Betting on horse races was given a centralised structure with the formation of ATG in 1974. Since then things have moved on at lightning speed. Back in the 1960s, when the decline of the horse reached its lowest point, there were only 60,000 horses left in Sweden. Today there are over 225,000, and the horse has an important part to play in modern society, both as a recreational interest and in terms of employment and agriculture. One in three Swedes is in contact with horses in one way or another and the horse industry is the fourth largest sector of the nation's agricultural industry. Betting on horse racing has grown steadily over the 32 years since ATG was established, and in 2006 the total amount of money placed as bets on horse racing in Sweden was over SEK 11,000 million.
Sweden has 37 tracks, with Boden farthest north and Jägersro down in the south. There are 32 trotting tracks, four thoroughbred tracks and one combined trotting and thoroughbred track.
Sweden has five thoroughbred tracks and 750 thoroughbred races are held every year. Sweden's two main tracks for thoroughbred racing are Täby Galopp, just north of Stockholm, and Jägerso in Malmö.
Täby has 50 meetings a year, and Jägersro 25. The new Gothenburg track, which was opened in 2002, currently has six days of racing every year. In addition there is a special televised race every Saturday and Sunday, with Trifecta and Exacta betting. One meeting a year is held at the Strömsholm track, outside the town of Västerås, and similarly there is one annual thoroughbred meeting at Blommeröd, outside Höör in the south of Sweden.
Race tracks can have several different kinds of surface. Some courses have dirt tracks, which are composed of gravel and sand, while others have grass-covered (turf) tracks. There are also different kinds of thoroughbred racing. There are two kinds of race with barriers for the horses to jump: hurdles and steeplechase. The difference is that in hurdle racing, the horses have to jump movable fences that have been placed on the track, while in steeplechase the barriers are permanent constructions - for example, a bank of earth covered in brushwood, with a water-filled ditch the horses have to clear. Täby Galopp holds races on all the kinds of surface, Jägerso only has a dirt track, and Gothenburg, Strömsholm and Blommeröd only have turf. Although Strömsholm only has the one surface, it does host all three kinds of thoroughbred race - flat racing, hurdles and steeplechase.
Base distances are one of the following: 1.640 meters, 2.140m, 2.640m, 3.140m, 3.640m, or 4.140m. The first three ones are most common; the last three ones are rare. 2.140 meter races are the most common.
A computer is used to randomly select the start position of the horses.v
In Sweden, 50% of races are mobile starts, called Auto. The other half are circular starts, called Volt (also known as loud-speaker starts) where horses circle around at the post prior to start. The official start is signaled by the loudspeaker announcement "ready-one-two-go!"
Career earnings is the most common factor in determining a horse's handicap but age and gender are also taken into account.
Circular starting i.e. Volt start, handicap races allow horses to race from different distances within the same race. Each extra distance is 20 meters. The horses with less money earned start in the first tier at 2.140 meters. Horses that have passed the first limit (money earned) but not the second one start from the second tier and race 2.160 meters. Horses that have passed both first and second limit (money earned), race from two extra distances, thus 2.180 meters. Handicapped races can be held over any distances.
All races are open to trotters. There are no pacers or gallopers.
A horse will be disqualified if he uses pacing or galloping.
The rules on whipping are strict. During the race the whip can only be used to correct the horse or to give a light touch. The whip can thereafter be used a few times for light whipping in the stretch.
The driver must have one rein in each hand during the entire race; the whip cannot be used with both reins in one hand. The whip may not be used from the side, not be used on the sulky or on the horse's equipment. Several fast whippings one after another are forbidden.
The driver or the trainer of a horse in a race is not allowed to bet money on the totalisator board.
If a horse gets scratched in V75, V65, V64, V5 or V4, then another horse has to fill that place so the bettor gets the number of horses he has paid for. The substitution list/reserve order dictates which horse takes the place of the scratched horse.
All horses in the race are ranked based on its "points of starts". These points are based on the horses past five (5) races. For each race won it gets 150 points, finishing second 50 points and third 25 points. On top of this there is 1 point for every 100 SEK (Swedish Crowns) earned.
In Sweden, three and four year old horses perform in the Major Classic races. Four-year old horses perform in the Derby. In general, the age limit is 12 years for stallions and geldings and 10 years for mares.
Swedish harness racing operates with average kilometers rates, which means that they can achieve comparable time rates for all distances raced. A quarter of a mile is approximately 400 meters, but fractions are normally measured in 500 meters (1/2 kilometer) intervals. Mile rates are never provided.
Swedish sulkies have moving side poles along the shafts. The use of sharp items on the bridle and head poles is strictly prohibited.
Lasix must not be given less than 96 hours prior to the race. Injections with a needle are prohibited in the last 14 days before racing. There is no detention barn system in Sweden.
Drivers are obliged to register their own colours.