Horse Racing

Breeders ‘Cup VR Experience Eyes Evolution of Sports

We were all there — watching a match in awe of the athletes and their amazing feats. We wondered what it would be like to soar through the air like LeBron James or crush a giant home run like Aaron Judge or do an arm pass to take down Patrick Mahomes.

Then we go to the backyard, a local park, or tournament and mimic our best. If that doesn’t itch you, there are video games that allow us to attempt to recreate those feats.

But unlike most sports, thoroughbred horse racing doesn’t allow you to compete normally. Weekend Warriors Won’t Race With Friends In Keeneland or any other world class track.

The lack of accessibility and relativity can prevent people from developing an interest in the sport. But thanks to a UK-based company, Equine Productions, fans can get a feel for what it’s like to race a Thoroughbred in competition.

The Breeders’ Cup JockeyCam virtual reality experience allows users to wear a virtual reality headset, sit in a chair developed for the experience, and at least visually, feel like a horse racer.

Registration for

Fans at Keeneland on November 4-5 for the Breeders’ Cup will have a chance to try out the VR experience minus the dedicated seats. Equine Productions will be set up behind the stands just off the lawn. Connect with horses that can get a taste on November 3.

“I think this is the closest we can get to someone who isn’t from the sport or has anything to do with the sport, it feels really like riding in a sport. real race,” said the company’s co-founder. Nathan Horrocks. His relationship with the sport is very deep. His grandfather and father were both jockeys and he has been a mountain biker for 10 years.

Equine Productions is the same company that developed the JockeyCam seen in racing shows on NBC and FanDuel TV. It is the forerunner of this VR experience. The difference is that while JockeyCam only gives the viewer a rider-like perspective, the VR effort offers a 360-degree view.

Virtual reality Jockeycam shot with Ashley Fisher and Joe Perez at Keeneland on November 2, 2022.
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt

BloodHorses’ Joe Perez and Ashley Fisher try out The Breeders’ Cup JockeyCam VR at Keeneland

Last year, Equine Productions launched similar VR services in the UK with six different races, including a tower race.

While the virtual race is predefined, fans will get a different experience depending on which horse/jockey they are paired with.

Horrocks described the race as staged. The process of getting to moderate jumps takes several months to complete. Filmed at Santa Anita . ParkThe venue for next year’s Breeders’ Cup, seven donkeys, Diego Harera, Abel Cedillo, Ryan Curatolo, Jessica Pyfer, Ricci Gonzalez, Umberto Rispoli and Edwin Maldonado, filmed.

“It’s great. It’s like being on a horse,” Maldonado said. “It gives people a chance to see our point. It’s very realistic. It’s great – I love it.”

To make it as safe as possible, there were veterinarians, ambulances, and gatekeepers.

“We need to be shown speed, making sure that everything we use (horses) is done safely,” Horrocks said. “So I joined with (senior vice president and general manager) Nate Newby at Santa Anita Park. And Nate was confident that we could get the right horses, the horses that would have them. experience on that track. Especially down to six -and start over half long, that’s downhill, which I think is going to be really exciting.”

Equine Productions limited the race and worked alongside horse trainers, who guided the production team to what they thought was the best horse in the field. To avoid what Horrocks calls a “catastrophic” scenario — one where the horses go to the front and stay there — it was determined that the best experience for the viewer would be if the winning horse came from the other side. behind or in the middle of the flock.

Riders are asked to stay safely in a group going down the hill until they cross the dirt track onto the ramp. But that’s where the choreography ends.

“They can let the horses go and then whoever wins from that point on wins the race,” Horrocks explains. “It was played out like a real race for the last two and a half seasons, but we just wanted to make sure they stayed as a team down the hill to give the experience the best chance of success and help the audience feel. get that. enjoy riding in a real race.”

The relationship with Breeders’ Cup dates back to 2017 when JockeyCam was first used in the United States during an event held at Del Mar.

