IamA Assistant Racehorse Trainer in the UK. If you want to anything about the industry or horse racing in general let me help. AMA!
My short bio: Born and raised in horse racing, spent two years working full time as a pupil assistant racehorse trainer in a small yard. Currently part time while studying.
While I don't claim to know everything or expect a huge amount of interest I'd like to hope I can better inform a few of this sport and maybe persuade a couple to get involved!
My Proof: http://imgur.com/GNXYdlM Username with this years National Trainer's Federation (NTF) badge.
Edit It's been great to have so much interest in this and I hope I could help. I'm still knocking around if anyone has anything else to ask!
In the last ten to twenty years there has been an increased push to rehome and retrain as many horses as we as a sport can. I personally try to rehome every horse that leaves the yard to a good home, provided the owner is willing and doesn't want to keep it themselves.
I wouldn't say that selling horses, particularly race horses, for slaughter is common practise here. I haven't encountered any instances personally.
Horses are frequently run aged two or three in this country as well however I think it's wise to mention that while they do work hard it is not in our or the horses interest to overwork or break them down. In our yard if a young horse is showing signs of struggling we will ease off and give them time.
Sadly no! I haven't actually read them and I don't really no why. I probably should however I have heard colleagues and compatriots discuss the subject and I think it's all fairly fanciful.
EDIT: If you want to learn a bit more about welfare and retraining racehorses in the UK let me know as I could probably rabbit on a bit more....
But, don't a majority of your horses run on turf (compared to US dirt tracks).
And, aren't pain medications more restricted in the UK circuits, so you really can't run a horse into the ground in the same way as US trainers can.
Also, what is your typical fitting up program? In the US, horses are typically stalled 23hrs and then either put on an exercise wheel (think a 70 foot diameter device that jogs them in a circle) or do a lap or two on the track. A relatively few trainers might swim horses. But, very seldom do you see trainers who take a horse out cross country for any distance or do hill work as part of a training program.
We don't use dirt at all here. There are a few all weather tracks for flat meetings but most racing is done on turf.
Drugs are extremely restricted here, even a whiff of it and they will come down hard. Especially after the last couple of years.
We have a different style of training here. Hardly any trainers are on track. Most are in the outlying countryside. The horse walker is a very important tool for us and helps make our lives much easier. We use hacking and hill work as an integral part of our training method. All gallops here are on some kind of gradient.
The horse walker is a very important tool for us
My experience in the US is that the 'horse walker' is actually used as a primary fitness training device. The horses are put into it and jogged one direction for about 10-15 minutes, then reversed and jogged the other direction for an equal amount of time. I've worked with trainers who used that as their PRIMARY fitness training for their entire string because it's free and there's no exercise rider fee associated with it. The only gallops are on the track and sometimes, for a fitted up horse, that is only when they need to record a work out.
To me, it's a miserable existence for any horse, but the trainer that I know who used exclusively jogging on a 'walker' specialized in training 2yos. Aside from the 'walker' they lived in their 12x12 stall 24/7. I found that especially sad, since young horses generally want to go out and 'play' so much more than mature horses.
Well I all I can say is that is not our primary fitness tool. You shouldn't over do the horse walker, it can damage their joints and feet with all the leaning into the circle.
The horse walker is used for light exercise, no more than a brisk walk and later on as the horse is fitter is often used as a warm up and warm down tool. Just as you would at the gym.
Does the horse have any idea that he is going round and round?
Oh yeah. They are clever bastards. You can often tell when it's time to retire a horse from racing because instead of carrying on the race when they get round the course and near to the stables they will try and pull up.
Big UK jumps fan here regularly attend race meetings and follow the bigger meets most weekends. Two questions for you if you don't mind 1. Have you trained any horse I may have heard of and 2. In your opinion what jumps horse would you regard as the most impressive, (for me personally its either big bucks or sprinter sacre)
Hey there! Lovely to see another jumps fan out there.
Not from my yard I'm afraid we are very small operation and train maybe fifteen horses at any one time all of which run at a pretty modest level but if anything improves I will let you know! My family has a long history in racing and chances are you are probably are familiar with some of my grandfathers horses...
