If a horse withdraws prior to the start of the race, it is declared a non-runner, and the stake is refunded. However, if the horse receives starter's orders and then refuses to compete, you forfeit your bet. This could be because it was not fit for competition or because it was injured.
In other words, yes, if your horse refuses to race, they can be forced to do so against their will (by starting them off with a whip), but they still lose prize money even though they did everything that was asked of them. In this case, the word "refuses" means that the horse did not come when called into the starting gate.
This might seem unfair, but racing is an exclusive sport where only horses and humans are allowed in the ring. If a horse does not want to race, there is nothing we can do about it. The best option is to find another horse to replace the one that refused to race.
It is important to note that this rule applies only to open races. In handicaps and match races, cases of horses refusing to race usually result in disqualification. The reason for this is that in these types of races, it is very difficult to know how a horse would have performed if they had agreed to race. If a horse refuses even once in such a contest, they are automatically disqualified.
If a horse is withdrawn, does not come under starters' instructions, or is officially considered not to have taken part in the race by the starter, stakes on that horse will be reimbursed, and winning bets will be subject to deductions in line with Tattersalls Rule 4. (c). If the owner or trainer decides to claim his/her horse was unfairly prevented from running, they can do so by filing an appeal with the British Horseracing Authority within 7 days of the conclusion of the event.
An owner or trainer who appeals a disqualification may be given a new start date if there is space available after all other appeals have been dealt with. If no appeal is made, the winner's purse will still be paid but it will include a penalty payment equal to 3 times the bet placed on the withdrawn horse. This means that if you bet $10, the penalty would be $30.
The BHA estimates that about 10% of races are appealed in some way. This percentage is probably higher for handicaps as many owners prefer to avoid the hassle of appealing decisions. However, it is possible for a horse to be disqualified after starting but before coming under starter's orders if, for example, it suffers some injury during training. In this case, the horse would not take part in the race and any bets on it would be void.
If your horse does not compete, your bet amount will be reimbursed. If a race is declared a Non-Runner No Bet, any future racing bets made on the Win or Each-Way market will be reimbursed if your pick does not run. The original wager should be marked "NOB" and it cannot be collected with other winnings.
The bottom line: If your horse does not run, you will be reimbursed for your wager.
Refunds can take from one to four months after the end of the season depending on how long it takes to collect all of the horses' earnings.
Watch as this horse abandons his jockey and "wins" the race! One circumstance that is worse than losing a race is losing the race because you were expelled from your saddle and the horse went on to "win" without you, rendering the win meaningless. However, this does happen from time to time.
Horse races have been known to be won by horses who are so sick or injured that they cannot continue racing. If this happens in the early stages of the race, it is possible for the winner to receive no prize money at all. But once the first race is finished, the field will usually be split up between the remaining horses, so that none of them can claim an advantage over the others. This means that even if you cannot follow the race due to injury, there is still a chance that you might win.
In fact, one of the oldest stories in history involves just such a race. In 776 BC, during the reign of King Leopold I of Belgium, a race was held at the site now known as Leuven Racecourse. The only condition of the race was that it had to be completed within two hours. No jockeys were allowed, and the horses were free to break any ruleings of dressage or athletics. Despite these odds, a stallion named Scamander managed to win.