How do I select the best starting gate for my race track?

How do I select the best starting gate for my race track?

  • On November 13, 2018

When considering a new starting gate for your race track, most race clubs immediately think cost. In this article, we look at some of the variables of starting gates, the range available, and why initial outlay is only part of the equation.

Whether you are a world-renowned race club, a country track, or a trainer, when purchasing a starting gate you must assess your needs.

  • Do you have a narrow track? Then the turning and maneuvering capabilities of the starting gate are important.
  • Do you need to manage your risk? Choose a starting gate with the highest level of safety.
  • Do you need to load the horses into the barriers faster? You should look at the benefits of the Steriline spring lock back gate system on our Platinum model starting gate.

Let’s look at some of the considerations and requirements that may be important to you, and what can save you money.

Starting Gate Lifecycle

The lifespan of a starting gate, like a lot of products, depends on how well it is maintained, however, it also depends on the quality of the materials used in the initial build. Let’s explore these two points a little further.


Quality materials must be used in the initial build to ensure the starting gate has maximum life performing consistently. If lesser quality materials are used, not only is the life of the product reduced but also the performance and reliability. For example:

  • Soft steel can result in bending and sagging of the truss, which means the barriers will open at different times and cause false starts
  • Brittle steel will crack and break, meaning the life of the starting gate is considerably reduced.


Starting gates must be regularly checked and maintained to ensure they continue to perform at their best. Steriline provides a maintenance schedule checklist to be conducted by staff at different intervals. In addition to this, we recommend an annual starting gate service by a Steriline Technician, just to give you peace of mind. To extend the life of your starting gate further, we also recommend storing undercover when not in use.

Many race clubs on-sell their starting gates after about 10 years to smaller country race clubs or trainers. Some Steriline starting gates are still being used 50 years after production!

Starting Gate Safety

An extremely important factor to consider when deciding on a starting gate, is how safe is the product? Does the product provide maximum safety for all operators and users, horses, jockeys, and handlers? Does the product meet safety standards and help reduce risks? In the case of a starting gate, not only does the product need to function safely and reliably, but it is important to consider whether you are providing the safest environment for the jockeys and horses. After all, this product can hold up to 25 horses at approximately 600 kg each, so that is a lot of weight and force from unpredictable animals.

Safety paddingSafety Padding

Do the barriers have safety padding? What is the quality of the safety padding? With so much invested in each race, (jockey’s welfare, valuable horses, betting revenue, sponsor and race club reputation), it is important to not take a gamble on making each race start as safe as possible.

Steriline specifically designed their padding as high density and custom moulded, to provide maximum protection, and it is independently tested as 3 times more effective.

Emergency Exits and Fail-Safes

When dealing with animals (or children), there are always unpredictable situations. In the case of manoeuvring horses into the starting gates, the best protection is to ensure fail-safes are in place on the equipment to allow for exits in case of emergencies. In racing, anything can happen, so the best safety plan is to have equipment that provides the safest environment for all scenarios.

Individual Track Conditions

With thousands of thoroughbred racecourses around the world, each with their own unique layouts and features, it is important to consider your track conditions.

  • Do you have limited track width? You may need to consider the manoeuvrability of the starting gate, does it have adequate steering that will help you to move the barriers off the track in the easiest and simplest way? Or could you end up with the gates stuck on the track during a race?
  • What is your racing surface and how will that surface be affected when towing heavy equipment on it? Weight distribution and surface compaction is incredibly important for racing surface protection and maintenance and is a factor that should be considered when purchasing any equipment to be used on the track, including your starting gate.

Starting Gate Models

Steriline Racing offers a variety of starting gate models so that each individual race club can choose the product that suits their needs. We understand that not one product suits every club. Our various model offerings include:

  • Our standard model (Silver model) starting gate which is usually compared to other starting gates that are available, although our model includes more features and our high-density custom moulded padding, providing you with a much safer gate;
  • Our top of the range model (Platinum model) starting gate includes the latest innovation and safety with the wide opening back gates, offering benefits of faster and easier loading with a much quieter start;
  • We also have models that are used exclusively in certain countries, or that have been ‘custom-built’ to suit specific requirements of customers, so contact us today if you have a special requirement.

How do I choose the best starting gate

No matter which model you choose, please consider the life cycle, features and benefits, and all factors of the product. Although the initial cost may seem less, if you evaluate the product and maintenance costs over the life of the product, the cost difference may surprise you, and end up saving you thousands.

Contact us to make sure you have all the important factors covered when making a buying decision.