Everything You Need to Know About Horse Racing


From 'the going' to national hunt, master the rules of horse racing before enjoying a day at Dorset's finest racecourse.


16th March 2018

The Acorn Inn

Located within driving distance of The Acorn Inn, enjoy a day at the races at Dorset'sWincanton Racecourse Surrounded by the beautiful Dorset countryside, Wincanton promises an exhilarating day out thanks to its demanding jump racecourse, where fixtures are regularly scheduled from October until May. Suitable for all ages, the racecourse is also home to a selection of tempting stalls and restaurants. Before you set off, prepare yourself for a day at the races with our guide to everything you need to know about horse racing.

Horse Racing Facts


The sport dates back to 700BC, when racing horses was a favoured Ancient Greek pastime. However, racing as we know it today gained popularity with the British nobility during the 17th century, when King James I developed a fondness for the sport and many of the major horse races that still exist today were established during this period.

Flat Racing vs. National Hunt

Racing is divided into two different styles: flat racing and National Hunt. National Hunt includes the two further categories, hurdles and steeplechases. Wincanton is a National Hunt steeplechase course and horses and riders must contend with challengingly large steeplechase fences as they race around the track.

Horse Racing Facts

The Going

The going is a phrase used to describe the conditions of the racecourse itself. This is important because the wetness of the ground is likely to affect the speed at which the horses travel. Simply put, if the ground is soft or heavy underfoot, the slower the going will be. However, preference for softer or harder ground can depend on each individual horse and the going will be an important factor for racegoers to consider when picking a horse to bet on.

How to Bet

>An integral part of a day at the races, a flutter on the horses is the easiest way to join in on the fun. In order to do this, racegoers need to first master the odds. For example, if a horse is billed at 10/1, for every £1 you put on that horse to win, you would collect your original stake plus £10 back.  Furthermore, spectators can also place each way bets, meaning you’re not only betting on a horse to win but also for it to place either second, third, fourth etc. An each way bet costs double the amount of a winning bet, but it also means that you have two chances of being successful. If the horse you bet on wins the races, then you receive a payout for both the win and place bets.

Horse Racing Facts

How Pick a Winner

Unfortunately, there’s no simple formula for picking a winning horse. Instead, there are many factors to be considered. Whether it’s the horse’s pedigree, who has trained it, or how well suited it is to the going that day, experienced betters will pay close attention to every aspect of the race before placing their bets.

 The Acorn Inn is delighted to arrange for guests to experience a variety of county pursuits from horseracing to fishing and golf.

Image Credits: Horses jumping over fence iStock/cmannphoto. All images courtesy of Wincanton Racecourse

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