SECTIONAL timing will be fully introduced at Turffontein, Vaal, Flamingo Park and Fairview racecourses in the near future and it is set to offer horse players, owners, trainers, jockeys and stipendiary stewards alike a rich insight into how races are run.
All the basic elements of the system are now in place and limited sectional-timing data is being distributed when appropriate in order to assist with checking the validity of the data and the fine tuning of the displays.
All aspects of the system will be vigorously tested and checked over the next few weeks and adjustments made where necessary.
Sectional timing has long been part and parcel of horseracing in the USA, the biggest horseracing nation on earth, and many American punters would be lost without it.
The existing official timing system in South Africa – and in many other countries – only records the time taken by each horse for the full distance of the race. These times offer much assistance in assessing the merit of horses’ performances, especially when other factors like track variants and average times for the class, course and distance are taken into account – as with Computaform speed ratings for example.
It is a system built from scratch because the cost of buying an international off-the-shelf system was prohibitive and there have been unfortunate but inevitable delays in the implementation.
Problems encountered in the development of the system have ranged from the sectional-timing devices inserted into the saddle cloths having to be redesigned to a myriad of other issues.
But the good news is that development of the system is now in the home straight and once current testing is completed to everybody’s satisfaction it should be all systems go.
Arnold Hyde, Racing Control Executive at the National Horseracing Authority, said the betting public and racing officials will benefit greatly from sectional timing.
“The way racing is going, the bettors and the public are demanding as much information as possible.”
Hyde emphasised that the NHRA as the industry regulator has placed stringent demands on the equipment used.
“Foremost is that the equipment must in no way be harmful to horse or rider,” said Hyde. “It must cause no discomfort and it must have no negative effect whatsoever.”