Trainer Magazine

Trainer Magazine - the horse racing magazine for the training and development of the thoroughbred racehorse. Europe and North America.

Trainer Profile: Colin Tizzard

PROFILEWeb Master

READ OF THE WEEK - Click on the image below to read online now!

Published in European Trainer, January - March 2018, issue 60.

“He’ll win the King George, two years’ time, you wait and see!” Given that the speaker is Colin Tizzard, who has saddled the last two winners of the Grade 1 chase, the opinion carries weight, but a warm chuckle from him downplays the gravity of his statement.

Tizzard, his son Joe, and a group of owners are in jovial mood as they watch a pair of promising young novices school upsides at the trainer’s Venn Farm Stables in Dorset, south-west England.

Home to some of the most successful trainers, past and present, in National Hunt (Jumps) racing, the region has long been a hotbed for the sport and also for Point-to-Point (PTP) racing, a related category of amateur thoroughbred racing over fences which is often a starting point in the careers of National Hunt jockeys, trainers, and horses.

Tizzard is one of a number of trainers in the area who have a background in Point-to-Points and have made a successful transition to racing under Rules. His team has firmly established itself as one of the top 20 National Hunt stables in the country season in and season out, having started with two pointers to support his son’s embryonic riding career more than two decades ago, while also running the family dairy farming business.

The stable’s run of form has notably progressed from very good to excellent in the past three years. Last season was Tizzard’s best to date, when he finished third in the trainers’ championship to the two trainers who have dominated the British National Hunt scene for the past decade or so, Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls.

So what has propelled Colin Tizzard to the highest echelons of the trainers’ table?

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The Positive and Negative Effects of Oil in Equine Nutrition

NUTRITIONWeb Master

Published in European Trainer, January - March 2018, issue 60.

Oil is a regular addition to modern racing diets, either by feeding a high oil-containing racing feed or through extra addition of liquid vegetable oil. Research over the years has shown that oil is palatable to horses and digested very well, and that there is little difference in digestibility between the main types of vegetable-based oils used.

Oil that is integral to feed ingredients, such as that found in rice bran, linseed, naked oats, soya, etc., may have a marginally lower digestibility, as this will depend on how digestible the encapsulating matrix is to the horse. However, in the main both free oil and integral oil is well tolerated and digested in horses.  

In a natural environment, horses can easily consume between 2-3% of their body weight as dry matter from pasture. Oil has always been a natural part of the horse's diet, as grass contains about 2-3%, which may seem low but can provide the equivalent of 200-400mls of oil per day. Other forages, such as hay, haylage, and chaff, will also contain oil at a similar level on a dry matter basis.  

Horses can tolerate up to 20-25% of their total energy intake coming from oil, and this has been exploited successfully....

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Back to School: Dressage as a Training Tool

TRAININGWeb Master

Published in European Trainer, January - March 2018, issue 60.

To those not familiar with the idea, or indeed not familiar with the intricacies of managing the mind and body of the young thoroughbred, it might seem peculiar to take an animal bred for generations and engineered over centuries to display nothing short of super equine speeds, gargantuan leaps, and feats of middle-distance endurance, and to then turn it to the steadiest, most controlled, poised equestrian discipline. As mad a thing to do as this might seem at the end of such a horse’s career, to delve into it a day or so each week, or perhaps to go for an out-of-season dressage “staycation,” could seem just plain bizarre.

So why are we hearing more and more about the speedy souls that inhabit the world of horseracing sneaking out of the realms of the snaffle bit, flat saddle, jeans, and Cuban heel to indulge jodhpurs, curb chains, extremely high cantles, and Spanish topped-boots?

Well, it might not be as bizarre as it sounds. Three generations ago it was hard to find a trainer who hadn’t enjoyed some formal equitation training, most likely through the armed forces, but that was also an age where there was still some form of reliance upon the horse for anything as fundamental as travel, so there was simply a greater and more widespread understanding of the horse across the board. Many would have also known how to drive as well as ride simply from necessity. Later we will speak to one of the very few young trainers to have actively pursued driving, itself now a sport with an element of dressage.