I love Big Bucks, he was truly a star and will be sadly missed in his retirement, his record is astonishingly good particularly his World Hurdle runs. Sprinters Sacre is another cracker of a horse, He is the greatest chaser of our time and I only hope we get to see him again.
A current favourite of mine is Fingal Bay trained by Philip Hobbes who won me a few bob at the Cheltenham Festival!
What is a good resource to learn about racing in the UK if I wanted to attend as a tourist?
This website is run by the governing body of racing and has lots of good information on racecourse and fixtures.
Once you have decided on where you want to go I suggest visiting some of the individual racecourses website as they are much more detailed. If you are visiting London during summer I do suggest going to Windsor they do fantastic evening racing, generally on a Monday night where you can get to the racecourse on a boat that comes up the River Thames. Cool huh?
When it's clear your horse stands no chance, how much do you lay the horse on betfair?
Call me a man of integrity but I don't at all. Maybe that's because it's been so long since I had a favourite....
Would it be legal for you to bet?
It is legal for me to bet on one of my horses to win. I can't bet to lay a horse. I believe Jockeys can't bet at all.
Edit: Word change...
Is racing there seasonal or year-round?
Horse racing as a sport happens all year round however some elements of it are indeed seasonal.
For example Flat racing is predominately held over Summer, this is because these horses are generally smaller and appreciate 'faster' (read harder) ground.
During Winter we get most of the National Hunt meetings. National Hunt is the full name for jumps racing. Generally speaking horses are larger and as such need softer ground to prevent injuries and slow them down.
Where do they get jockeys from? Is it genetic? Do they have funny voices from getting their nads squished on the saddle every race?
From Ireland generally! A lot do come from a long line of jockeys or racing families in general.
Well other than being Irish I guess the funny voice could come from the pounding their bollocks take...
What is your favorite color?
Blue. I like Blue...
That is the correct answer, OP.
Now you must answer one more question to cross the bridge.
What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?
African or European?
I've never been to a horse racing track and what are some of the reasons for me to want to go? Have you ever felt like the horses weren't being treated fairly on or off the track? Final question is have you ever witnessed anybody on the track gamble to much that you started to feel it was running their life? Sorry about all the questions!
Horse racing is a fun and enjoyable pastime. It's great to get a lot of people together and go and have a few drinks and a couple of bets on horses, it really is exciting when there is money on it. It's a good fun day out and provided you budget like any other day out, it doesn't have to be really expensive either.
Welfare is a tough question to answer briefly but I will give it a shot and if their is more interest I can write up a larger response. I personally feel that the majority of trainers provide a very high level of welfare for their horses. We really do love the animals regardless of what people may say. Racehorses get treated especially well, better than most horses kept just for riding I would argue. We are incredibly strictly regulated on animal welfare issues and the punishments are severe for the very few people who do break the rules.
I personally am not a huge gambler, I have a little flutter every now and then but for the most part It don't gamble. I have not ever seen someone ruin their lives through betting but that's not to say it doesn't happen I'm sure.
Who makes the best sausages in Newmarket?
Dunno mate. I'm all about the lasagne.
Would it be advantageous for a midget to be a jockey?
Not at all! Jockey's are professional sportsmen in a job where if you can't make the weight you can't ride. Some jockey's have to be very light while others can afford to be heavier, it depends on their role as every horse generally requires a different weight based on their handicap rating (A whole other kettle of fish).
Jockeys not only have to be light but have to be incredibly fit and strong. It's really hard work to ride a horse in that style for possibly four miles. Most jockey's I know aren't just good jockeys they are athletes who are proficient at most sports. They really seem to love golf.
If I could go back in time I would love to have gone the career path of a jockey... their commitment to the sport is fantastic and they really put their bodies on the line.
I just hope some people understand the distances these jockeys travel just to do the job, they will do 2 meetings a day where possible, day in - day out. The physical exertion must be intense only to wake up and do it all over again.
It's important to note that during the day most of them work for a trainer as well. They will ride out maybe three or four lots in the morning before going racing sometimes.
What's your favorite track? Have you had a few of your horses run in the US? I know whenever I see a steeplechase race in the program, the overwhelming majority of horses in the race are from Great Britain.
