chapter 5 THE THOROUGHBRED SOME interesting FACTS It is estimated by geneticists that the percentage variation in horses’ racing performance that can be attributed to genetics is between 9% and 49%.
The rest is down to environmental factors such as training, nutrition and, of course, luck. R A C I N G t h e I R I S H way 29 Twins are rare in horses and though they can survive into adulthood they are usually too delicate to be good racehorses.
Kayu, the dam of four-time Irish St Leger winner Vinnie Roe was a twin, though she never raced.
Newborn foals range in weight from 70 Pounds (31.8 KG) to 120 Pounds (54.5 KG) at birth.
Foals are suckled by their dam for usually the first six months of life before they are weaned though this can be done earlier if necessary.
With the right nutrition young thoroughbreds grow quickly, attaining 90% of c h a p t e r 5 Weaned foals FOALS The gestation period in horses is generally 11 months but can vary up or down and sometimes lasts a full 12 months depending on various factors such as weather, environmental conditions and nutrition. Vinnie Roe 30 — A horse’s skeleton keeps growing until it is five years old.
However, they can still appear to be growing by putting on muscle mass after this time.
An adult horse has 36 teeth: 12 Incisors or front teeth, 12 premolar and 12 molar teeth.
Some horses (most male horses) also have canine teeth and ‘Wolf’ teeth, which are small premolars.
Horses need to have their molar teeth filed or ‘rasped’ to prevent uneven wear which can cause discomfort in their cheeks.
It is possible to tell a horse’s age by looking at its teeth.
The bit is placed in the space between the incisor and premolar teeth.
Fully mature racehorses weigh from approximately 880 Pounds (400 KG) to 1430 Pounds (650KG). In comparison to other animals of a similar size, racehorses have a far superior aerobic capacity, have a remarkable oxygen carrying capacity, high maximum haemoglobin concentration and cardiac output.
They also have a very high muscle mass to body-weight ratio, approx 55%.
This is much greater than other breeds of horses and partly explains why they are the fastest breed of horse.
A horse’s genetic set-up is different from humans in that its body cells contain 32 pairs of Chromosomes whereas a human has 23 pairs.
An adult racehorse has 205 bones in its body.
The average stride length of a racehorse at the gallop is 4.5 -7.2 Metres, (14.76 – 23.6 Feet).
However, some of the great horses in history have reportedly had much greater stride lengths than that.
The great US racehorse Man O War, Man O War c h a p t e r their Champion in 1919/20, was reported to have had a stride length of 28 feet: that’s an amazing 8.5 metres.
Every step that a 1000 pound galloping racehorse takes puts 1800 lbs of pressure on each leg.
The Heart Rate of a racehorse ranges from approx 28-52 Beats Per Minute at rest up to 210-250 Beats Per Minute at maximal rate.
A horse’s heart weighs approximately 1% of it’s total body mass.
The average weight of a racehorse’s heart is 8.5 pounds and it continues growing until the horse is four years old.
Again, some of the great horses in history have had their heart size measured after death and it was much larger than that.
One of the greatest stallions in history, Eclipse, reportedly had a heart weighing 14 pounds.
Secretariat, The Champion American horse of 1972-73 had a heart that was estimated to be 5 R A C I N G t h e I R I S H way 31 22 pounds weight on autopsy, an enormous size.
Obviously, the bigger the heart, the greater the amount of blood that can be pumped around the body, the more oxygen that can be provided to cells, the faster the horse can run.
It’s not always as simple as that though.
If it was, then racehorse owners would scan the heart size of all their horses they would like to buy and would only buy horses with physically large hearts.
The notion of ‘heart’ in a horse is about more than just physiology, it’s the toughness and willingness to go through the pain barrier to win.
That capacity can’t be measured with a medical instrument! A galloping racehorse weighing 500 kgs will pump the equivalent of 10 times it’s total blood volume through its heart each minute.
This could be as much as 250 litres of blood.
The volume of air that a horse moves from the nostrils to the lungs per minute ranges from 80 litres at rest to 2500 litres when galloping at full speed.
Air moves through the Upper Respiratory Tract (URT) by the creation of pressure gradients between the outside atmosphere and the inside of the airways. c h a p t e r Wind operation This broad phrase can refer to a number of veterinary interventions used to aid a horse that is not getting enough ‘petrol to the engine’.
Frequently, the cause of a wind obstruction is the left side of the horse’s larynx which suffers from weakness (neuropathy or hemiplagia) and this causes a noise (usually a whistling sound) to be made in the windpipe upon inspiration.
A ‘Hobday’ operation removes parts of the larynx that is obstructing the windpipe.
Strangely, the right side of the larynx is rarely affected by this condition. 5 The other principal wind related cause of poor performance in racehorses is the displacement of the soft palate while galloping.
A horse that does this even momentarily cuts off air supply to the windpipe and will hinder its ability to sustain its speed.
Horses are sometimes fitted with a tongue-tie in an effort to stabilise the relationship between the tongue and the roof of the mouth to prevent displacement of the soft palate.
Again, surgical procedures to tighten the palate are used to help remedy this.
