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At The Course - 4 of 5
Stables and Pre-parade ring
Somewhere, usually on the edge of the course, are the racecourse stables. These are secure areas to which access is restricted to those responsible for the horses. Members of the public do not have access to the stables. The horses stay in the stables from their arrival at the course until about 40 minutes before the start of their race. (Horses that may have had a very long journey may well arrive at the racecourse stables the night before the race, giving them time to unwind after the long journey)
About 30 - 40 minutes before the race the horses will be led from the stables to the pre-parade ring. This is the first opportunity racegoers will have to see the horses. They will be led round by their grooms but will not have been saddled.
In the meantime the jockeys will be “weighing out”. In each race a horse is allocated the weight it has to carry. This is the weight of the jockey plus the saddle and if this is less than the weight allocated then weights will be added to the saddle to ensure the correct weight is carried. Weights are checked by the clerk of the scales. Once the jockey has weighed out the saddle is handed to the trainer and the horse is saddled.
Most courses have the saddling boxes next to the pre-parade ring and it’s possible to see the horses having their saddles fitted. As well as the saddle a number cloth is worn which corresponds to the horses number on the racecard. Other pieces of equipment that a horse may carry includes blinkers, visor, cheekpieces or a noseband.