Whenever I watch the races in Europe, the times 'seem' to be much slower than here. Is it because the races are measured in meters rather than feet? or if they say a mile, do they mean a mile and 70 yards? Or is it because the turf is almost always soft and that slows down the time? Just curious.
Races in Europe are timed from a standing start, i.e as soon as the gate opens. That adds about 2-3 seconds to first quarter.
Races in NA are timed from a running start, i.e the clock doesn't start until they break a timer which is anywhere from 40-100ft away from the starting gate, so horses are in full stride when timing starts.
Also, many courses in Europe have uphill finish. In some races they may be climbing the whole way.
And lastly, there is generally less emphasis on time in Euro racing, and turf racing in general... in otherwords they don't race the clock.
Take a look at this, it is the sectionals for the Queen Anne stakes at Ascot won by Frankel in July. http://www.turftrax.co.uk/pdf/tracki...1%20Report.pdf
You see that the first furlong took 15seconds to cover, the 5th 6th and 7th furlongs were all run around 11 seconds, the final furlong took 14sec because of the stiff uphill incline.
There are several factors. The pace of most races in Europe is the opposite of racing in the US. Horse in the US break sharp from the gate usually set fast factions early decreasing as the distance progresses. Conversely in Europe, where the horses really quicken in the last 2 furlongs. There is a school of thought that this, the style and environment of training along with the fact that the majority of all races and training is done on turf is the reason why their horses seem to suffer far less injury and do not by and large develop EIPH.
The timing of their races starts when the horses break from the gate/barrier. In the US the timer is set X amount of feet from the gate so the horses are all ready rolling when the timer is tripped. I don’t believe this has changed since I have been racing in Europe.
In England and Ireland the races are measured in feet/furlongs. In France and a number of other racing jurisdictions the races are measured in meters. 1200 meters would be considered 6 furlongs, 1600 meter race would be considered a 1 mile race, 2400 meter 1 ½ miles. But 1600 meters is 31 feet short of a true mile, 2400 meters is 43 feet less then a true 1 ½.
In the US the majority of turf races are run on “fast” ground, meaning good to firm and almost always taken off the turf when it rains. It is very rare to see a race run on soft, let alone boggy conditions. In France there are something like 6 different defintions for the "going". In Europe quite the opposite. Trainers are reluctant to run on very fast hard turf which really jars a horse. And a lot of races are run on the soft side of good and quite often on soft which sets up for slower and more tiring conditions. Most races courses in Europe are not perfectly flat nor are they a perfect oval. In fact some of the famous race courses have some pretty stout hills. European trainers pay very little attention to the times be it a race or works. They pay far more attention to “how” the horse did its job.
Gumtree also makes a good point about the going, esp for Turf racing. You rarely see anything less than firm going on US turf courses. US firm would be considered rock hard by Euro standards. Hard ground means fast times (and the unpleasant side effect of more breakdowns).
From what Drvm and Gumtree have posted, it's almost as if US racing were specifically designed to break down horses. It's just short course racing lengthened here.
So I assume that you would prefer horses in the US running over a ripped up, hole-filled, and eventually bare turf course so we could conduct racing "just like the Europeans do." I'd much rather have horses running over an even and predictable surface, whether it's the first or last day of a 3 month-long meet. If that means racing only on good or firm turf (except for stakes or better allowance horses) to preserve the integrity of the surface, then US racing certainly owes no apologies.
It is something I have wondred about for a long time. I am gobsmacked that the US doesn't start the timers until they get into stride! I always thought Clang! Gates open off they go, timer starts.
I am not getting into the other part, but it does seem like they have far less breakdowns in Europe than they do here. But they do racing entirely differently here than there.
Amazing the controversy a simple question can provoke.
It seems I’ve hit a nerve. That is NOT what I implied. If you and others have ever been to the races in Europe. You and others would understand my explanation. Comparing racing “across the pond” to American racing is like comparing apples to oranges. Yes. There is a start and a finish line but other then that there is little comparison. IMO. Here in the states racing is conducted at ONE race course for several months. So, yes, dirt racing is the main stay. Why? Because a dirt track can be “worked, conditioned” bar weather, to pretty much the same between each races. Our turf course can not be if it is on the soft side of good. Yes, the gate can be move out, and “dogs” set out from the rail so as to provide a “smoother” surface but this can only be done so many times when the meet runs for months. Which is way a track will “move” a turf race to the “main” track if somebody relieves themselves on the course . In Europe a race “meet” maybe 1 day or several days. Up until recent years all race courses were grass, and the majority, especially the “important meets” still are. There is plenty of time for maintenance and repair before then next meet.
No, I do not entirely agree with Vinery’s post. All I said was “there is a school of thought”. Read into it what you want.