My favourite to go to as a racegoer would have to be Newbury. The facilities are amazing and the racing is generally of a really high quality both on the flat and over the jumps. Professionally in recent years we have had some success at Plumpton down on the South Coast near Brighton, it's a nice little country course.
Not for my yard no sadly but I would love to come over for some of your racing. Some of my extended family take a few horses out there every now and then. It's every trainers dream to raid a Breeders Cup!
Hey man, no question, just keep on doing as you do :) Always a spot for someone in this industry.
I spent 17 years growing up at and living at Mick Channon's stables, my dad looked after some pretty amazing horses and raced around the world with them. I still occasionally attend race meets and keep an eye on everyone I know's progress.
Thanks! I grew up in the yard as well and I know what a weird kind of life it is. Great respect for Mick Channon, helps that I'm a Saints fan as well mind.
Not often, I do for fun every now and then and always over the Cheltenham Festival.
Sadly not often but sometimes a good tip comes along. Often I'm too sceptical to believe it.
Hi! I grew up around horse racing in Texas, as my dad was a racing steward, but sadly it went very quickly downhill in the early 90's (If I remember correctly, I was quite young!). My grandfather raised Quarter Horses to race and his trainer was a close family friend and actually the first African American jockey to win the All American here in the US. Since I am so disconnected from that world now (the horse my grandfather gave me after she sustained a shoulder injury is 30 now!) I was wondering if Quarter Horses were used in the UK at all.
I am also curious what most people use the retired horses for over there, because where I grew up, most of the horses were converted to work on the ranch or compete in rodeos, as apparently the lineage of my mare was quite brainy, and was pretty good at that stuff. (But along with that came the sassiest temperment!)
And another quick thing--I can still usually take my father to the track and make quite a few bucks by betting on whatever he tells me. He will look at the books for a bit, but mostly will just watch the horses when they walk in front of everyone before the race, and he says that you can "just tell who is feeling good" and who is going to win. I guess that comes from watching thousands of races, but I was wondering if that is something that you can tell as well? Or perhaps at least in your own horse? (When I did rodeo I could often tell how good my times would be by how my horse felt, but never picked up the ability to see it in other people's animals.)
Thanks so much for your time, and I wish you the best of luck in the future!
Very interesting to hear different experiences!
I am only familiar with thoroughbred racing in this country and as far as I'm aware there isn't any Quarter Horse racing. I can't say I even know anyone who keeps them at all!
Retired horses here go on to do a variety of things. Some go hunting, some just become riding horses. Some go on to do show jumping, dressage and eventing team chasing if you know a riding discipline there is probably a thoroughbred doing it! Recently showing has become ver popular with special classes dedicated at many major shows for retired and retrained race horses!
Your father sounds like a proper horseman. Id like to think I can spot a good one but not nearly as well as my father or my grandfather. It's a skill we all pick up the more we watch.
The Grand National seems like an absolutely absurd event to me. Would you say it enjoys broad support among the racing community?
I think it's a truly impressive spectacle that is the hardest test we throw at our toughest horse and jockey teams. I don't feel it's representative of the day to day life in the racing world however.
How do you guys go about training the horses? When do they start under saddle? What type of workouts? Do you guys do any training to make them less spooky? I had a retired race horse for a short time, he never actually got on the track.. But he was the most beautiful, spooky, and unsafe horse I've ever ridden. He was completely unpredictable :/ Fortunately he found a home that worked out for him:)
The training of a Racehorse is a long and fairly difficult process that starts even before they are born. They are literally bred for a specific kind of race, wether or not that end up doing that is something else. Some flat horses are started as yearlings so just over a year old generally but national hunt horses generally start much later perhaps left alone until they are two or three.
With a young horse you always start out with short amounts of light exercise. Over working them will break them down and no one wants that. They will be lunged a lot at first and then go on short trots with a very light rider on board. You build up feed and exercise until they start to develop appropriate muscle and just hope to god nothing goes wrong. Some flat horses race as two year olds whereas national hunt horses have to wait until they are four before they can start jumping.
They are the most wonderful animals and they just need to be taught in just the right way by just the right people, especially when it comes to retraining and rehoming.