It is estimated by geneticists that the percentage variation in horses’ racing performance that can be attributed to genetics is between 9% and 49%.
The rest is down to environmental factors such as training, nutrition and, of course, luck.
The left-hand side of a horse is called the ‘near’ side and the right-hand side is called the ‘off’ side. BIRTHDAY All horses born in the northern hemisphere become one year old on New Year’s Day each year no matter what date they were born on.
Therefore, it is an advantage especially for flat horses that run as two and three-year-olds to be born as early in the year as possible and therefore have a maturity age advantage over foals born in April or May.
However, a good horse is still a good horse whenever it is born and foals born later in the year will, in the end, catch up on their more precocious counterparts if they are of equal ability. Hands Horses are measured in ‘Hands.’ One hand is equal to four inches or 10.16 cm.
The ‘hand’ increases in increments of a quarter: ie 1, 2, 3.
A horse is measure from the ground to the top of its withers.
The average racehorse measures 63 inches, 15. 3 hands high or 1.62m approx.
This is the average height of a 13-year-old human. 32 R A C I N G t h e I R I S H way Example of a canter: sea the stars Right Fore/Left Hind Leg together Suspension Left Fore/Right Hind Leg together c h a p t e r MOVEMENT The four gaits of the horse are walk, trot, canter, gallop.
Each one has a different rhythm called a beat, basically the sound made during one full stride. TROT The trot is a 2-beat movement, each one involving both a fore and hind leg diagonal to each other, then a period of suspension when all four legs are off the ground before the opposite fore and hind leg make contact with the ground.
The horse literally ‘springs’ from one diagonal movement to the other.
Example: Right Fore/Left Hind Leg together.
Suspension Left Fore/Right Hind Leg together. CANTER The canter is a 3-beat movement with a period of suspension after each full stride.
In speed it is the in-between gait of the trot and gallop and involves aspects of each of those stride patterns.
It begins with a hind leg landing on the ground before the other hind leg and the diagonal front leg land in unison.
The final movement involves the opposite front leg landing which provides propulsion into the air. Example: Left Hind Leg.
Right Hind Leg/Left Fore Leg.
Right Fore Leg.
Suspension. 5 WALK The walk is naturally the slowest and involves a 4-beat movement.
Example: Right Hind Leg Right Fore Leg.
Left Hind Leg.
Left Fore Leg. GALLOP It is only since the development of photography that a horse’s stride at the gallop has been fully understood.
In 1878 Englishman Edweard Muybridge photographed a horse at a gallop using 12 cameras placed along a 20 foot strip and captured the sequence of foot-falls for the first time.
He actually did this to settle a R A C I N G t h e I R I S H way 33 bet for American industrialist and horse enthusiast Leland Stanford.
He believed that there was a point during a horse’s gallop when all four legs were off the ground.
Others disagreed with this theory (called ‘Unsupported Transit’) and it was impossible to tell with the naked eye. c h a p t e r Example of a gallop sequence: Left Hind Leg Right hind Leg Left Fore Leg Right Fore leg Suspension Lead/Leading Leg This refers to the front leg which is furthest forward during a gallop or canter.
A horse is on its right lead when the right foreleg is the last one to leave the ground before the period of suspension leading onto the next stride.
And vice-versa for the left foreleg. The positions of the main organs of a horse Lungs Kidney Large Intestines (Colon) 5 So, Stanford hired renowned photographer Muybridge to set about proving that he was correct.
And he was.
Up until this time, paintings depicting horses at the gallop had their stride pattern completely wrong, giving them a gait which Muybridge proved was unnatural.
The gallop is the fastest of the horse’s gaits.
It is a 4-beat movement that differs from the canter in speed and in that each leg moves individually (producing the four beats), there is no diagonal hind-leg/ fore leg unison of movement.
There is also a period of suspension in the air at the end of the full stride. Oesophagus Heart Stomach Liver Cecum SPEED The top speed of a racehorse is 47 miles per hour, making it the second fastest animal on earth behind the cheetah and racehorses have a jockey on their back! However, a racehorse cannot sustain this top speed for longer than a quarter mile, 2 furlongs or 400 metres and they slow down dramatically at this speed.
However, while running at just below top speed of 44 miles per hour a racehorse can sustain this level of speed for an amazing one and a half miles, and is capable of clocking 2 Minutes 24 Seconds for this distance, approximately the world record time.
This is under ideal fast ground conditions on a dead level surface with 9 stone (126 pounds) on its back.
As we know, we don’t often get those conditions in Ireland! Unlike in athletics, however, there are no official world record times in racing, because racecourses throughout the world are different sizes and shapes with different surfaces (which can be affected by weather) and horses carry varying weights in races. 34 R A C I N G t h e I R I S H way Points of the horse Mane Crest Withers Girth Back Flank Loins Point of Croup — he former Chief Executive of the Irish National Stud in Kildare, John Clarke, knows only too well that Sea The Stars is a rarity.
Yet he represents the dream of the breeding world. “You need luck as well as good blood lines to produce a horse like Secretariat.
It’s a funny thing.
For instance, Secretariat has a half-sister who looks like a potential winner.
