Does Horse Racing Get Cancelled In The Rain?

Horse racing enthusiasts often wonder how weather conditions, particularly rain, influence racecourse events. It’s no secret that rainfall can significantly impact ground conditions and rider safety on the track.

In fact, in 2018 alone, a whopping 60 horse races were cancelled due to adverse weather conditions with heavy rainfall being the main culprit. So does horse racing get cancelled in the rain? This blog delves into the effects of wet weather on turf racing, safety concerns for horses and jockeys, and factors influencing race cancellations, providing crucial insights for fans eager to understand how downpours can shape their favourite sport.

Key Takeaways

  • The impact of rain on horse racing can be significant, affecting track conditions and creating safety concerns for horses and jockeys.
  • Race officials consider several factors including the amount and intensity of rainfall, track drainage and maintenance, and weather forecast when making decisions about whether to cancel or proceed with races during rainy conditions.
  • High-profile horse races have been cancelled due to rain in the past, causing disruption to racing schedules. Communication with trainers, jockeys, and spectators is vital in handling race cancellations related to bad weather.

The Impact Of Rain On Horse Racing

Rain can have a significant impact on horse racing, affecting the condition of the track, creating safety concerns for horses and jockeys, and potentially impacting betting and revenue.

Effects On Track Conditions

One of the primary concerns with rainfall during horse races is the effect on track conditions. Rain can significantly alter the turf, influencing factors such as traction and stability for both horses and jockeys.

For instance, heavy rain may cause the ground to become overly saturated and muddy, making it difficult for horses to maintain their footing during a race.

Conversely, light rain can actually have a positive impact on certain types of tracks by compacting loose soil, ultimately creating faster racing conditions. However, this is dependent on various factors including adequate drainage systems at racecourses ensuring water doesn’t accumulate in excess amounts.

In some cases where prolonged periods of dry weather occur prior to rainstorms, what initially appears as welcome relief might create a phenomenon called “false ground”. As moisture quickly penetrates only surface levels of hardened soil without proper absorption throughout lower layers, resulting in deceptive going conditions which complicate matters further for trainers assessing suitability for their horses under given circumstances.

Safety Concerns For Horses And Jockeys

The safety of horses and jockeys is of utmost importance in any horse race, and rain can pose significant risks to both. Wet track conditions can make it difficult for horses to maintain their footing, leading to slips and falls that can result in injuries or worse.

Riders may also need to adjust their riding style during a wet race, which can affect their ability to manoeuvre through turns at high speeds. Race officials pay close attention to these factors when deciding whether a race should be cancelled due to adverse weather conditions.

For example, many high-profile races have been cancelled due directly related rain concerns over recent years events like The Cheltenham Festival’s Day 4 event called off entirely before racing began in March 2020 due “waterlogged ground” – demonstrating how seriously organisers take safety issues related rainfall influencing horse racing.

Impact On Betting And Revenue

Rain can have a significant impact on horse racing betting and revenue, as it can cause unpredictable changes in track conditions. When the ground becomes wet, it can lead to slower times and altered race outcomes, making it challenging for bettors to predict winners accurately.

Furthermore, if races are cancelled due to heavy rain or other adverse weather conditions, bookmakers may experience losses from pre-placed bets that are refunded. For example, in 2019, the Grand National meeting was cancelled after three horses died during the first day of racing due to heavy rainfall.

It is essential for race organisers to consider all factors when deciding whether to cancel or continue with races during adverse weather conditions such as rain.

Factors In Deciding To Cancel Or Continue Racing In The Rain

Race officials consider several factors when deciding whether to cancel or proceed with horse racing in the rain, including the amount and intensity of rainfall, the condition of the track surface and drainage, as well as weather forecasts for the rest of the day.

Severity Of Rainfall

The severity of rainfall is one of the important factors that determine whether a horse race will be cancelled due to bad weather conditions. The amount of rainfall can greatly impact the condition of the racecourse and make it unsafe for horses and jockeys to compete.

However, there is no specific quantity of rain that determines whether a race will be cancelled or not.

Race officials rely on their experience and expertise to decide when it’s safe for racing in wet conditions. Weather forecast considerations are also taken into account in determining if cancellation is necessary.

Track Drainage And Maintenance

Racecourse management plays a critical role in determining whether horse racing events will get cancelled due to rain. Proper drainage and maintenance of the track can minimise the impact of rainfall on racecourses, making it more likely for events to proceed as planned.

Regular maintenance of the track is also necessary to ensure its safety during wet weather conditions. This includes grading and levelling the turf regularly, as well as aerating it before races.

When heavy rain is forecasted, sand or other absorbent materials may be added to the surface of the track to improve traction for horses and prevent slipping.