Who's going to win the Derby this year?
God I wish I knew. Aidan O'Brien's probably got a good shot with his thing. That man gets some class horses.
Do you think that there is too much emphasis on the Cheltenham Festival in Anglo-Irish steeplechasing? I'm just an American jumps fan but I've noticed that British horses seem to race just a couple times and then take several months off to stay "fresh" for the festival. It reminds me of the Breeders Cup over here - fans and trainers focusing on a few days and ignoring the rest of the season.
I think that the main issue is a lack of top flight racing. For a horse running in the Queen Mother Chase at Cheltenham there are maybe only two or three races suitable for them to run in per season at a fair level. The same problem effects the flat of course at the highest level. But I think there is some truth in trainers trying to protect and kept horses healthy for these high return races.
Last year, there were some interesting articles in the press about how horse racing was a dying sport (for example, here and here). How does it look from your perspective?
Also, how has Arab money affected the sport?
Horse racing is the second most attended sport in the UK, we also hold something like 6 of the highest 10 sporting fixtures in the UK each year. However the average age of the racegoer is getting higher and higher, at a higher level than I there must be a push to encourage a younger audience to attend racing.
Racing in this country is coming under attack from decreasing in funding by the betting industry. Every year we receive less money to go towards prize money and such due to an archiac system called the Levy which is supposed to provided the sport with a proportion of bookmakers profits. Improvements look to be being made in this are as the Government, I believe, is pushing to regulate the betting industry differently allowing online betting in particular to be properly taxed and the money collected.
It's tough for trainers right now. There aren't as many trainers around than there were in 2007. The recession hit us hard as unsurprisingly the first cost most people shed was a racehorse in training. Ultimately though the situation does start to look like its improving, people are buying horses again and yards are starting to be a bit larger each year.
Arab money has changed the game. In a few short years they have pretty much dominated the flat. The Irish, particularly Coolmore Stud still produce some of the best horses in the world but they can't match the purchasing power of men such as Shiekh Mohammed of Dubai and Khalid Abdulluh.
The next one to look out for is China. Racing is becoming very popular there and gambling isn't even legal on mainland china. If China liberalises at the rate it has been it may only be a few years before they regulate the betting industry and everything really kicks off.
Thank you so much for the reply!
If you have a minute, I have another question or two.... How often do horses race internationally, such as coming from the UK to race in the US or vice-versa? What about going to the Middle East? Also, are there many horses from South America in the UK racing circuit?
Our top flight horses travel all over the world to contest titles. This is called "raiding" and foreigners come to England to do it too! The Breeders Cup is something every trainer wants to win. As for the Middle East the main draw is the money. It is insane. Next Saturday is the Dubai World Cup held at Meydan. They built this huge racing complex way out in the desert and hold loads of expensive racing at night to avoid the heat. Pretty surreal compared to here. I don't know of any South American horses running under rules and I'm not certain why they wouldn't. I suppose they don't have any good enough to warrant the expense of travelling over.
I was curious about the South American horses because a few years back there seemed to be a bunch of them on the American circuit from Argentina (that American owners had purchased). I think it had to do with the dollar being so strong and the economy in Argentina being so bad.
Ahh. I think they race on dirt over in Argentina so they would be better suited for American racing.
Where are the races held? What are the most popular meets? Is "meets" the right word?
Racing is held all over the UK Some of the most popular meetings are Royal Ascot, the Derby Meeting at Epsom and Glorious Goodwood on the Flat. Thousands of people attend these three or four day long meetings every year and it's really quite a sight!
Over the Jumps the most popular are the Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National meeting at Aintree in Liverpool. The Cheltenham Festival is a personal favourite of mine as the atmosphere is truly electric, around 60,000 people attend each day.
Edit: Whoops! Yes meets is a fine phrase. More commonly people will say meetings, fixtures or races.
roughly what percentage of races are still fixed?
I have no idea to be honest. It's probably very very low, it's a hard thing to pull off and the punishments are very strict. Life long bans and potential criminal prosecution.
A few do attempt it of course, a big ring got taken down a few years ago. It's a shame that this is an issue that press fixate upon really as on a day to day basis you don't even think about it within the Industry.