But he also has a half-sister who couldn’t outrun a fat man going downhill.” Helen Tweedy Helen Tweedy was the owner of Secretariat, who won American Triple Crown in 1973 (Kentucky T Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes).
Her experience serves to emphasise that there is no such thing as a certainty in racing.
There is a long journey to travel from a foal being born to it reaching the racecourse, if it ever does.
It is all too easy to forget the time and endeavour that has been invested into that horse before it arrives FLAT Weaning Although the natural foaling time for horses is in the summer, the convention that all thoroughbreds share birth dates of January 1, regardless of when they are born, has encouraged people to produce foals early in a year (after an 11-month gestation period) so that they are not at a competitive disadvantage.
The day after a foal is born – anywhere between February and June usually – they are brought out to a field for a half hour and led up and down.
For the first week they are out on their own, after which they are put together in clusters of four or five, ensuring that the groups are all the same age.
John Clarke’s successor as Chief Executive of the Irish National Stud is John Osborne, whose father, Michael was Manager there for 12 years. “As my father used to say, a foal is born at one-tenth of the adult body weight but a half of its height.
So it’s tall and gangly.
Nature has designed it that way, that the foaling process lasts no more than an hour and that the foal can gallop as quickly as its mother within an hour of being born.
That was to protect it from predators.” The next step is to wean them from the mares around August or September.
Any foals born in May wouldn’t be weaned until November.
By this stage, the foals are around six months old and have established a fair degree of independence, 38 R A C I N G t h e I R I S H way Throughout this time, the foals are wormed on a monthly basis, while a farrier comes in once a month to do their shoes.
Sales You have to decide what foals are going to what sales very early on.
Foal sales take place in Goffs, Tattersalls and Doncaster in November, and with closing date for entries around April, the foals are just a few weeks old when the call is made. breaking away to play.
By the time they are three weeks old they are already mimicking the dam by nibbling at solid food.
They get supplementary feed along the way to make sure they have a good solid diet before the milk, which is their primary source of nutrition, is taken from them.
The weaning is done gradually, with two mares being taken from a group and continuing that until the quietest mare is left with four or five foals and then suddenly they are on their own.
The mourning period is very short.
By the next day, neither mare nor foal will even know a separation took place. c h a p t e r “It’s difficult because they can change a lot” admits Andrew Hughes, General Manager of Thistle Farm, in the parish of Danesfort outside Kilkenny. “We just have to make the decision about which sales they will go to depending on how forward they are or not at that stage.” Around 20% of the foal crop is generally offered at these sales, ensuring that there is an immediate return from some of the investment.
There is a band of investors called pin-hookers who buy foals with the distinct purpose of making a profit at the yearling sales. Yearling sales take place between August and October at the aforementioned venues, with Deauville also a popular venue.
There is a level of investor who will purchase at these sales, break the yearlings and then sell them as two-year-olds in training at breeze-up sales, but the majority of buyers are agents representing trainers or owners.
There is an intensive preparation process, where the yearlings are trained to be presented.
At first they are walked either manually or on mechanical walkers, building up from five minutes a day to an hour, getting them fitter and developing their muscles.
The next step is to start lunging them around a ring which continues that strengthening process.
Lunging is the first step to opening up the lines of communication with a horse.
It is a critical method of education as well as helping to build up fitness and strength.
It is also the first step in creating correct movement in a horse.
Conformation will always play an important part in how a 6 R A C I N G t h e I R I S H way 39 — NATIONAL HUNT In Ireland, the first races for national hunt horses are three-year-old hurdles around September, but they tend to feature converts from the flat scene more than the traditional national hunt horses. c h a p t e r 6 “We start by sitting on them in the box and when they get used to that we take them to the lunge ring” reveals Hughes. “Then we drive them for four or five weeks up and down the road and then we get them on the three-furlong sand gallop we have had custom-built here. “We start with the trot and then into a canter.
Then we teach them to canter upsides other horses.
We don’t push them hard.
It’s not about galloping, or speed at that stage, it’s about educating them and strengthening them up.“Again, everyone does it differently.
We like to get them away to the trainers early, by the beginning of March, but others could have them at home until April or May.
If a trainer finds the horse to be still a bit weak they’ll come back to us for a month or so maybe, where the process is continued.” It is time-consuming and arduous but the results can be very rewarding.
Once the horse has moved to the trainers though, it’s up to them. “Traditional national hunt horses are slower to mature and you need to give them that time to grow as they have a bigger frame”, says Osborne. “They are brought along gradually, they’re not force-fed.
They’re out at grass really until they grow into themselves.” Most national hunt horses are castrated as yearlings, and at the latest as two-year-olds.
They would begin with a bit of handling at two but the breaking process might not begin until they are three.
Sales Animals are sold as foals and yearlings by speculators looking to make a quick profit the following year or two, but most national hunt sales are for 40 R A C I N G t h e I R I S H way three and four-year-olds or store horses.
National hunt sales usually take place in February, August and November with the three and four-year-olds usually tagged as unbroken stock.
The success of some French-bred national hunt horses has put some pressure on Irish breeders to bring their animals along more quickly, as the French have theirs jumping by three.
