Starting stalls are used for all races on the Flat except in adverse circumstances such as high winds or very heavy going when their use would be impractical or unsafe. They were introduced to British racecourses in 1965.
RaceTech operates starting stalls on behalf of the majority of Flat racecourses. At each meeting the stalls are supported by a team of professional horse handlers - under the direction of a team leader - whose function is to load the horses as rapidly, efficiently and safely as possible, taking into account the different needs of different horses: some need to go in late as they will fret if in the stalls too long, others require particularly sensitive handling. RaceTech supplies and trains the teams of handlers, in addition to maintaining the stalls units.
Before the runners start to enter the stalls, all the front gates are locked in a closed position by means of spring-loaded latches linked to an electrical locking system, and the opening mechanism is tested before each race. Once all the runners are installed and the gates at the rear of each bay closed, the call 'All in!' is heard, the team leader yells ‘Clear!’, the starter presses the electrical release mechanism which unfastens the latch on each gate simultaneously... And they're off!