What is a stalls test?

The vast majority of Flat races in Britain and Ireland are started from starting stalls, so it is vital that racehorses remain tractable in and around the stalls. Horses that are difficult, or impossible, to load into the stalls, or become fractious and unruly once loaded, may need to be withdrawn on welfare grounds. Consequently, any horse that causes repeated problems at the start may be referred for a stalls test, which it must pass before it can race again.

As the name suggests, a stalls test is an official trial of a horse’s ability to start satifactorily from starting stalls. A stalls test may take place at a race meeting or elsewhere, subject to approval by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). In either case, the horse must demonstrate its willingness to be led into the stalls by a single stalls handler, with the assistance of no more than four stall handlers from behind, and remain in the stalls, quietly, for at least a minute.

A horse that fails a stalls test cannot take another for 14 days and, if it fails a second consecutive test, cannot take another, or race, for six months. If, at the end of that period, the horse fails a third consecutive stalls test, its future lies in the hands of the BHA Disciplinary Panel.