Britain’s Racing for Change has announced that three racetracks plan a trial run at using metric weights and distances as a way to make “the sport more accessible to overseas visitors and younger adults.”
According to Racing for Change, an organization aimed at making the “horseracing industry more appealing to the widest possible audience,” the experiment in metric will be conducted by Sandown Park, Kempton Park, and Epsom Downs.
“Racing for Change believes that the use of imperial measures leaves many younger adults confused, with the vast majority of the UK population and much of the world now using metric measures exclusively,” the release said. “In UK racing, the furlong is used along with miles to describe race distances, even though this archaic medieval unit is not used in any other sport or industry. The word ‘furlong’ derives from the Old English words furh (furrow) and lang (long) and, in Anglo-Saxon times, referred to the length of the furrow in one acre of a ploughed field.
Currently, imperial units are the norm in British racing, with jockeys’ weights listed in stones and pounds shown rather than kilos.
During the trial, the three tracks will experiment with side-by-side usage of metric and imperial measures.
The first to go metric will be Sandown Park beginning with its July 25 race. The furlong markers will also be adorned with large meter markers, while racecards will carry both race distances and jockey weights in imperial and metric units.
“Racing’s unique language is an asset and part of its heritage and appeal, but we do think that the use of both metric and imperial measures will help us to explain the sport better to our international visitors and younger adults,” Rod Street, chief executive of Racing for Change, said in a statement. “Imperial measures don’t mean a great deal to kids and tourists, so it makes sense to trial the use of metric information. This summer, our London racecourses are expecting a significant number of overseas visitors, as well as British families taking advantage of free entry for U16s at most racedays.”
Based on the trial, the use of metrics would be considered being put into use at British racetracks later in the year.