Fewer and fewer trainers with each passing generation have a formal education in the fundamentals of classical riding, and it is perhaps only natural that in the face of such a decline there will be those that look to find an advantage in redressing this balance. Of course, there are always trainers who come to horseracing from more conventionally classical disciplines, many of them hugely successful regardless of code, country, or surface, and these exceptions prove as interesting as those who seek the help of specialist dressage instructors or riders to enhance the complex set of skills that have led to their success...

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Horseracing in South Korea: A GLOBAL VISION

INDUSTRYWeb Master

Published in European Trainer, January - March 2018, issue 60.

On the evening of 19th January 2017, something special happened in Dubai. To the casual spectator it might have seemed like any other horse race, but to viewers in Korea, the 1200m District One Handicap at Meydan was a watershed moment in their nation’s sporting history. Because the winner of this race was Main Stay, a four-year-old colt trained by Kim Young Kwan and the first Korean-trained horse to win at a significant international meeting since thoroughbred horse racing was established in South Korea almost 100 years ago. What is more, the winner carried the (KOR) suffix in the racecard, underlining the fact that the country is now capable of producing internationally competitive thoroughbreds.

Yet as Main Stay crossed the line on that fateful night, even switched-on racing enthusiasts and professionals with a broad international perspective may have asked, “So they race in Korea?”

Indeed, this otherwise significant nation’s racing industry remains relatively unknown across the globe. Recent developments have brought Korean racing into the spotlight however, and notable domestic and international expansion projects put in place by the Korea Racing Authority (KRA) could soon see it established as an influential player on the global racing scene....

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Starting Up: Where in the EU can New Trainers Get the Best Start?

BUSINESSWeb Master

Published in European Trainer, January - March 2018, issue 60.

In the previous issue of European Trainer (Issue 59, October-December 2017),  the Trainers’ Daily Rates Survey was summarised, while Europe’s best training centres were also featured. From the former we learned that only 38% of trainers derive their sole income from training, yet this doesn’t deter hopefuls from taking out their first licence. So, where is the best place to set up a new yard to tip the balance in your favour?

Just over half of European trainers keep between 10-50 horses; fewer than 10% have more, and it is generally not considered to be economically viable to train fewer than 30 horses. The average daily rate per horse charged by a trainer is €43, which would provide a weekly revenue of €9,030 for a 30-horse yard.

Comparing daily rate to staff wages, there is little benefit to be found in starting up in one country versus another. The EU minimum wage maintains a constant across the board although the stable staff associations of some countries, such as Ireland, do ensure that a higher rate is paid. Therefore, anywhere from 50-90% of the daily rate charged will go to staff. A shortage of good riders and experienced staff is currently being endured throughout Europe, so, again, a new trainer is free to choose any location...

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The On-going Effort to Minimise the Rate and Impact of Fractures

VETERINARYWeb Master

Published in European Trainer, January - March 2018, issue 60.

In thoroughbred racing, musculoskeletal injury is a major safety concern and is the leading reason for days lost to training.  Musculoskeletal injury is the greatest reason for horse turnover in racing stables, with financial implications for the owner and the racing industry. Injuries, particularly on race day, have an impact on public perception of racing.  

Upper limb and pelvis fractures are less common than lower limb fractures, but they can lead to fatalities. Reducing the overall prevalence of fractures is critical and, at the very least, improving the rate of detection of fractures in their early stages so the horse can be withdrawn from racing with a recoverable injury will be a big step forwards in racehorse welfare. Currently, we lack information on the outcomes following fracture, and an article recently published in the Equine Veterinary Journal (EVJ) from the veterinary team at the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) addressed this important knowledge gap.

Hong Kong Fracture Outcome Study

The HKJC veterinary team is in a unique position to carry out this work because their centralised and computerised database of clinical records, together with racing and retirement records, allows them to document follow-up, which is all but impossible elsewhere in the world. Dr Leah McGlinchey, working with vets in Hong Kong and researchers from the Royal Veterinary College, London, reviewed clinical records from 2003 to 2014 to identify racehorses that suffered a fracture or fractures to the bones of the upper limb or the pelvis during training or racing, confirmed by nuclear scintigraphy, radiography, ultrasonography, or autopsy....

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Getting to Grips with Strangles: Working Together to Break the Strangles-hold

VETERINARYWeb Master

Published in European Trainer, January - March 2018, issue 60.

