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AI’s Impact on Horse Racing

Lakeside Stables

Horse racing is one of the oldest sports in the world and continues to attract millions of fans from across the globe. Classic races such as the Kentucky Derby, Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, and Dubai World Cup, are consistently sold out, as racing fans gather to experience the atmosphere and excitement of race day.

Modern horse racing as we now know it, was first established in England in the 18th century. In all that time the sport has largely remained unchanged, but the recent adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) is threatening to revolutionise the sport.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a computer science concerned with building smart machines that are capable of performing tasks that usually require human intelligence. Artificial intelligence allows computers to model, and sometimes improve on the competences of the human mind.

This machine learning technology with the ability to make decisions of its own, is now a part of our everyday lives. From self-driving cars to tools like ChatGPT, the technology is gaining momentum in multiple industries and applications, including horse racing.

AI and Horse Racing

The power of AI means it is capable of processing huge amounts of data such as the results of the last 50 years of horse racing. That means analysing horse age, odds, weight, trainer, breeding, weather conditions, jockey, track conditions, and so much more. But how exactly is that information being used?

Analysis

One of the most common applications of AI is in the analysis of a horses racing and training statistics. The trainer can use AI to drill down into the data to detect patterns in a horse’s performance and then alter training regimes to rectify any issues. The data can also be used to examine which horse is best suited to which track, and determine when and where each horse should run to ensure they perform at their maximum. Yet, AI is not only being used to analyse data before the race; it is also being utilized to make real-time choices during the race.

Betting

If trainers can use AI to help predict their horse’s performance in races, then it stands to reason that it can and will be used for horse racing betting. Sportsbooks can use analysis of the vast amounts of data available to improve their odds and reduce their potential losses. However, racing fans can also make the most of this exciting technology to help them analyse races and work out which horse has the best chance of winning. Services such as AI race predictors can give punters up to the minute data and analysis, and provide details on the best value bets in each race.

Health and Safety

Many trainers use sensors to track their horse’s performance in training as well as races. Gathering data on heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, and more, allows them to detect potential health problems in horses and prevent injuries or far worse. Training regimes can be altered to avoid overtraining and the chances of a jockey injuring themselves are drastically reduced too.

Horse Trading

Buying and selling race horses can be an expensive gamble. Just because a horse is sired by a famous race winner does not guarantee it success on the track. One thing it does usually guarantee however, is a large price when it comes to auction. With little information to go on other than DNA, Vet report, and a trainer’s eye, picking the winners of the future is an extremely difficult and financially challenging endeavour.

However, the advent of AI has begun to change all of that, with some trainers using analysis of a horses biomechanics to ascertain if it will attain elite level and ultimately increase in value. While many people still believe in human intuition and knowledge when it comes to picking future stars, advances in AI have seen it assume an ever increasing role in decision making.

Human Touch

Despite the onset of AI and its rapid introduction into our everyday lives, the technology still has a long way to go before it replaces human intuition or hunches. There are too many intangible and tangible factors that play a part in every race, that it’s almost impossible to predict with 100 percent certainty that a certain horse will win. Weather conditions, illness, mentality, luck, or even a poor night’s sleep can all play a part in both the jockey and the horse’s race performance.

The Future

There is no doubt that AI in horse racing has brought many important benefits to the sport, including better horse safety. However, AI is still not capable of predicting the future – at least not yet! Until then, if racing fans want to pick a winner. They’ll have to make do with a combination of AI and good old human intuition.  

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Allen Lee

Written by Allen Lee

Allen Lee is a Toronto-based freelance writer who studied business in school but has since turned to other pursuits. He spends more time than is perhaps wise with his eyes fixed on a screen either reading history books, keeping up with international news, or playing the latest releases on the Steam platform, which serve as the subject matter for much of his writing output. Currently, Lee is practicing the smidgen of Chinese that he picked up while visiting the Chinese mainland in hopes of someday being able to read certain historical texts in their original language.

Read more posts by Allen Lee

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