Horse Racetrack Directions and Shapes

Each horse racetrack differs not only in its surface but also in shapes and directions.
Each track possesses uniqueness; although they can have similarities, each has its characteristics and specific track details.

(You can view every racetrack we listed in List of Racetracks)
But to better understand its details, learning first the terms left-handed, right-handed, tight, and galloping will give you a clearer understanding.

Horse Racetrack Directions Left-Handed or Right-Handed?

Horse racetracks are run in two directions around the track. It can be left-handed (counterclockwise or anticlockwise) or right-handed (clockwise). It is one of the essential details of a track to handicap a racehorse before the race, as horses can also be left-handed or right-handed as well. It affects their performance and can significantly impact the result of each race.

However, it only applies in tracks with complete circuits (majority of courses) or incomplete horseshoe circuits like Brighton. The exception is straight tracks, which are used at several courses that host flat racing.

In National Hunt or Jump Races, the left-handed horse may have trouble jumping on a right-handed track, and vice-versa, as reports often describe a horse jumping out to either side. It can severely obstruct a horse’s odds of winning and might jeopardize the safety of the racehorses. Moreover, jumping in the wrong direction can turn the horse outside the racing line and force the jockey to return it. It will then make the horse lose momentum and accumulate more distance from the other horses.

As for the horse that matches his jump directions to the direction of the track, it will give the horse an upper hand because it will naturally maneuver the horse towards the inside rail, the shortest distance when turning around the bend.

However, other horse racetracks run races both clockwise and counterclockwise, which might be troublesome to horses who cannot run well in both directions. Some examples of right-handed and left-handed tracks are Newmarket, Epsom, Doncaster, Newcastle, Kempton and Cheltenham. That is why bettors should look more keenly at the horse’s skills and track details more clearly. A clear example of a situation bettors should learn about is a horse named St. Nicholas Abbey. He is the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) winner in six top-level prizes in left-handed tracks but could not win a single elite prize racing over a right-handed course.

If the horse racetrack has different directions to be considered, its shape also plays a vital role for bettors. The shapes can either be galloping or tight.

The galloping track is easier than the tight track due to its sweeping, few undulations, and wider turns. These turns are not as demanding as the tight tracks and are advantageous for more giant horses or horses with longer strides who like to keep the rhythm and maximize their raw power to full use and gallop without turning too much. Examples of galloping tracks include Aintree, Cheltenham, and York.

The tight track, on the other hand, is the opposite of a galloping track. Tight or sharp track turns are more demanding and challenging for most bigger horses. Smaller and nimbler horses have the upper hand when racing on tight tracks because of their physical proportions and agility.