Strangles, caused by a bacteria called Streptococcus equi, is one of the most frequently identified infectious diseases of horses worldwide. More than 600 outbreaks of Strangles are diagnosed in the UK each year. Infected horses typically develop fever followed by abscesses in the lymph nodes of their head and neck.

These abscesses are painful and the affected horses will often lose their appetites and become depressed. Some horses can be badly affected during an outbreak and the disease kills around one in a hundred animals. The bacteria can spread quickly through yards via contaminated drinking water, food, tack, equipment and people. Some outbreaks can involve all of the horses on a yard and all outbreaks require movement restrictions that usually remain in force for over two months. Consequently, Strangles is responsible for considerable economic and welfare cost. This article will provide an update on the progress being made towards eradicating Strangles and highlight what we can each do to keep our horses safe.

An age-old problem:

Strangles was first described in 1251 by Jordanus Rufus, a knight of Emperor Fredrick II. The disease was seen as inevitable and better for horses to fall ill sooner rather than later to get the disease over and done with. In 1811 Napoléon, Emperor of France, wrote a letter to request that the 543 horses being sent to his army should be “at least 60 months of age and should already have recovered from Strangles” so that they would be less likely to fall ill from this disease on the battlefront. More than 200 years later, many people still believe that it is inevitable that their horse will suffer from Strangles sooner or later. However, we understand so much more about the disease today and really can significantly reduce the risk of horses falling ill...

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Staff Focus – You are Only as Good as Your Team

Staff & EducationWeb Master

Published in European Trainer, January - March 2018, issue 60.

A major challenge facing trainers throughout Europe is the attraction and retention of skilled riders and grooms. Trainers are competing with many other industries, and fewer people favour the type of work offered in a racing yard, which means that trainers need to be more innovative and proactive when it comes to staff management, retention, and recruitment.

Entries for the Lycetts Team Champion Award in Britain closed on 1st December, but for those who didn’t enter, and for trainers in the rest of Europe, it is not too late to examine the aim behind the inaugural award and use the judging criteria to establish a team of excellence in your own yard.

The idea behind the Lycetts Team Champion Award is to reward the stables with good employment practices in place creating the best team ethos, and it is an initiative that will hopefully combat the long-term stable staff crisis affecting many yards. The award is judged on the methods trainers use to attract and retain staff, plus the safe working practices employed. The winning team receives an item of infrastructure or equipment that will improve working life within the yard.

It is hoped that the stories emerging from the award will publicly celebrate the benefits of teamwork and demonstrate that racehorse trainers provide rewarding and well-supported jobs, and this is an ethos that can be easily extended beyond the award itself...

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Licensing and Integrity - The Subject of the Latest EMHF Seminar

INDUSTRYWeb Master

Published in European Trainer, January - March 2018, issue 60.

The word ‘integrity’ must be one of the most commonly used in the output of racing authorities and, in our world, it carries a very particular meaning. Sure, it encompasses the normal definition of ‘adherence to moral and ethical principles’ but, with us, what we’re mostly talking about is the ‘straightness’ of how our sport is run and of those involved.

The latest in the EMHF’s seminar programme, hosted and delivered by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and Newbury Racecourse, took integrity as its subject and majored on the processes and criteria by which trainers, jockeys, and others are licensed in Britain, and the structures in place to combat race-fixing and unfair betting practices on horseraces.

The BHA was an appropriate host, since delegates could benefit from the conclusions reached following a major integrity review that British racing’s governing body had undertaken, aimed at improving “confidence amongst participants and the racing and betting public.” The review confirmed that measures to combat race-fixing and doping remained of paramount importance.

Within the BHA’s remit, integrity is certainly given high priority. The very first item under ‘Things we do’ in its latest annual report reads: “Keeping racing fair and clean: We aim to maintain the integrity of British racing by supporting participants to comply with the rules and dealing appropriately and effectively with rule breaches.”

The sheer scale and cost of the infrastructure that is committed to this aim, in a major racing nation such as Britain, may surprise readers. The staff complement of the BHA’s Integrity and Regulatory Departments numbers over 100. Within this total, the 40 or so who make up the field force teams of clerks of the scales, starters, judges, and inspectors of courses are outnumbered by those covering areas such as intelligence (collection, assessment, development), racing & betting analysis, investigations, licensing and registration, stable inspections, anti-doping and equine welfare integrity....

