Factors associated with failure of racehorses to perform
Previous studies reported high non-run and non-placed rates, high incidence of injury and cost-ineffectiveness of 2-year-olds Thoroughbreds in flat-race training. This study confirmed these reports and described the role of athletic (in)abilities and injuries in it, such as sore shins, joint problems, inflammatory airway diseases, fractures and rhabdomyolysis.
Records were taken from 1022 Thoroughbred foals over a period of three years by annual surveys and particular questionnaires. Results showed that, at the age of two years, 52% of the recorded Thoroughbred foals entered training, 30% competed on or more times and only 3% earned enough money to cover their training fees. At the age of three years, 45% entered training, 34% competed on one or more times and 7% earned enough money to cover their training fees. Overall, 62% of the trained 2-year-olds and 50% of the trained 3-year-olds suffered one or more veterinary ailment. ‘Sore shins’ was the most common veterinary problem and reckons incidence numbers of 29% and 12% in the two- and three-years-old trained Thoroughbreds respectively, followed by joint problems (11%; 13%), inflammatory airway diseases (13%; 8%), fractures (10%; 9%), rhabdomyolysis (5%; 4%), knee chips (3%; 3%); tendon problems (2%; 4%) and others.
Furthermore, this study notifies no significant alterations over the previous two decades in the levels of wastage (horses failing to train/ race/ win), nor in the incidence of specific veterinary problems within British flat-racing. Therefore, the authors of this study conclude that the racing industry might have to alter breeding or training management.
Expert opinion by Isabeau Deckers
This study gives us valuable information on the incidence numbers of wastage (horses failing to train/ race/ win) and on the incidence of specific veterinary problems. Furthermore, it stimulates the racing industry to reflect on its breeding and training management, as similar results were reported already in the previous two decades. Though, notice must be made on the date of this study and on the more recent research in the race industry, which indicates that more and more investigations are done to decrease the incidences of wastage and specific veterinary problems.
> From: Wilsher et al., Equine vet. J 38 (2006) 113-118. All rights reserved to Wilsher, S.. Click here for the online summary.