How can you tell one racehorse from another?

Of course, during a race, each horse carries its own, unique colours – the jockeys of horses in the same ownership wear distinguishing caps – so it is easy enough to tell one from another. However, for security purposes, it is important that a horse can be identified on its arrival at the racecourse stables. All horses, regardless of their date of birth, must nowadays be microchipped and the unique microchip number must be registered on the Central Equine Database (CED), which is maintained by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

Telling one racehorse from another should therefore be as simple as scanning microchips on entry but, occasionally, a microchip cannot be read, so all horses must also, legally, have an identification document, or ‘passport’. Along with its unique microchip number, a horse’s passport also includes details of its colour and marking, such that it can be used to identify the horse, if need be. Horses racing for the first time may have their passports checked but, thereafter, identification by scanning the microchip is usually all that is required. Ultimately, if a horse cannot be identified, by one means or another, it cannot run in a race.