Did you ever get to work with / alongside Kauto Star? If so, just how awesome was he in person.
His last King George win brought me to tears, such an amazing, beautiful horse!
Sadly no but I was always a great fan of his. Great looking animal he was!
Nope. If it moves badly it doesn't race. Fluid, comfortable movement is one of the most important things in horse welfare.
Have u ever met John McCririck and is he a douchebag ?
Not a face to face introduction but have attended several events he's been at.
Can confirm. Is a douchebag.
Do you get to go to the races with the horses you train?
I try to go with as many as I can, either to lead up and groom or to saddle up. Sadly I don't have as much time as I used to but I still make all the effort to go. Especially for my favourites.
If you make it to Brighton, there's a load of redditors who meet up several times a week.
BTW, Where's Shergar??
Fantastic! I quite frequently go to Fontwell and Plumpton which are both nearby (kinda) haven't raced at Brighton though. I will have to alert the redditors next time I'm there...
I will forward that question to Findus for you. They are good at hiding horses.
Were you just at the gold cup in Cheltenham? My wife is from (and her parents still live) about five minutes drive from the track :)
Sadly not the Gold Cup! I went on Thursday for the World Hurdle and it was a really great day. Cheltenham is one of the best courses in the country and I really love that part of the Cotswolds.
In respect to training under saddle, what do the horses need to learn beyond the very basics of carrying a rider? In other words, what are some of the subtleties of a good racehorse's training?
A lot of the time it's basic riding skills, shortening and quickening stride etc but the real aim is to get them to respond as well to the rider as possible. They have to respond to being asked to quicken or shorten. Ultimately each horse is different and generally the rider changes a lot to suit the horse
Do you worry about having them change leads during certain sections of a race? With stride length, is it all based off rein cues since the jockey doesn't really have any leg (or seat!) aids to work with? Thank you!
To be perfectly honest by this point I'm just glad I have got them there, it's the jockey's job to make sure he gives them a proper race. If you watch a race you will see the jockey uses his entire body when quickening, they still use their heels as much as they can!
So it's basically all about speed control? Could you explain how jockeys signal for the changes?
You can see as they come round the corner the jockey is holding his hands in a way that the bit just makes contact with the horse and holds it steady. When they ask them to go faster they break that contact and the horse no longer feel the bit and are physically encouraged by the jockeys movement.
what was the most expensive batch of horse seed you know of being sold?
what's your most gruesome story? i've heard some pretty horrific stuff from botched castrations/surgeries on horses.
By horse seed do you mean semen? If so in the Thoroughbred Bloodstock Industry Artificial Insemination is banned. Only natural coverings are permitted. Race horses are still crazy expensive though. People can spend millions of pounds on one horse.
As for most gruesome I don't have any really awful ones about horses. We have had some nasty falls and one went through a barbed wire fence once but nothing truly disgusting.
I have seen someones foot bone come through their riding boot once after falling off. That was pretty gross.
Likewise never seen any botched geldings or surgeries. But they do happen, I like to think the vet we use is pretty good so I hope it won't happen anytime soon!
Only live coverage is allowed? Fascinating. Why is that the case? So I take it that there is a limited amount of bloodlines unless you actually ship the horse out of country/continent?
A few reasons.
One, limits the number of stock from a single stallion. AI decreases the cost of covering so semen would be more readily available. You would end up with thousands of foal in the same year by the same sire. Thats a quick way to fuck up your bloodlines.
Two, why would they change to it? Now all the selling power is held by those who it would affect most. The studs which own the stallions make millions of pounds a year in coverings, if they saturate (literally in this case) the market they will make loses.
Three, racing is an international sport, if one country did it and no one followed suit very quickly they would find themselves isolated with a horse population that couldn't compete abroad.
As someone from Louisville, Kentucky, have you ever been to Churchill Downs? If so, what is your opinion on the track? It's one of the most known tracks worldwide because of the Kentucky Derby.
Sadly no! But I am visiting Kentucky this time next year so let me know what I should do when I visit.
