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There are certain procedures that are followed before and after a horse race, and among them is a ritual which is set in stone that has been part of horse racing for centuries.
Before a race horses appear in the parade ring. They walk around this ring in view of the general public. The connections of the horses in a race gather in the middle of the parade ring. The trainer and owners discuss the prospects for their horse and then the jockey joins the party.
After a few words with the connections, the jockey mounts the horse and they continue to walk around the parade ring for a few circuits. A few minutes before the scheduled start of a race the horses leave the parade ring and travel to the start of the race.
The parade ring is an important part of racing because horses are walked in view of the public. Temperament is important for a successful horse, and appearing in the parade is a test of a horse’s mentality. Race goers are within touching distance and some horses can become distracted from the job in hand.
Professional punters can glean a great deal from the appearance of a horse in the parade ring. Horses may sweat and male horses can become coltish and any change manifests itself in the appearance of a horse.
The parade ring also gives the jockey a chance to gain the confidence of a horse, and trainers give out instructions about race tactics to the jockeys before they get on board and walk around the parade ring.
Before major races horses are paraded in front of the stands in racecard order and this is also a test of temperament.