Denoted as F on a racecard, ‘fell’ refers to those times when a horse fails to avoid an obstacle and falls or hits the floor when landing without interference from another runner.
This is the worst possible result in jump races, but luckily, on most occasions, jockeys and horses immediately get back to their feet and escape without a serious injury.
Falls are very rare in flat racing.
This type of non-finishing is the easiest and most straightforward to understand. Horses fall when they fail to make it over an obstacle. Maybe they tumble when landing on soft ground or hit the hurdle and fence. Either way, this is what a fall denotes in horse racing.
The main thing here is that the horse fell because of the rider’s mistake or misjudgement, and no other horse or jockey was involved. Keep in mind that this is clearly different from the term brought down.
Examples from Previous Horse Racing Competitions
Horse falling has been common in major racing competitions, including Cheltenham Festival and The Grand National. For example, in 2017, the Cheltenham Festival competition included more than 15 cases, including Charbel in the Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase and Burtons Well in the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase.
In most cases, horse falls do not impact the whole competition. But they can affect the outcome, especially in terms of betting. Faller insurance can help if the horse you have backed falls during the race.
According to the current rules of racing, a horse must be able to carry all of the assigned weight across the entire race. If it does not, it is disqualified, which means a horse can’t win a race without a jockey.
The racing rules don’t state that the horse must carry the jockey on its back for it to complete the race. In a race some years back, the jockey on the leading horse started to slide out of the saddle and to avoid falling and being trampled, the rider locked his arms around the neck of the horse. He was still in the same position when the horse crossed the finishing line as the winner.
The race officials reviewed the film and concluded that the rider’s feet had never touched the ground, meaning the horse carried the assigned weight the entire race and distance. The outcome was that this horse and jockey had won the race, and the result was allowed to stand.
How Does a Falling Horse Affect the Race?
A horse is classified Did Not Finish (DNF) as soon as it loses its jockey. For beginners, that means it is running without all of its assigned weight.
In many cases, the rider will pull up the horse immediately to avoid any interference. At any time, a loose horse is dangerous as it can lead to bringing down and unseating other jockeys. If trying to run the horse down impacts the race more, they wait until it slows down.
What It Means For Bets
The letter F on a racecard denotes that a given horse has been a victim of falling in the previous race. Most horses that go on to win one or more races after falling hadn’t won either of the contests they participated in prior to the fall. Also, a lot of horses that win one or two of the contests before their fall went on to lose the next races after that. As a bettor, it isn’t the fall of a horse that matters but its general form when it comes to the next race.
When you are looking at the past behaviour of a horse on the racetrack in order to make your final decision in terms of betting, do not base your judgements on the fall in the previous races. Try as much as possible to look at how a given horse has responded to the previous fall that it has had, and that should provide you with a clear picture of whether it can perform well or not. You can also take advantage of faller insurance and cash-out features that sportsbooks offer.
If your horse falls during a race you bet has lost unless you have faller or fail to finish insurance where you will get your win stake back up to a set amount (e.g. £10). Most faller insurance offers give your stake back as a free bet.