I would definitely go to see Mammoth Cave, about a 2 hour drive south from Louisville to Cave City. If you're into drinking, go on the Bourbon Trail. Also, if you are coming this time next year, I would definitely go see Thunder over Louisville. It's the worlds largest firework display. Edit: I should add that Thunder is 2 weeks before the Kentucky Derby.
No questions, just wanted to thank you for the incredible work that you do. I'm a vet in the US and though I no longer work on horses due to a bum knee, when I did it was an honor to work on these animals that have been refined by centuries of breeding and training into some of the most phenomenal athletes on earth. I have certainly seen my share of shady behind-the-scenes actions but the overwhelming majority of horses are treated ethically and well. I have also had the pleasure of owning several off-the-track horses that have been a pleasure to ride on the trail and over fences, and all had much better minds than TBs are usually given credit for. I know the work that you and those like you do has directly contributed to the level of excellence present in bloodstock today. I've never been to the UK but if I do I shall certainly make an effort to attend a day of races.
Thanks for the kind words!
What happens to mediocre horses after they're through racing?
We try to rehome them just as well as the best ones. A lot of owners really care about their horses and take them back for their retirement. If nothing can be done sometimes they have to be put down which is always sad.
Do ya'll eat the horses when they are too old to race?
What do you think I ate for dinner? Pizza?
(It was Pizza....)
What kind of jobs are there in the racing industry? I have grown up with horses and would love to work with them professionally but unsure what is available really. Do you need racing experience to become involved in the racing world? Exciting to see a fellow Brit here :)
My best advice is find your local trainer and offer to work on weekends. They may pay you but they might not. If you're lucky they will give you a chance.
Hey I am an equine veterinary student over at Cornell. Any information on opportunities for vets/vet students working or interning by you would be wonderful. Thanks!
I don't really know what to say about interning advice. Especially for an American but I think it helps especially in racing if your vet knows a lot about what the horse is doing day to day. You have to have a good grasp of how racing works.
Whats the most money someones ever made on a horse you've trained in one race. In U.S. dollars and pounds.
Oh god not a lot I'm afraid. The prize money here is pretty shocking to France and America.
One of our recent winners won £1,947 apparently that's $3,240.06 that's fairly standard going for a low level race in this country.
How much pressure is there for the horses to get results? If you had a severe patch of not winning many races does this affect the finances of the yard?
Everyone wants their horse to perform at the height of it's ability so it's tough. Hopefully you have owners who understand it's just a patch and that fortune will turn round in the long run.
Yards as a general rule of thumb don't really on prize money to fund themselves, it does however draw in new owners!
So whats the bread and butter of a decent yard then?
The brad and butter is training fees through a daily cost per horse plus extras.
One or two wealthy owners who love the sport and who have three or more horses each are what every yard really needs. These owners are hopefully loyal and will use you year after year, topping up their stock. They are the ones who keep racing afloat.
Thanks for doing this! I'm a big fan of horse racing and was wondering, what should I be looking at when placing my bet on a certain horse?. Days off? Avg class ? High speed? Etc. in other words , what is the most important stat?
Form is the big one. Form over a comparable distance with comparable ground conditions. You can start to make educated guesses each way after that if you start to take in other variables like equipment etc.
The going has a massive impact from my experience, if the horse doesn't run well on a certain ground its a no-no.
When they state in the paper that they are wearing headgear or blinkers etc. do you think this can make a significant difference?
I couldn't agree more, going is vitally important however generally speaking when we run a horse on different ground than normal we are hoping it will overcome it.
Headgear is a really useful tool, sometimes they go really well. Other times it has no effect. Sometimes the effects deteriorate over time. Generally if one of mine is wearing head gear for the first time it means we have worked it at home and it's worked really well.
What does it take to train a good racehorse?
Im yet to have a good racehorse, maybe I could let you know in around 30-40 years? I might find one by then...
But seriously some guys have a really good strategy, Nicky Henderson is always right up there on the Jumps side and Aidan O'brien recently has been incredibly good. I think the trick is to lots of wealthy owners!
hi,I was a part time worker of japanese horse racing track.it was the easiest and well paid job I have ever gotten. do you have any ideas to improve japanese horse racing industry?or do you know any good japanese jockeys or horses?
