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Starters Orders

What are ‘Starter’s Orders’?

‘Starter’s orders’ are directions given to race entrants in the minutes and seconds prior to a race, through to the actual starting of that race. The term often appears in horse racing, but it is also common in greyhound racing and in track and field events. The ‘starter’ is the person responsible for the race at the starting line, who gives the order to race.

‘Starter’s Orders’ Explained

When a race is about to begin, entrants are expected to find their place at the start of the track and prepare to set off when the signal is given. To be under ‘starter’s orders’ means to be ready and waiting for the signal, and otherwise under the direction of the starter who has authority when it comes to placing runners and getting them over the starting line.

In a running race with human entrants, there are often starting blocks and lines, which gives the racer complete direction as to where they are starting from. In races involving horses or dogs, this becomes a little more difficult – the usual practice is to keep the racers in separate stalls until the signal is given or to get all entrants into a certain area and go for a running start when possible.

The starter must keep the race fair at all times, so they are responsible for making sure no-one gets an unfair advantage at the start. A ‘false start’ is when the runners take off before the signal is given, and whenever possible a false start will be recalled and started again. Some racers prefer to start from a run, while others get their advantage in a standing start, so how the starter’s orders are carried out can affect the result of a race to some extent.