What is a weight cloth?

In any horse race, a jockey must, subject to any weight ‘claim’, carry at least the weight shown on the racecard. Accordingly, jockeys ‘weigh out’, along with all the equipment they will carry in a race, including the saddle, in front of a racecourse official known as the ‘Clerk of the Scales’. In the event that the combined weight of the jockey and his/her equipment is lighter than the weight shown on the racecard, additional weight, in the form of thin lead weights supplied by the racecourse, is added to make up the difference.

In this case, the horse is question wears a special cloth, known as a weight cloth, beneath the saddle. The weight cloth fits securely underneath the saddle and typically has two or more pockets into which lead weights can be placed to distribute the additional ‘dead weight’ evenly. Most racehorse trainers prefer their horses to carry as little ‘dead weight’ as possible, on the grounds that it is more difficult to carry than the ‘live weight’ of a jockey, which can move relative to the horse. Nevertheless, in situations where the weight of the jockey doesn’t closely match the weight allocated, a weight cloth is an unobtrusive solution, which creates no distraction for horse or rider.