Hey there, I don't really know much about Japanese racing apart from it's got one of the best prize money returns! I think we can learn a lot more from you than you could from us.
I've won the last two grand nationals with 100 to 1 winners from random tips off strangers on the internet. So random stranger do you have a tip for me?
I am not your random stranger my friend. Go with your system, pick a long shot for the national. Anything could win it.
Ohh boy. I've been wanting to ask so many questions about your industry but wasnt quite sure what sub to go to. Thanks for doing this ama.A bunch of questions here. Hope you can clear things up for me.
How do trainers even make money. Sometimes the odds of a horse winning are upwards of 20/1 when the prize money is usually around 10k-20k(?). factor in the logistical, training and acquiring costs and seems like a losers game to train a horse (?)
How do you even judge how fast a horse will be when you go to three auction?
Hey man! Hope I can help.
Trainers charge the owners of horses a training fee. This is generally a daily charge plus extras . Sometimes it's very hard to make money as a trainer, a lot of people don't turn a profit training racehorses many just do it for the fun and the lifestyle.
Generally breeding, if the mare and stallion are good the horse has a better chance of being good. Ideally you compare the horse to a full sibling however this is rare and you generally end up comparing them to half brother/sister on the maternal side.
What's the best breed? Both for racing and in general.
Well thoroughbreds. It's the only professional racing in this country and I think they look just great.
What happens to foals who don't make the cut as racing horses?
We try to rehome and retrain as many unraceable thoroughbreds as possible. However if nothing else can be done some are sadly put down.
When jockeys change weights, do they have to make up additional weights? If so, how are the additional weights attached on?
They do indeed need to carry more weight. This done in the form of weight plates, these are made of lead and added to a special weight cloth worn under the saddle.
What kind of preparation does the horse go through the day and night before a race? I've always wondered do horses ever have a terrible nights sleep or a bad travel to the course and that causes them to under-perform. Whats the most common reason a horse under-performs in your opinion?
There is a few things that may happen. If the race is far away the horse may travel to the racecourse the night before. This is to allow it to recover to be in best condition as long travel is taxing to the horse.
If it's at home I will give it less bulky feed at it's morning feed. Just high energy protein generally. We will then jump in the box and drive to the racecourse to arrive a few hours before the race. I think travel is a consideration when considering under performing horses.
Most common reasons for underperformance... I'd have to say the ground. If the ground isn't to the liking of the horse it can have a real effect on the way they run the race.
When I was in Newmarket visiting some of the tracks I was told that horse racing began to decline in the community when corruption with gambling and the treatment of jockeys were made aware. Due to these dilemmas, the community no longer firmly supported horse racing because it did not contribute to the steady state of the community that they initially sought. Is there truth to this? Can you further explain? Thanks!
I think that maybe historically that could be the case but less so in this day and age. Nowadays corruption is rare and much easier to detect, staff welfare is very important and they have their own unions which continually lobby for better conditions.
Is operant conditioning used in training, i.e. race with other horses and reward the horse when it wins?
I wouldn't say it's used as a training method. If one of mine wins I always give it a little something extra and a few days off.
Do you rent out a house in Harborne?
You ever hang out in Red Lodge?
Does the industry believe that sheikh Mohammed's investigation, that coincidentally cleared him of any knowledge of what was going on, was genuine?
Who knows? I doubt Shiekh Mohammed would have actually turned to his trainers and said "Use drugs bro." I would imagine that the environment of pressure he puts on those who work for him is so great they feel like they have no choice.
And that Dubai airlines flight full of drugs... that was just a coincidence then?
Not at all, the drugs scandal has stuck very firmly to Shiekh Mohammed. He might well be guilty but I wouldn't know either way!
Do your racehorses piss frequently, or is it just that when they do have to piss, they really have to piss and can't hold it in?
Aww man. They piss a lot. And it's not pleasant either. Did you know, horses are unable to walk and piss. They just can't do it.
Horses like to piss at irritating times, unless of course we are being dope tested and they will absolutely refuse for hours.
Did you know, horses are unable to walk and piss.
I don't think that I could either; it's an either/or thing for me.
You should try it. it looks hilarious.
