Punters will now be able to find out which horse in a race are racing with ear muffs.
Computaform have announced that this headgear will be specified in the Computaform, their popular Computaform Express and TAB sheets.
Ear Muffs will be identified as “M” on the Computaform and the Computaform Express and as a < in your TAB sheets and newspapers.
Ear muffs are used to help deaden sounds which could upset horses and to prevent bugs and flies from entering a horse’s ears, which causes irritation.
They also help horses from shying or losing focus during key moments of a race.
KwaZulu-Natal-based trainer Duncan Howells confirmed he successfully uses ear muffs on a number of his horses in training.
“The main reason (I use ear muffs) is because fractious horses tend to react negatively to noise at the racetrack,” he said. “The cotton in the ear muffs help eliminate some of that noise and I’ve found that this not only calms them down but also ensures they are race ready.
“Sometimes horses also react badly to the noises made at the starting stalls. The banging sound, especially as gates open, cause some to miss the jump. This could cost them the race.”
Interestingly, Australian wonder-mare Winx, lost a mammoth four lengths out the gates in 2017 Warwick Stakes and although she went on to show tremendous courage – winning by a short neck – this performance prompted her trainer, Chris Waller, to fit ear muffs in her follow-up.
“She (Winx) wears ear muffs in her track work and she works every day in them,” Waller admitted at Rosehill. “It just helps block out the background. She always wears them at the races and we take them off as soon as she leaves the parade ring (but) she’ll wear them.
“Ear muffs are simply like wetsuit material that blocks out 20% of the sound. She will still hear 80%,” he said.