RACING – Research published in 2015 from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (Australia) quantifies the advantages of “slipstreaming” in horse racing. Slipstreaming is well known in cycling and speed skating: following closely behind another competitor reduces drag and helps the follower conserve energy.
Wind tunnel tests at RMIT revealed the following:
- If a horse follows two horses which are racing side-by-side, drag on the trailing horse isreduced 66%.
- If four horses are in a line, nose to tail, drag on the last horse is reduced 54%.
- If five horses are side-by-side, drag on the horse in the center increases 25%.
- If a horse follows close behind another horse, the drag on the trailing horse is reduced by 38.5%.
Clipping can be a dreadful side effect of riding in the slipstream. The slight stamina advantage of following close behind another horse can be a factor in narrowing the gap between the two as the one in front gets tired, and the possibility of the horse behind running onto the heels of the horse in front increases.