So it is clear that this is an ongoing process that will continue to evolve, as breeders try to find that crucial edge. c h a p t e r 6 R A C I N G t h e I R I S H way 41 c h a p t e r 7 42 — 2m1f ballinrobe Facts about ballinrobe It is located 30 miles from Galway, 140 from Dublin, 159 from Cork and 186 from Belfast.
The then apprentice, Danny Mullins had the best winning percentage of any Flat jockey at the course in 2009, with a 24% strike rate that would have seen his followers earn €20 euro for every €1 invested.
Dorans Pride, a former Cheltenham Stayers’ Hurdle winner and twice placed in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, won his first race at Ballinrobe in 1993.
He went on to accumulate €1m in prize money.
Traverse, the horse owned by racing fanatic Hector Ó hEochagáin for the TV series Only Fools Buy Horses, also won its first race here.
Ballinrobe has an average attendance of 2,058 for its nine meetings. A slightly elevated right-handed oval of approximately one mile and one furlong for Flat and National Hunt, with a run-in of two and a half furlongs.
There are four hurdles and six fences on the circuit.
With a bend on both the five and six furlong courses, a high draw is advantageous.
Racing has been held on the current course since 1921, although the area has been hosting races since 1773. Contact Details Ballinrobe Racecourse, Ballinrobe, Co.
T: 094 954 1811 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.ballinroberacecourse.ie Course Characteristics The course itself is a slightly elevated right-handed oval of about one mile and one furlong which features competitive Flat and National Hunt (jump) racing.
Location Situated 2 km from the town of Ballinrobe in Co.
Mayo. 50 R A C I N G t h e I R I S H way National Hunt & Flat “Mainly a summer track, it’s very quick as usually the ground is good.
When it’s softer, you find that the horses that go wide usually do well.” David Casey Flat course 1m6f & 5f 1m4 1/2f — National Hunt & Flat 8 Winning Post Startpoint Highest Point Lowest Point Open ditch Water jump Fence clonmel giving his supporters a 1050% return for their investment.
An average of €265, 678.10 was bet on course in 2009 at the venue’s 12 meetings. Facts about clonmel Boasts a record attendance which stands at 5,900.
Between 2006 and the summer of 2010, Waterford trainer Pat Flynn has sent out the most Flat winners at Powerstown Park, with nine.
Francis Ennis is also a man to watch.
Based on the Curragh, Ennis has brought just four horses to Clonmel for Flat races in that five-year period and three of them have prevailed, A right-handed, one mile and two furlongs, undulating track for National Hunt and Flat racing.
It has a two and a half furlong run-in with a stiff, uphill finish.
There are six hurdles and seven fences on the circuit while there is no draw advantage out of the stalls.
Powerstown Park has hosted racing since the early 19th century. Contact Details Clonmel Racecourse, Davis Road, Clonmel, Co.
T: 052 61 72481 E: administration @sportingpress.ie W: www.clonmelraces.ie Course Characteristics The course is right-handed, undulating, with a stiff uphill finish and is one mile and two furlongs in length. Location Located 2 km from Clonmel town centre on the Waterford/Cork to Limerick road. 52 R A C I N G t h e I R I S H way — cork Winning Post Startpoint Highest Point Lowest Point Open ditch Water jump Fence c CHASE h a p t e r 8 A right-handed Flat and level oval of between one mile and two furlongs (inner circuit) and one mile and four furlongs (outer circuit) for National Hunt and Flat racing situated in Mallow.
It also has a six furlong sprint track with no draw advantages.
Racing has been held in the region since 1777, while Mallow racecourse opened for business in 1924.
It was redeveloped and renamed Cork, opening for business in 1997. Contact Details Cork Racecourse (Mallow) Ltd, Killarney Road, Mallow, Co.
T: 022 50 207 E: email@example.com W: www.corkracecourse.ie Course Characteristics The new improved course is a righthanded, Flat, oval track of about one mile and four furlongs in length with a six furlong sprint track.
Location Situated 1 mile from Mallow town on the Mallow-Killarney Road (N72). Facts about cork The historic race that led to the term ‘steeplechasing’ being popularised took place just a few miles down the road.
In 1752, Edmund Blake and Cornelius O’Callaghan organised a 4 mile cross-country race from the steeple of St John’s Church in Buttevant to the steeple of St Mary’s in Doneraile.
Blake was the victor and claimed a cask of wine as his winnings.
More significantly, a new sport was born.
Willie Mullins has a higher percentage return than his rival Noel Meade over jumps in Cork 31 wins from 118 runners between 2006 and July 2010.
But Meade is the man for punters to follow, his 18 winners from 82 runners in that period providing an eye-popping return of €21.13.
The highest daily attendance at Cork in 2009 was 4,500 on April 12.
That marked a 13.5% increase on the highest daily attendance for the previous year. R A C I N G t h e I R I S H way 53 Flat course 2m 1m6f 1m4f — Winning Post Startpoint Highest Point Lowest Point Open ditch Water jump Fence “A good track, it can sometimes favour the speed horses as it dries quickly enough.
The chase track is a little stiffer than the hurdle track though.” David Casey National Hunt & Flat Fairyhouse Facts about Fairyhouse The record attendance at Fairyhouse is just in excess of 25,000.
