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London tracks to experiment with metric system

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Four racecourses in London will experiment using the metric system as a way to make horse racing more appealing to visitors and foreign spectators. This summer, tracks such as Ascot, Sandown Park, Kempton Park and Epsom Downs will use metric weights and distances. Sandown Park will use metric measurements beginning July 25.

The initiative was started by Racing for Change, an organisation whose mission is to make Britain’s £10 billion horseracing industry more appealing to the widest possible audience. Given that most of the sport’s global audience is more familiar with the metric system could lead to a permanent adjustment in the future.

Horse racing is the only sport that uses the furlong to measure racing distances. In Old English, the furlong refers to the length of the furrow in one acre of a ploughed field. With the change, the weights of jockeys could now feature kilos instead of stones and pounds.

“This is a great idea when so many tourists will be visiting Britain for the Olympics. In Italy, I grew up with metrics so it’s second nature to me, as well as to my kids, but I can understand why they’re running them side-by-side since many racegoers are happier with Britain’s Imperial measures,” said jockey Frankie Dettori.