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The Media and the Horse Race

horse race

Horse racing is a sport where a jockey mounts a horse and guides it along a set course while jumping hurdles if there are any present. The first few horses to cross the finish line win a certain amount of prize money. The breed of the horse is also important, as many races around the world are restricted to specific types such as Thoroughbreds or Standardbreds. The practice is an ancient one, with chariot races in Greece and Roman racetracks in the desert of Arabia having provided a foundation for modern horse racing, which got its start at Newmarket in England.

While the racing industry is finally addressing some of the equine welfare issues that have plagued it for years, including drug use, abusive training practices, and the slaughtering of older, injured, or breakdown horses, it still has a long way to go before it can truly put the best interests of its horses as its top priority. Oftentimes, racing aficionados blow off the concerns of animal rights activists and the larger public while continuing to operate their for-profit business with the worst of equine welfare in mind.

In the most prestigious races, horses are allocated a set weight to carry for fairness, with allowances given to younger horses and female horses running against males. These races are known as conditions races and offer the largest purses. Besides the fixed weights that a horse carries, its performance can be influenced by other factors such as position relative to the inside barrier, sex, jockey, and training.

A jockey’s style of riding a horse is another factor that can influence the outcome of a race. Jockeys typically use a whip to urge the horse on during a race, but there are some instances where a jockey might not use a whip at all and ride a horse using only their hands. This is called a hand ride and is most commonly used with younger horses. A jockey using a hand ride may be more likely to get in trouble for a riding violation.

Media scholars have been studying horse race reporting for decades in an attempt to better understand how the genre shapes news coverage of political elections in the United States and elsewhere in the world. A recent study analyzing news articles from a large number of newspapers found that those owned by corporate chains were more likely to frame elections as a horse race, focusing heavily on opinion polls and giving the most positive attention to frontrunners while downplaying underdogs who are gaining support. This strategy hurts third-party candidates and can lead to distortions in the coverage of an election.

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