues to be ironed out. Although racing associations like the Jockeys’ Guild and the New York Racing Association have shown positive interest in the idea, they are yet to endorse the use of jockey cams.

One of the potential issues is whether all jockeys would be obliged to wear jockey cams. Would the ever so slight weight difference disadvantage the riders who wore them? On the other hand, the unique perspective that jockey cams give could encourage greater numbers of people to place horse racing bets – all of which would bolster the industry as a whole.

Jockey cam proponents are campaigning for the cameras to be introduced in order for the world of horse racing to increase the number of younger horse racing fans. If not, there’s a concern that horse racing will lose out to other sports where the up close and personal viewing action makes a sport that much more exciting to watch.


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