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Part I: The Thoroughbred Trainer in the Digital Age

BUSINESSWeb Master

Published in European Trainer, January - March 2018, issue 60.

This is the first article in a two-part series on social media for thoroughbred trainers. It examines social media usage and issues faced by trainers who wish to promote their business online. Part II will focus on broader industry issues and how trainers may use social media to affect positive change and ensure the future of the sport.

In less than 15 years, social media has changed the way we meet, work, shop, communicate, consume news and entertainment, find romance, and more. Few aspects of our lives have been left untouched by this remarkable phenomenon. Social media has made a limited group of people incredibly wealthy, empowered others to create new businesses or expand existing ones, and made various individuals famous or infamous.

Simply defined, social media consists of online networks that allow users to connect, create, communicate, and share in virtual communities. And we cannot seem to get enough.

• 73% of Europeans use some type of social media.

• 41.7% of Europeans use Facebook, the most popular social media platform.

• Many Europeans, including three-quarters of Facebook users, log onto social media sites as part of their daily routine.

• Most European social media users utilize more than one social media platform.

• The growth of social media is likely to remain steady for years to come.

As a trainer, you may be one of the hundreds of millions of Europeans who is familiar with the ins and outs of social media. You may be an occasional, routine, or even heavy user.

Alternatively, you may be a hold-out who is too busy or privacy-oriented. Regardless of your personal opinion of social media, it is worthwhile to step back and examine how social media may assist in expanding your training business, or, alternatively, present potential risks including both civil liability and criminal violations.

As a trainer, unless you have a full roster of owners, it is wise to have a social media presence to promote your business. Consider the many positives:

Getting Found.....

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Trainer of the Quarter - Jessica Harrington

TRM AWARDSWeb Master
Trainer Jessica Harrington has maintained an excellent run of form under both codes through 2017, including in the most recent quarter, which included a Listed success on the Flat at Great Yarmouth; winning seasonal debuts for two of the stable’s leading lights, Sizing John and Jezki; and a close second at Ascot’s Champions meeting for Torcedor. On the back of winning three Gold Cups at the end of last season, the winning return of Sizing John in the Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase pleased Harrington enormously. She said, “I was delighted with Sizing John. You never know what mark those three races might have left and he’s in great form.” So how does Harrington rate 2017 overall, given the spread and level of success through the year? “This year has been unbelievable, since January, really. We had Sizing John winning three Gold Cups and Our Duke in the Irish Grand National, Rock The World and Supa Sundae winning at Cheltenham, then Supa Sundae only just being beaten at Aintree, when stepped up in trip, and Punchestown was fantastic.” Harrington is no stranger to the winners’ enclosure at the major Jumps meetings in Ireland and Britain, but there has been a marked improvement in the form of the Commonstown Stable’s Flat string. “We made a good start early in the Flat season, and this year has been our most successful on the Flat,” says Harrington. The stable’s flagbearer on the Flat this year has been Torcedor, who joined Harrington from David Wachman ahead of the season and raced with distinction in the top stayers’ races. The gelding will be charting new territory for connections in the spring. “A highlight was Torcedor’s second to Order Of St George at Ascot last time and we’re aiming for the Dubai World Cup. I’ve had a runner over there before, about five years ago, but this will be another level.” Harrington singles out the addition of a second gallop, over seven furlongs, as a factor that has helped her team. “This made a big difference as previously I would have to go over to The Curragh, but I can now train mainly from home.” Torcedor’s Group 3 win in the Vintage Crop Stakes was one of eight black type victories on the Flat for Harrington in 2017, and the stable’s overall form has strengthened their strings for both codes. “We’re pretty even between Jumpers and Flat horses, but our results have led people to send us more horses. We have some more quality and I probably have 30-35 yearlings for 2018, with some more coming in.”

Published in European Trainer, January - March 2018, issue 60.

Trainer Jessica Harrington has maintained an excellent run of form under both codes through 2017, including in the most recent quarter, which included a Listed success on the Flat at Great Yarmouth; winning seasonal debuts for two of the stable’s leading lights, Sizing John and Jezki; and a close second at Ascot’s Champions meeting for Torcedor.

