For those who have seen Steven Bradbary you will hopefully know where this is heading.
As an example – For an 8 Barrier track, 2 lap race the field would be divided into inner / outer horses.
Outer Horses will be required to complete the first lap on the outer part of the track using extra pegs half way out on both bends. When they enter the home straight at the end of the first lap they shift to the inner part of the track for their final lap.
Inner horses will do the opposite. Complete the first lap on the normal inner part of the track and cross over to the outer part of the track at the end of the first lap for their final lap.
Entering the home straight for final run and they can go anywhere to the finish line. The 2 groups of horses will have run equal distance by the end of the race, with the benefit that they only have half the field to dodge to get a clear run. They would still have equal opportunity to change their position in running during the race and they would only need to improve around half the field to do so. The cross over may even present different opportunities to change position on the straights.
It will work because the inner horses will have a lead on the first lap due to the less distance they will need to run. Even if they come to the home straight on the first occasion with horses clashing give way rules could apply. They normally have 200m down a straight to sort this out but majority of the time the inner horses will be out in front on the home straight first occasion.
How is conflict avoided? Simple Maths – Typical track with 100m radius and track width available of 16m, therefore outer markers at 108m radius. We can ignore straights:
1 Lap of a circle with 100m radius = 628m
1 Lap of circle with 108m radius = 678m. That’s 50m extra the outer horses run in one lap. I can’t see too many conflicts at crossover with that advantage. Even tracks with tighter radius the math is the same.
For races that have a half lap (Eg 2.5 laps) you just bring the horses together in the back straight on the last lap and they still run the same distance to each other.
Imagine the excitement on the last lap with the outer horses well out in the lead and the inner horses making ground up in the last bend – Like a 400m foot race.
Oh and if you hate it when your horse gets stuck on the rails – This idea will provide double the opportunity to find a run in the final straight. outside and inside for both groups.
I would love to see this trialed somewhere with a few smallest fields. It would be suitable for tracks with wider tracks.
Note – The timing systems (800/400) would need alteration and potentially duplication because of the outer loops. The race distances would also change a bit for the tracks.