“They’ve been driving our sport forward for years. We have a great relationship with those people. And every year, we check in to see what’s new,” said Marketing Manager of the company. Breeders’ Cup, said Justin McDonald.

“Our goal on the road is: can we put this VR camera on every driver in a live race?”

Putting that kind of access into an actual race – an unorganized race – would be an interesting prospect. However, doing so is fraught with pitfalls. While the JockeyCam weighs 2.6 ounces, the 360-degree camera weighs more than a pound and has a more visible presence on the jockey. Horrocks said the technology “will have to continue to evolve.”

The 360-degree camera, mounted on the riders’ helmets, is not yet ready for the scoring races. Horrocks says the size of the camera led a UK Riding Authority doctor to label it a safety concern.

However, the racers BloodHorse spoke to did not believe the equipment would be cumbersome or risky.

“Sometimes as soon as you put it on you feel a little different, but once you’ve entered a race, everything else goes away. You can just be the horse and the adrenaline,” says Pyfer.

However, regular use of technology can take some campaigning, especially considering the number of rides possible in a given day and the preparation for each ride.

“It’s something that can be really special,” Rispoli said of the technology. “You don’t want it to be popular for everyone to see it.”

He notes that an additional element of 360-degree cameras is that they can give chariot players and coaches another tool when analyzing races with different angles from what they are used to. yes.

Joe Perez.  Virtual reality Jockeycam shot with Ashley Fisher and Joe Perez at Keeneland on November 2, 2022.
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt

BloodHorses’ Joe Perez Reacts to The Breeders’ Cup JockeyCam VR Experience at Keeneland

For those unable to attend the Breeders’ Cup, there will be the possibility of a live 360-degree camera experience at the paddock and the front of the track using a VR headset.

McDonald’s said that in addition to cameras in the walk and winner’s circle, there will be 14 cameras placed on Keeneland’s roof and in 14 saddle stalls. Fans can track the horse they want through the Breeders’ Cup website and mobile app.

“We’re one of the oldest sports in the world. I think it’s in our interest … but once you get people to the racetrack, once you get them to experience everything that’s not going to happen. what our sport has to offer they will love it.” McDonald said. “So our goal at Breeders’ Cup is to use world championships to really give people that experience and get them into the sport and show them that this is a sport. Sports are really unbelievable.”

Joining a racetrack is a sensory experience with distinctive sights, sounds and smells. And while virtual reality doesn’t offer all of that, it does offer a different perspective. That prospect is one that hopes Horrocks will break through stereotypes about the sport.

“It allows us to reach the masses that we’ve always tried to do. We’ve always tried to appeal to a larger audience, and especially audiences that don’t really see us as good entertainment. a sport,” he said. “I’m sure there’s still a generation of young people looking at us — that’s what the rich and luxurious do. You know, people with money, they’re all in horse racing. This does, I think, is kind of getting through all that, all that nonsense about what we feel and it helps to show you what it’s like physically.”

It’s not just about fun. The ultimate goal is to drive more fans for the sport and develop a greater appreciation for the participants.

In addition to JockeyCam and The Breeders’ Cup JockeyCam VR Experience, Equine Productions also produces a show available on Amazon Prime in the UK and Ireland similar to the popular Netflix series “Formula 1: Drive to Survive.” Likewise, “Horsepower” seeks to bring viewers closer to the people and personalities in the sport. Horrocks hopes that one day it will be imported into the United States.


“What’s important for me to do this kind of crusade, is really to use certain ways of technology or media to bring this sport into the future,” Horrocks said. “Other sports have been doing this for quite some time, but I wanted to bring this kind of technology into our equestrian sport.”


News7F: Update the world's latest breaking news online of the day, breaking news, politics, society today, international mainstream news .Updated news 24/7: Entertainment, the World everyday world. Hot news, images, video clips that are updated quickly and reliably

Related Articles

Back to top button