Weather Forecast Considerations

Race organisers and officials take weather forecasts into account when considering whether to cancel or continue horse racing in the rain. The forecasted amount of rainfall, as well as its severity and duration, can have a major impact on track conditions and safety concerns for horses and riders.

For example, if there is a risk of high winds during a storm, debris could be blown onto the racecourse making it unsafe for jockeys and horses. Similarly, freezing temperatures may cause problems with frost or ice on the ground that poses hazards to both animals and people.

Therefore, experts carefully monitor weather patterns using advanced technology to decide whether conditions are safe enough for racing to proceed or not.

Examples Of Cancelled Horse Races Due To Rain

Several notable horse races have been cancelled due to rain, including the 2017 Cheltenham Festival’s second day of racing and the 2019 Lincoln Meeting at Doncaster.

Notable Races Cancelled Due To Weather

Rain, along with other weather conditions, has led to the cancellation of some high-profile horse races over the years. One such race was the 2016 Grand National in Aintree which had to be cancelled due to water-logging on the course and further heavy rainfall making it impossible for racing.

The Irish Champion Stakes that same year also had to be postponed due to a waterlogged track at Leopardstown Racecourse.

Despite these cancellations causing disappointment for fans and revenue loss for organisers, they do highlight that their priority is always maintaining safety levels for all involved while ensuring fair racing even though this means last minute changes or call-offs depending on what Mother Nature brings.

Impact On Racing Schedules And Events

Rain can have a significant impact on the racing schedules and events of horse races. If a race is cancelled due to bad weather, it can cause disruption in the racing calendar and may result in rescheduling issues.

For example, in 2019, the Grand National Festival at Aintree had to be rearranged due to heavy rainfall, causing major disruptions for both attendees and participants.

Ultimately, race officials must weigh up the safety concerns for horses and riders against logistical considerations such as scheduling when deciding whether or not to run races during periods of inclement weather.

How Race Organisers And Officials Handle Rain-Related Cancellations

Race organisers and officials have to make difficult decisions when it comes to cancelling horse races due to rain, taking into account the safety of horses and jockeys as well as maintaining fair conditions for betting.

Communication With Trainers, Jockeys, And Spectators

Race organisers and officials must communicate clearly with trainers, jockeys, and spectators about rain-related cancellations. Cancelled races can be frustrating for all involved parties, but safety must always be the top priority.

Trainers are informed through text messages or phone calls as soon as a race is cancelled or postponed. Jockeys also receive updates on their mobile phones, ensuring that they know whether they need to travel long distances in vain.

Spectators who have already bought tickets are contacted via email or SMS with instructions on how to claim refunds.

Rescheduling Options

If a horse race is cancelled due to rain, there are several options available for rescheduling the event. One option is to simply move the race to another date when conditions may be more favourable.

Another possibility is to postpone the race until later in the same day, allowing time for track maintenance and better weather conditions.

In some cases where rescheduling is not possible, refunds and compensation may be offered to spectators who have purchased tickets for cancelled events.

Refunds And Compensation

In the event that a horse race is cancelled due to rain, refunds and compensation options may vary depending on the racecourse and event. Some venues will offer full or partial refunds for ticket holders, while others may offer vouchers for future events.

However, in the case of cancelled horse races, there is often little that can be done to compensate trainers and jockeys who have already invested time and resources into preparing their horses.

Despite this, safety remains a top priority for those involved in horse racing, both for equine competitors and human participants.


In conclusion, rain can have a significant impact on horse racing. The safety of horses and riders is the primary consideration when making decisions about whether to cancel or continue races in rainy conditions.

While some races may go ahead despite heavy rainfall, others will be cancelled due to concerns over track conditions and rider safety. Racecourse officials carefully monitor weather forecasts and track maintenance before making a decision about race cancellations.


Is horse racing always cancelled in the rain?

No, horse racing is not always cancelled in the rain. It depends on how heavy the rainfall is and whether or not it affects the safety of jockeys and horses.

What determines whether or not a race gets cancelled due to rain?

Racecourse officials will assess track conditions before deciding whether or not to cancel races due to rain. They take into account factors such as visibility, drainage, and overall safety for jockeys and horses.

Can a race be postponed instead of cancelled due to rain?

Yes, sometimes races are postponed instead of being outrightly cancelled if there’s hope that weather conditions will improve over time.

Are certain types of tracks more prone to cancellations due to rain than others?

Yes, some tracks with poor drainage systems may be more prone to cancellations due to heavy rains compared to other tracks with better water control measures in place. The likelihood of cancellation also depends on previous days’ weather patterns leading up to raceday.

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