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Gear Changes - How They Affect A Horses Chances?


Educational Article Series: 7th edition
Authors: Pro & Prince

Theres enough going on in a race without having to worry about what horses have what type of gear, however, some gear provides punters with a better understanding of a horses true winning chance.

In this article we will take a look at some of the more common gear changes, what effects they have on the winning strike rate and if the change is a profitable one.


Placed over the horses eyes, they help focus its attention straight ahead and prevent it from being distracted by things behind it. A trainer will often apply blinkers to switch a horse on and that may result in a sudden performance improvement (especially if blinkers are applied for the first time.) A downside however is they sometimes cause a horse to over-race or even sometimes miss the kick.

Horses with blinkers on for the first time actually presents a betting advantage but only in races 1400m and generally on horses with 10+ starts.

No statistical data on blinkers coming off but generally its best to take each horse on its own merit as blinkers affect different horses in different ways, i.e. A horse with blinkers coming off the start after pulling in the run and not settling would be viewed as a positive IMO.


Similar to blinkers in that it focuses a horses attention straight ahead, but allows more side vision than blinkers.


There is no strike rate or betting advantage for horses with winkers added for the first time.

Tongue Tie

A strap that keeps the horses tongue down in the right place, preventing it from either swallowing its tongue or more commonly choking down which obviously hinders performance.

Has a small betting disadvantage as opposed to tongue tie off first time which I have always viewed as a positive.

Feet additions

Grouping together bar plates, pads, glue on shoes, synthetic hoof filler, concussion plates and shock shod shoes as they all do similar things and 99% only go on when a horse has feet troubles.

Not as horrible as most punters think from a betting perspective however they do still pose a betting disadvantage when compared to those without.

General rule for myself is unless you can be confident a trainer has worked the horse in those additions or trialled with them and they have proven to be effective, then avoid at all costs.

Lugging Bit

Used to prevent a horse from hanging in or out during its races.

Has no effect on the strike rate or profitability for horses with lugging bit added.

Norton Bit

Helps to stop a horse from pulling hard during its races.

Actually has quite a large negative effect on strike rate and profitability of a horse when the Norton bit is added. This addition should be viewed as a hinderance.

Barrier Blanket

A heavy blanket placed over a horses rump before loading into the barrier stalls. It helps to calm the horse during the time its standing in the stalls. The blanket is attached to the barrier stalls so that it naturally comes off when the horse leaves the barriers.

Can’t find the statistical data on strike rate and profitability of horses with a barrier blanket applied but have never viewed the addition as overly negatively.

Generally is effective in serving its purpose of keeping a horse calm at the barriers so I don't view as a negative or positive.

Ear muffs

Helps keep a horse calm and cancel out any noise. If the ear muffs are red, this means a horse will canter around to the barriers and have them removed when they are ready to load. If the ear muffs are black a horse will keep them on and race in them.

They have proven to have a slight negative effect on strike rate and profitability when compared to those without them applied.

Jamie Kah

Getting Jamie Kah on first time actually presents a slight betting advantage when the horse is favourite. Something about the soft touch of Jamie's hands on the reigns seems to produce winners.

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