Odd question, but have you ever had any luck teaching them to do their business in one particular place, like a dog, or do they go pretty much anywhere? I worked at a stable once, and there was an old stallion who would only "go" in one corner of his stall...
Horses are weird. There is no method. Some are just mental.
Hi! You answered in another question that the horses know they're going round in circles, they know where the stables are and so on, but how well do they understand the concept of racing - i.e. how well do they know that the point is to be ahead of all the other horses at a certain place?
I often see horses that idle in front and then lose when they could have won, or that catch up on the run in but then don't seem to want to go past.
Yeah some are better suited to different kinds of races. Some like to be in front all the way and hate to have other horses compete with them. Other like to slowly build from the rear of the field and then burst forward using their turn of foot. Others just plod along at the same pace and hit the line just right.
I think some horses do know where the line is but this could be more to do with body language of the jockey than them actually seeing the post.
I'd love to get involved in the racing world, but I have bad allergies so working with the horses is kind of out of the question. I should come out of university with a decent degree though (although unrelated), do you have any suggestions for what I could do in the mean time to get involved? I study nearby to Leicester Racecourse, if that helps.
Maybe this will help?
My father trained racehorses for many years back in the 80's and 90's in the US, even one Kentucky Derby Winner, Gato del Sol and he tells me that the horses that race these days are simply inferior animals to the ones he trained due to excessive inbreeding. What's your take on his view?
It's not an unfair view. Genetic conditions in conformation are more common now then they were twenty years ago. However put simply horses that are healthy are superior. We can see this through examples such as Frankel who is rated higher than any other horse ever.
Where do you get the leprechauns used in horse racing? and how do you coax them to ride horses for you?
I generally find them hanging around rainbows actually. I offer them gold.
I'm probably too late, and if I am that's fine, but I'll try anyways. I'm a horsey person in the UK and I'm interested in how hard it is to get into the industry? I'm a 17 year old girl and am interested in maybe getting into racing.
Hello there! No not too late, I'm trying to respond to as much as possible for as long as people ask.
At 17 there is hope for you yet! For you the easiest way in is to attend the British Racing School. This course will teach you everything you need to know about becoming a stable lad. They will even organise your placement and from there you may have a job. They offer a similar course at the Northern Racing College in Doncaster I believe.
This may not be for you and that's fine, if you just want to do it a little bit contact your local trainer and ask if it's possible to do some weekend work or whatever suits your schedule. Things always need doing around the stable and if you are lucky they may train you up further.
If you have any more questions please ask away!
I had a biochem prof once who passed on stories from a buddy in the industry, that racehorses used to be (and maybe still are) used to test out all sorts of (illegal) performance-enhancing drugs before they were tried on athletes. This was both to test if the drug (or other doping method) enhanced performance and also to ensure that it wouldn't be picked up on screening. Is there any truth to these stories?
Not from my experience. I might ask around and find out though.
Is harness racing popular in England? My understanding is it is a uniquely American invention (with some tracks in Canada). I'm curious about the differences between Standardbreeds and thoroughbreeds from a trainer's point of view.
I don't think it exists at all. We only really have TB racing here and I'm not qualified to comment on standardbreeds.
If you're ever near NYC and have time, check out the Harness Racing Hall of Fame and Museum in Goshen, NY. I went last year and had a great time. It's a very well done facility and free to the general public!
Thanks If I'm ever in that part of the world I will!
If I could train a horse to run faster alone than if he had a jockey would that be allowed? Also, 100 duck sized horses or 1 horse sized duck?
Sadly no. All horses under the rules of racing must have a jockey onboard.
I answered this already but it's one horse sized duck. I'd like the eggs.
I'm involved in horse welfare and rescue in the USA. Here, owners and trainers rarely make provisions for horses that fail to race well or horses that can no longer race. They are commonly shipped to slaughter in Canada. Is it any different in the UK?
Here in the USA, horses are raced as 2 and 3 year olds, despite the fact that no horse is skeletally mature before age 5 or 6. (For perspective for non horse people, a 2 year old horse would be about 13 human years old.) Is it the same in the UK?
Finally, have you read anything written by the late Dick Francis? How realistic are his portrayals of the UK racing world, in your opinion?
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