A horse race is a competitive event in which horses, usually thoroughbreds, are driven by jockeys to run around a circular course for the win. The rules vary by country, but generally, a horse wins by crossing the finish line first and outrunning opponents. The horse may be ridden by one or more jockeys, each wearing a silk cap (jockey cap). Besides being fast, a good horse must have the strength to carry its weight and be quick and agile enough to outrace its opponents.
During the horse races, the horses and their riders must comply with a series of rules, including: Having the right gear, checking for injuries or sickness, and staying focused and safe. Those who do not follow these rules risk disqualification or further sanctions, such as bans from the sport.
In the earliest days of organized racing in America, match races were conducted between two horses over four-mile heats. The owners provided the horses and the purse, and bettors placed wagers on the outcome of the race. The agreements were recorded by disinterested third parties, known as keepers of the match book.
By the mid-18th century, increased demand for public racing produced events with larger fields of runners. Eligibility rules grew to account for age, sex, birthplace, and previous performance of horses. Races focusing on particular talents were created, with the biggest purses allocated to those that had proven ability in different kinds of races. The rules also allowed horses to be classified as handicapped, in which case they were assigned a certain amount of weight for fairness.
Today, horse races are held in a variety of places, including racecourses, parks, and even private tracks at some estates. Although the number of races has declined in recent years, many people still watch and wager on the outcomes.
Despite the popularity of horse racing, animal rights activists continue to criticize it for its cruel training practices and use of banned drugs. They also note the widespread abuse of horses and the slaughter of tens of thousands of these animals each year.
Although the horse race succession process has its detractors, proponents argue that a vigorous overt competition for the top job among several recognized candidates shows the board’s confidence in its leadership development processes and provides employees with a clear path to senior roles in the organization. In addition, this approach is said to motivate executives by giving them an opportunity to prove their mettle and increase their visibility to the board. It is believed that over time, this can lead to greater innovation and accelerated growth. The horse race approach has been successfully used by such giants as General Electric, Procter & Gamble and GlaxoSmithKline. However, some governance observers and executives are wary of the horse race model and its potential for fostering conflict and personality clashes. For these reasons, other approaches to selecting a CEO are becoming more popular.