You know what it’s like – some days you don’t want to go to work, and would rather hang out with friends or retire to the sofa and binge-watch something on Netflix.
Believe it or not, horses are not unlike humans in that regard – and sometimes they simply don’t want to go racing.
That can manifest itself in a number of different ways – maybe they’ll refuse to race altogether, creating havoc in the paddock or on the start line. Other times, they will simply refuse to jump a particular fence… leaving their jockey with the unenviable task of riding them back to the stables before declaring ‘he/she didn’t fancy it today.’
Here’s everything you need to know about refusals in horse racing – and what that can mean for your bets.
What Does Refusal Mean in Horse Racing?
As mentioned, there are a few different scenarios relating to a refusal in horse racing.
Starting at the beginning, a horse can simply refuse to race. It won’t stay still long enough at the start line to enter the action, or it may try to throw its jockey off. Some racehorses really don’t get along that well with their four-legged counterparts either, and it’s not uncommon for a horse to kick out at – or even bite – a fellow runner.
Perhaps the most common refusal in horse racing is when an animal refuses to be loaded into the starting stalls. These are commonly used in flat races in the UK and Ireland, and especially for shorter, sprint contests, to ensure that all runners get a fair and level start. However, the stalls can freak some horses out – we all get a little claustrophobic from time to time – and they simply do everything in their power not to be loaded.
The third scenario unfolds when the horse refuses to jump a particular fence. This can happen anywhere, anytime, although some racecourses are more notorious for refusals – the Grand National at Aintree, for example, with fences like The Chair and Becher’s Brook sees a comparatively high number of refusals compared to courses with softer or lower obstacles.
How is Refusal Shown on a Horse Racing Card?
If you’ve ever looked at a horse racing card, it can look like somebody’s tipped a tin of Alphabetti Spaghetti on it by mistake.
Each of the letters has their own meaning, and for the context of this article we’re interested in those which refer to the different types of refusal.
- R – The horse refused to jump a fence
- RR – The horse refused to start the race
- LFT (or L) – The horse was left at the start line
To give you an example, here’s a card courtesy of At The Races:
You can see that Kisses for Katie refused (denoted by the ‘R’) in her last start.
What Happens to My Bet If My Horse Refuses?
The key differentiation here is when your horse refuses to race.
If your horse is withdrawn before the field has come under starter’s orders, it is considered a non-runner and your stake will be refunded.
However, if the field has come under starter’s orders, and your horse now refuses to start the race or leave the stalls, this is simply the dreaded ‘RR’ and your bet is settled as a loser.
And, as you may have guessed, if a race is underway and your horse refuses to take a fence, they are essentially disqualified from the action and your bet is also settled as a loss.
For bettors then, refusal is a definite negative in all scenarios.