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The early stages of a race can influence the outcome and how the race pans out in the closing stages. The objective for the jockey is to conserve the horse’s energy without falling too far off the pace.
Horses are herding animals which means the natural instinct is to run alongside other horses. Some horses are suited to racing off the pace so the jockey must manage the situation to prevent the mount running free and tiring. Jockeys try to cover up their rides and a covered up horse is tucked in behind the leaders. The jockey dictates when a horse moves forward after being covered up at the start of a race.
Tactics play a big part in race riding and jockeys know the best way to ride races. The most successful riders are better at judging pace and have their horses in the best position to contend. Some horses prefer to lead while others perform best from off the pace. A jockey will cover up a horse to give it the best chance of winning a race.
One of the assets of a top jockey is knowing when a horse should be covered up and when it should move to the front of the field. A horse that is covered up with generally be on the bridle and may go off the bridle when moving through the field.
The distance of a race will affect how long horses are covered up. In sprints horses generally run as fast as possible from the start and the fastest horse will get to the front. A horse is more likely to be covered up in middle and long distance races in which stamina is more important than speed. However, a covered up horse is more likely to get trouble in running than a runner who races from the front.