The winner of the 1929 Irish Grand National was Alike, who was owned and ridden by 5’4” Frank Wise, who was missing three fingers and had a wooden leg.
Tom Dreaper trained the winner of the Grand National a record seven times in a row from 1960-66 (Olympia, Fortria, Kerforo, Last Link, Arkle, Splash, Flyingbolt), having won it three times before that.
Tom’s son Jim has trained the winner four times, including a three-in-a-row from 1974-76 (Colebridge, followed by Brown Lad twice).
Brown Lad came back to become the most successful Irish Grand National horse to win it a third time in 1978.
Ann Ferris remains the only woman to have ridden the winner of the Grand National, booting home Bentom Boy in 1984. A right-handed, relatively Flat, round course of one mile and six furlongs for National Hunt and Flat.
It has a run-in of almost three furlongs with a slight uphill finish.
There are eight hurdles and 11 fences on the circuit, with a high draw advantage for up to a mile on the Flat.
The first meeting was held here in 1848 and it hosts the Easter Festival, which features the Irish Grand National. Contact Details Fairyhouse Racecourse, Ratoath, Co.
T: 01 825 6167 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.fairyhouseracecourse.ie Course Characteristics The course itself is right-handed, relatively Flat and is one mile and six furlongs in length.
Location Situated north-west of Dublin near the village of Ratoath in Co.
Meath. 58 R A C I N G t h e I R I S H way “A very tight circuit with a stiff, uphill finish.
You need luck in running sometimes, especially when there are plenty of runners.” David Casey Flat course 2m 7f — 2m 3m “It’s looked after very well.
Most tracks with golf courses next to them are and I don’t know if that’s a coincidence.
It’s a good HURDLE track although the CHASE can ground turn up very soft.
It’s said that it’s a good frontrunner’s track.” Declan McDonogh National Hunt & Flat gowran park Facts about Gowran Park Whinstone Boy’s success in the 2010 Thyestes Chase was an emotional one for Aintree Grand Nationalwinning trainer Jimmy Mangan as he was realising a lifetime’s ambition of emulating the achievement of his late father Paddy, who took the prestigious prize in 1981 with pint-sized mare, June’s Friend.
Levmoss won his first race on this track before going on to win the Ascot Gold Cup and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 1969.
Many years later, Refuse to Bend won his first race at Gowran in 2002, before progressing to win four Group 1 races including the Irish 2000 Guineas in 2003.
Hardy Eustace is another legendary horse associated with the course, prepping for his dual Champion Hurdle heroics by finishing second in the Red Mills Trial Hurdle in 2004 and winning the race in 2000. A right-handed, undulating, dual purpose oval of one mile and four furlongs (NH) and one mile three furlongs (Flat) with a run-in of three furlongs and an uphill finish.
It has six hurdles and seven fences, with no draw advantage from the stalls.
It held its first meeting in 1914.
The Thyestes Chase is a target for most trainers. Contact Details Gowran Park, Gowran, Co.
T: 056 772 6225 E: email@example.com W: www.gowranpark.ie Course Characteristics The course is a right-handed undulating track of one mile and four furlongs in length that stages Flat and National Hunt racing. Location Situated just 1 km outside the village of Gowran on the Dublin-Waterford road. 60 R A C I N G t h e I R I S H way “Usually very fast, it’s very sharp and tends to have lots of runners.” David Casey National Hunt 2m6f 3m 2m 2m1f 2m3f 2m4f 2m7f 2m6f H — c h a p t e r 8 T he most unique track in Europe, Flat racing takes place on a straight, almost level course on the beach.
Races are confined to six and seven furlong distances.
Racing began in 1876 but has been running without interruption since 1901.
It takes place once a year in September. Facts about laytown Declan McDonogh is the undisputed master of Laytown.
In the four-year period between 2006 and 2009, the jockey rode six winners out of 13 and provided backers with a very healthy profit of €28 per euro bet.
The organisers managed to organise sponsorship for all their races in 2009.
They were rewarded as Laytown reversed a National trend by increasing their attendance by 37% on 2008 to 5,666. Contact Details Laytown Races, Laytown, Co.
Meath 9 Palace Street, Drogheda, Co.
T: 041 984 2111 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.goracing.ie Course Characteristics Racing takes place on the Laytown stand on a straight near-level course over six and seven furlong distances. Location Laytown is a small seaside resort in Co.
Meath on Ireland’s east coast. R A C I N G t h e I R I S H way 63 Flat course 6f 1m1f 7f 1m — c h a p t e r 2m6f 8 A Facts about limerick Had 22,000 people in attendance over the course of its four-day Christmas festival, placing it in the top seven racing festivals in Ireland.
The record attendance since the racecourse opened in 2001 is 18,000.
The current location is the seventh different one for horse racing in Co Limerick since fixtures were first recorded there in 1790.
