What is a shadow roll and why do some race horses wear them?

Shadow rolls are used in horse racing to help keep horses focused and Paddy is here to explain what they’re all about

Shadow roll horse racing betting

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Horse racing equipment such as shadow rolls and blinkers can look somewhat freakish on horses as they charge to the winning post during high-profile races.

After all, for most new horse racing betting fans, the reasons for why horses wear such weird head equipment isn’t often explained.

But that’s why Paddy Power is here to explain everything you need to know about shadow rolls, as part of our Demystifying Racing series. So, what exactly are these strange cushions of sheepskin over the noses of horses, and why are they so often in use?

WHAT IS A SHADOW ROLL?

A shadow roll in horse racing is a soft, smooth piece of padded sheepskin or other material that sits across the bridge of the horses nose. It is attached to the horse racing bridle in order to be secure during a race.

The point of a shadow roll is to partially block the horses vision, so that it cannot see objects on the ground. Race horses can be spooked when running by a wide range of things in their peripheral vision, which is why blinkers and hoods are commonly used at race meetings.

Some horses (like this one on the left) wear shadow rolls when racing to avoid distractions on the ground (Image: GETTY)

The shadow roll is one of these pieces of equipment that specifically keeps the horse looking forward, so it can better time jumps and bypass rivals. Indeed, the name comes from the fact that some horses will mistake a shadow for a jump and lose their footing on flat ground.

Devon Loch famously jumped and fell during the final straight of the 1956 Grand National. There are many theories as to why the horse suddenly broke stride, with the possibility that he thought a shadow cast ahead of him was a jump.

DOES A SHADOW ROLL AFFECT RACING BETTING ODDS?

If you notice that your pick is wearing a shadow roll then don’t worry. This item of horse racing equipment is rarely a signifier that the runner will fair worse than expected. In fact, shadow rolls are there specifically to improve the horses performance!

Because of this, bookmakers don’t tend to change their racing betting odds because a horse is wearing a shadow roll.

In fact, this is the same for if a horse is wearing a hood, blinkers or any other type of equipment.

DEMYSTIFYING RACING

THE PADDY POWER GUIDE TO RESPONSIBLE GAMBLING – EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

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