with Horse and Hound

Helmet Cams on Every Jockey

Small video cameras are enlivening TV coverage of sporting events from NASCAR to football, bringing viewers into the driver’s seat and onto the playing field. Some horse racing professionals are hoping that cameras mounted on the helmet of every jockey in the race will help stimulate viewer interest in their sport.

Cameras on riding helmets  may be nothing new, but Kenleigh Hobby, a student in the Horse Racing Industry Program at the University of Arizona is taking the idea one step further. He is mounting cameras on every jockey in the race as well as the trainers and the starting gate personnel.

His new company, EquiSight, is said to be meeting with success in marketing a system that records races for playback. But his dream is to allow viewers to “Ride the Race.” Viewers would even have the option of selecting which camera to watch, in effect riding their particular favorite in the race.

“We’ve seen what [the technology] can do for other sports,” said Hobby. “Horse Racing is still stuck in the binoculars age.”

There are obstacle, however, as Hobby has discovered. Not only is horse racing bound by old traditions, making it difficult to introduce new ideas, but there is no commissioner with jurisdiction nationally and no uniform set of rules. Each state is different.

What continues to propel Hobby, however, is the knowledge that horse racing is in trouble, and if the industry is to be turned around, changes are inevitable. Read more in Bud Foster’s article in KOLD News 13.

Posted July 23, 2011