The previous six were Bruff, Rathkeale, Newcastle, Lemonfield, Ballinacurra and Greenpark. R A C I N G t h e I R I S H way 65 Flat course 1m6f 2m 7f 61/2f 1m1f 1m 1m4f 1m2f — naas Winning Post Startpoint Highest Point Lowest Point Open ditch Water jump Fence c h a p t e r 8 A left-handed, dual purpose oval of one mile and four furlongs, with two chutes of two furlongs that join the four-furlong straight which has an uphill finish.
There are six hurdles and eight fences on the circuit, with a low draw best in five and six furlong races.
The first meeting took place in 1924. Contact Details Naas Racecourse, Tipper Road, Naas, Co.
Kildare T: 045 897 391 E: email@example.com W: www.naasracecourse.com Course Characteristics The course is left-handed, undulating and one mile and four furlongs in length with a stiff uphill climb to the winning post.
Also a chute for sprint races that joins the straight.
Location Located about 1km from Naas town centre in the Thoroughbred county’ of Kildare. Facts about naas Cheltenham Trial Day in 2009 produced three Grade 1 winners.
Go Native claimed the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, three weeks after being victorious in Naas.
Joncol subsequently won the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown, while An Cathaoir More claimed the Arkle Chase at the same venue. 2004 Irish champion two-year-old, the David Wachman-trained Damson, won at Naas before taking the honours in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Phoenix Stakes at The Curragh.
Such is the competitiveness of the racing that no single jockey or trainer on the Flat is worth following exclusively.
However, Moyglare Stud Farm-owned horses have returned a profit of €5 per euro for anyone who sticks with the famous black jacket, white sleeves, red cap and black star on Tipper Road. R A C I N G t h e I R I S H way 67 Flat course 1m 1m2f 6f 5f 2m 1m5f RDLE National Hunt c h a p t e r — The record attendance is 5,128 which was set in 2001.
An aggregate of 37, 636 from 17 fixtures paid in to see racing here in 2009.
Champion Hurdlers Hardy Eustace and Brave Inca, as well as Champion Chaser Moscow Flyer are amongst the classy performers who have relished this galloping track and testing uphill finish.
Limestone Lad recorded eight of his Winning Post Startpoint Highest Point Lowest Point Open ditch Water jump Fence Navan 35 career wins at this track while his stablemate at James Bowe’s yard, Solerina had six of her 22 successes.
Both were accorded a special victory lap here to mark their retirement.
There is a full 18-hole, par 72 championship golf course at the venue as well as a 12-bay floodlit driving range. A left-handed oval of one mile and four furlongs for National Hunt and Flat, it has a three and a half furlong run-in and an uphill finish.
There are seven hurdles and eight fences on the circuit, with a low draw best on the straight six furlong course.
The first meeting was held here in 1920. Contact Details Navan Racecourse, Proudstown, Navan, Co.
T: 046 902 1350 F: 046 902 7964 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.navanracecourse.ie Course Characteristics The course is left-handed, one mile and two furlongs in length and undulating with a stiff uphill climb to the winning post. Location Situated 3 km outside Navan town on the Kingscourt Road (R162). 68 R A C I N G t h e I R I S H way “A very good track and particularly a very good chase track.
It’s not as stiff as people think.” David Casey National Hunt — 3m c h a p t e r CHASE 8 A right-handed oval of one mile, with a two furlong run-in and a steady incline from halfway to the finish line for National Hunt and Flat racing.
There are four hurdles and five fences on the circuit, while a high draw has the advantage up to seven furlongs.
Racing has been taking place at this venue since 1955, although there is a tradition of racing in the area dating back to 1781. Contact Details Sligo Racecourse Cleveragh Road, Sligo.
T/F: 071 916 2484/071 918 3342 E: email@example.com W: www.countysligoraces.com Course Characteristics Sligo is a right-handed course of 1 mile in length with a steady incline from halfway to the finish line.
Location Situated at Cleveragh 1km from Sligo town centre, just off the Pearse Road. Facts about sligo The total attendance for Sligo’s seven fixtures in 2009 was 15,902.
The Bookmakers and Tote received on-course betting of €2,297,041 that year.
Andrew McNamara is the jockey to be on the right side of here over sticks, with a 20% strike rate and a profit of €12.50 on every euro.
Paul Gilligan is the trainer to watch, sending out more winners than anyone, having a 24% success rate and giving his faithful supporters €22.55 profit for their euro.
On the Flat, David Moran is the jockey in form here, with a 22% strike rate and a €21 profit.
Francis Ennis only sent nine horses here between 2006 and July 2010 but five of them won, at a profit of €24.63. R A C I N G t h e I R I S H way 71 National Hunt 2m 2m2f (Optional Hurdle) 3m — Winning Post Startpoint Highest Point Lowest Point Open ditch Water jump Fence “Ireland’s all-weather racecourse in all but HURDLE name before Dundalk CHASE came along.
It’s got amazing ground and no matter what the conditions, racing goes ahead.
We would be lost without it.” David Casey National Hunt & Flat thurles Facts about thurles One of the top two-mile chasers of the noughties, Native Upmanship relished Thurles.
The two-time winner of the Grade 1 Melling Chase at Aintree took the honours in the Kinloch Brae Chase in 2002, 2004 and 2004.