On the back of winning three Gold Cups at the end of last season, the winning return of Sizing John in the Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase pleased Harrington enormously. She said, “I was delighted with Sizing John. You never know what mark those three races might have left and he’s in great form.”

So how does Harrington rate 2017 overall, given the spread and level of success through the year?

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Profile - Mick Ruis

PROFILE (NA VERSION)Web Master

Trainers are nothing if not confident.

It’s rarely their fault when they lose a race.

It’s the track, the ride, the post position, the equipment, the weather.

Mick Ruis is a refreshingly standup guy in a game where the batter often receives a curve ball rather than a pitch right down the middle. He speaks with a child’s innocence, and he believes in the Golden Rule.

After he won three races at Santa Anita on opening day, September 29, he was humble, appreciative, and forthcoming when asked about the feat.

“Usually we’re lucky if we run one horse a day,” Ruis (pronounced ROO-is, as in Lewis) said, speaking of Ruis Racing, LLC, the ownership comprised of himself and his wife, Wendy.

“But we saved all the horses for that meet. I’m a believer that if someone helps you, like Santa Anita did by giving us stalls, you try to help them, so we wanted to save our horses for the short meet (19 days) since we were stabled there.”

Most magnanimous, but one would expect nothing less from a man whose philosophical foundation is based on curiosity and practicality. His esteemed business sense was developed through hands-on application, not surprising from a high school dropout who became a millionaire.

“I was penniless when I started, and to this day I work for everything I’ve got,” he said.

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The Art of Clocking Horses

RACING (NAT)Web Master

READ OF THE WEEK - CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO READ ONLINE NOW!

Time, an old racetrack axiom holds, only counts in prison.

But that ain’t necessarily so to horse players and horsemen worldwide who depend diligently on mathematical mavens called clockers to provide thorough, accurate, and prompt figures that might help cash a bet or win a race.

Clockers, succinctly described as people who time workouts, ply their trade at tracks from Aqueduct to Zia Park, zeroing in on Thoroughbreds and their exercises from before sunup until the track closes for training, a span of some five hours.

There are private clockers, too, whose primary interest focuses on padding their wallets or making their valued information available to the public for the right price.

They all watch like hawks, displaying the close-up intensity of a movie directed by Sergio Leone, often adding a comment such as “breezing” or “handily,” the latter being the most accomplished workout.

Each track later in the morning sends its works to Equibase, which publishes distances and times of said workouts for all to see, a regimen that has been ongoing for decades...

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Trainer Profile - Dennis Collins

Training (NAT)Web Master

Accepting reality is a lot more difficult when you’re on your back in a hospital bed. When your whole world has crashed. When you realize the rest of your life will be spent in a wheelchair.

Asked when he was able to wrap his mind around that, Dennis Collins, a 53-year-old jockey with 2,287 victories who was paralyzed in an accident at The Downs at Albuquerque in 2016, said, “The third day. I said, ‘This is the way it’s going to be. Why bitch and moan about it? I’m not going to walk again. But I’ll always have my own chair in a restaurant.’”

Collins, who recently began training horses with his fiancée Heather Brock – his lifeline, his saint, and his best buddy – has already scored a victory by not letting an accident take him out of racing and away from his passion, one begun whenever his parents, who had no connections to racing, took him out for a drive from their home in Gloucester City, New Jersey. “When I was a kid, every time we’d drive by a farm, if I saw a horse, I’d scream and cry,” Collins said. “We’d stop, and I’d go pet him. They’re beautiful animals. I’ve always loved horses. It was in my blood. I knew if I was short enough” – and at five-feet tall, he was – “I wanted to get into horse racing.”

Brock is so glad he did.

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Better Owner-Trainer Relations

BUSINESS (NAT)Web Master

The owner-trainer relationship is the core of racing. The owner supplies the horses, and the trainer supplies the know-how to manage them. It's a simple concept, but sometimes things go awry.

Some owners go through a succession of trainers with barely time for the horses to settle into a new routine before moving them again. If the owner has more than a couple of horses, the move is disruptive for the trainer, also. And the owner may develop a reputation as a difficult client who could pull the horses at any time.

Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg had 220 horses snatched from him one day because he was charging $25 a day and a young trainer, whom Van Berg had mentored, offered owner W. O. Bridge a $20 day rate.

"I won 368 races for them in 1974 and on January 1, 1975, they took 220 horses away from me. My friend took them over," Van Berg said.

The racing icon devotes an entire chapter to the incident in his book, Jack: From Grit to Glory.

Asked about owners who habitually change trainers, Van Berg said, "That's their prerogative to switch where they want to, and they'll see a trainer get hot and win a few races, and they'll want to put their horses over there."

Terry Finley, founder and president of the racing syndicate West Point Thoroughbreds, said owners have the right to manage their horses however they choose. Some changes are for the best, some are not.

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Social Media Horse Sense Part I: The Thoroughbred Trainer in the Digital Age

BUSINESS (NAT)Web Master

This is the first article in a two-part series on social media for Thoroughbred trainers. It examines social media usage and issues faced by trainers who wish to promote their business online. Part II will focus on broader industry issues and how trainers may use social media to affect positive change and ensure the future of the sport.

In less than 15 years, social media has changed the way Americans meet, work, shop, communicate, consume news and entertainment, find romance, and more. Few aspects of our lives have been left untouched by this remarkable phenomenon. Social media has made a limited group of people incredibly wealthy, empowered others to create new businesses or expand existing ones, and made various individuals famous or infamous.

Simply defined, social media consists of online networks that allow users to connect, create, communicate, and share in virtual communities. And Americans cannot seem to get enough. The Pew Research Center’s annual Social Media Fact Sheet on 2016 includes the following sobering statistics.

• 69% of Americans use some type of social media.

• The number of Americans using social media increased 64% in the 11 years from 2005 to 2016.

• 68% of Americans use Facebook, the most popular social media platform.

• Many Americans, including three-quarters of Facebook users, log onto social media sites as part of their daily routine.

• Most American social media users utilize more than one social media platform.

• The growth of social media is likely to remain steady for years to come.

Meanwhile, Google reported that 58% of Americans had watched at least one video on YouTube in 2016. Though some refer to YouTube as a video delivery platform, it is also a social media entity that allows commentary and conversation.

As a trainer, you may be one of the hundreds of millions of Americans who is familiar with the ins and outs of social media. You may be an occasional, routine, or even heavy user. Alternatively, you may be a hold-out who is too busy or privacy-oriented. After all, the Handbook for Thoroughbred Owners of California has described many horse trainers as “secretive” individuals who “keep to themselves.” Regardless of your personal opinion of social media, it is worthwhile to step back and examine how social media may assist in expanding your training business or, alternatively, present potential risks including both civil liability and criminal violations.

As a trainer, unless you have a full roster of owners, it is wise to have a social media presence to promote your business. Consider the many positives:

Getting Found

Traditionally, personal recommendations and referrals have been the method that owners use to learn about and connect with trainers....

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Does Nutrition Factor in Injury, Repair and Recovery?

Nutrition (NAT)Web Master

Lost training days through injury or infection are problematic for trainers, both practically and commercially. It is a stark fact that 50% of Thoroughbred foals, bred to race, may never reach the racecourse.  In young Thoroughbreds, musculoskeletal problems have been cited as the most common reason for failure to race, and this appears to continue to be a major issue for horses in training.  

An early study carried out in 1985 in the United Kingdom reported that lameness was the single biggest contributor to lost days of training, and subsequent research 20 years later found that this was still the case, with stress fractures, which involve normal bone being exposed to abnormal stress, being cited as a significant underlying cause.  Perhaps not surprisingly, two-year-olds were more susceptible to injury than three-year-olds.  

While there are of course many other reasons – including muscular issues such as tying up, respiratory problems, and viral infection – why horses may fail to train, in this survey medical issues accounted for only 5% of the total training days lost.

Balance between damage and repair processes are imperative

There are many factors that affect the chance of injury in Thoroughbreds in training, including genetic predisposition, conformation, and training surface.  Style and type of training, in terms of frequency and intensity and how this is balanced through recovery protocols, is also likely to be a significant factor in the incidence of injury.  The nature of training means that a balance between damage and repair processes are imperative.  Physiological systems need to be put under stress to trigger a suitable training response, which inevitably involves a degree of micro-damage.

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