Klairon Davis won a novice hurdle here in 1994 before going on to win the Arkle at Cheltenham 14 months later and the Champion Chase in 1996.
Newmill won his first race in Thurles in January 2006.
It was ideal preparation as John Murphy’s star went on to win the Champion Chase in March.
Four years later he returned at the age of 12 to win the Kinloch Brae Chase.
Vintage Crop also won his frst here at 20/1.
Dermot Weld’s champion stayer won 15 more races, including two Irish St Legers and created history when becoming the first horse form the northern hemisphere to win the Melbourne Cup. A n undulating, right-handed, dual purpose course of one mile and two furlongs, with a run-in of just over a furlong and an uphill climb to the winning post.
There are six hurdles and seven fences with no draw advantage out of the stalls.
The earliest recording of a meeting here was in 1732.
Most of its fixtures are on Thursdays. Contact Details The Racecourse, Thurles, Co.
T: 0504 22 253 F: 0504 24 565 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.thurlesraces.ie Course Characteristics An undulating right-handed oval course of one mile and two furlongs with an uphill climb to the winning post. Location Situated 1.5 km west of Thurles town, 8 km west of the main Cork-Dublin road. 72 R A C I N G t h e I R I S H way — 2m6f tramore ‘wrong way’ around Tramore in preparation for the race as Liam Browne recognised that the gradient going left-handed was similar to Epsom’s.
Fran Berry has a cracking strike rate of 38% yielding a profit of €43.84 per euro between 2006 and July 2010.
John Oxx had 13 winners from just 24 runs at Tramore in that time, giving his backers a €14.07 profit per euro bet. Facts about tramore Tramore recorded a 13% increase in attendance in 2009 from 33,609 in 2008 to 38,030.
It hosted 11 fixtures both campaigns.The record attendance of 11,000 turned up for what was Europe’s first meeting of the millennium on January 1, 2000.Two years later, the track was the first in Europe to use the euro as currency.
The 1983 Epsom Derby runner-up Carlingford Castle was schooled the A right-handed, turning, undulating one mile oval with a descent to the turn and a one furlong uphill climb to the winning post.
There are four hurdles and five fences on the circuit, with no draw advantage from the stalls.
There has been racing in the area since 1785. Contact Details Waterford and Tramore Racecourse, Tramore, Co.
T: 051 381 425 E: email@example.com W: www.tramore-racecourse.com Course Characteristics The course is a right-handed, turning undulating track of one mile in length with an uphill climb to the winning post. Location Situated 13 km from Waterford city and 1 km outside the town of Tramore. 74 R A C I N G t h e I R I S H way “You need a bit of pace to hold your position here.
When the ground is softer it is possible to drop a horse in and take your time.” David Casey National Hunt & Flat — 1m6f 1m31 /2f 1m1/2f National Hunt 2m 3m 2m4f 2m2f 3m1f 2m1f HURDLE wexford sharp, right-handed, gently undulating, rectangular track for National Hunt and Flat racing.
It is one mile and two furlongs long with a short run-in of just over a furlong.
There are five fences and four hurdles on the circuit with a high draw most advantageous in Flat racing.
Racing was taking place in the region in the 1870s, with the current venue its host since 1951. Contact Details Wexford Racecourse Newtown Road, Wexford.
Non race day p: 053 9143853 Raceday p: 053 9142307 F: 053 9143702 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.wexfordraces.ie Course Characteristics It is a gently undulating right-handed course of one mile and two furlongs which features Flat and National Hunt racing.
Location The racecourse is located just outside Wexford town off the Dublin-Rosslare bypass. A Winning Post Startpoint Highest Point Lowest Point Open ditch Water jump Fence 2m6f 2m3f c CHASE h a p t e r 8 Facts about wexford Sinntara, owned by the Aga Khan and dam of the 2000 Irish Derby and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Sinndar, won her maiden here in 1992 before going on to win the Irish Cesarewitch.
Admission prices on the first day of racing on October 15, 1951 were ten shillings (63 cent) for gentlemen, five shillings for ladies (32 cent) and half-a-crown (20 cent) for the outside enclosure.
Car parking was free.
Ruby Walsh has the best strike rate for Jump Jockeys at Wexford with 32% for the period between 2006 and July 2010 but Davy Russell has produced more profits for his backers.
His 27% success rate comes with a dividend of €7.81 for every euro.
A total of €2,929,178 was bet on course between bookmakers and Tote in 2009, from a 10 meetings. — It always comes back to providing safe racing ground for the horses and the jockeys. 10-20 feet of a jump, and then be moved to the other end on the next day to provide that amount of fresh ground. BUILDING FENCES In Punchestown they have 11 fences which are replaced every second year; half of them one year and the rest the next year.
They key ingredient is good quality birch according to Richie. BUILDING A TRACK There are approximately 15 miles of running rails at Punchestown.
Not every track has that space.
Indeed, most don’t.
But the principles are the same.
During the festival, the ground staff at Punchestown can move the rails seven or eight yards on a daily basis to get fresh ground.
Other tracks might be in a position to move rails by half that distance.
The same applies with the fences, where a wing can cut off “Birch is the biggest and most important component.
Fences can be anything from 40 to 60 feet wide.
We have a wider distance from the apron at the front to the landing side than they do at Cheltenham for example.
You have to take the opinions of the trainers and jockeys into account and they need to be happy with your fences. “We don’t want to see horses turned over or being penalised too heavily for a mistake and we definitely don’t want to see any horse injured.
We want to see them being penalised by three or four lengths if they make a mistake.
No more.” c h a p t e r 9 R A C I N G t h e I R I S H way 79 SOME OF THE KEY PERSONNEL Apart from the owners, trainers, jockeys, grooms and horses, you won’t have a race day without: Clerk of the Course The clerk has an input on non-race days as well as race days.
He will discuss the layout of the track, hurdles and fences with the racecourse manager, with safety his prime concern.
On race day, he will walk the track and come up with a ground description.
He will listen to the opinions of senior jockeys and trainers when it comes to both the layout of the track, and the ground description. — R A C I N G t h e I R I S H way have to make and the discipline under which they have to maintain their bodies is intense but for most the rewards outweigh the sacrifice of not eating.
Through the Turf Club medical team there are health experts and dieticians available to those who need advice on the matter.
Ireland is recognised as a world leader on the matter of jockeys’ health and safety. Once or twice, when it’s really bad, I’ve put my head in my hands and wept, because I don’t want to do it.” Tony McCoy during his early days of doing light weights THE DANGER For jump races it is calculated that on average a jockey will get a fall once in every eight rides over hurdles or fences and most if not all jump jockeys have suffered broken bones.
Flat jockeys are not insulated from the danger of a fall either, even in flat races horses can stumble and clip the heels of another horse and it can be even more dangerous because it happens at greater speed and is so unexpected. “I run every day.
I lose three or four pounds every day.
It’s just part of the regime….
I’m lucky to be doing a job I like – if I don’t want to go wasting that’s my decision.
I want to be a jockey so that comes with it.
I have to be able to look after the weight” Top Flat Jockey, Johnny Murtagh “The thought of that steaming hot bath every morning that I ride hangs over me like a black cloud.
I look in the mirror and I know that four pounds has got to be shifted from somewhere yet no matter how hard I pinch myself I can’t find a fold of flesh to see where it will come from….. just turning up and riding each day.
The mental preparation for a race, especially a big race, is exacting on a jockey. c h a p t e r It is not for nothing that two ambulances attend every racemeeting. That is the nature of the sport of racing, the inherent danger of it and part of what makes it so compelling to watch. “I find that there is much more mental than physical effort involved in raceriding.
The physical part is easy because you are already fit.” Mick Kinane 11 “If you ride a horse for the first time you have to get on with it.
Of course some horses can be a bit difficult but you have to get on with them so there is give and take in the relationship.
You can’t engage in a tug of war with them, they weigh about 500 kgs so there is only going to be one winner in a test of strength.” Johnny Murtagh “I’ve got the best job in the world and the easiest lifestyle – because it’s the one I choose.” 13 time UK NH Champion Jockey Tony McCoy. — 98 R A C I N G t h e I R I S H way further back.
This gives you an increased insight which is imperative when making your choice.
Other factors apart from the finishing positions to consider include: DISTANCE Just imagine you’ve landed on Earth from Mars.
You’re at the Olympics and Usain Bolt is running in the marathon.
You look at his form (1, 1, 1, 1, 1 ad infinitum) and you think he’s a dead cert.
He never loses! He would this time though because he’s a sprinting specialist.
It is the same with horses.
It might be down to build, and pedigree certainly has a lot to do with it, but horses have a premium distance.
Some, like the wondrous Sea The Stars, could win over a range of distances.
It is rare however.
In flat racing, you have sprinters too and even in that sphere, there is a significant difference between five and six furlongs, as there is between 100m and 200m (Bolt apart). Then you have the Classic distances; the mile for the Guineas, 12 furlongs (mile and a half) for the Derby.
After that, there are the stayers such as the legendary Yeats, who relish distances of anything from a mile and six furlongs to two and a half miles.
In national hunt, the speedsters are two-milers.
The stayers start at three miles onwards.
Many horses stay three miles but can’t take the extra two furlongs of the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
There are plenty of races for those stuck in between; who might not have the pace to lie up with the two-milers but would run out of petrol before the last in a three-mile chase.
The Grand National remains the ultimate test of endurance and bravery.
That is over four and a half miles.
In essence, Red Rum wouldn’t win over two miles and Istabraq, for all his class, wouldn’t have won a Stayers’ Hurdle over three.
So form over the distance is imperative.
On the flip side, if a horse is brought down in distance, look c h a p t e r 12 R A C I N G t h e I R I S H way 99 When trying to compare form between horses, how much weight one gave or received last time and does so on this occasion is crucial.
A couple of pounds each way could be the difference in turning around a two length deficit. c h a p t e r found on a host of websites including www.goracing.ie TRACK — 13 R A C I N G t h e I R I S H way 107 The accumulated odds are high in these bets because a number of horses have to all win but when they come off the payouts can be huge.
For the inexperienced bettor these exotic bets can take a bit of figuring out but it can often be worth the effort when you hit a big payoff! More fun than doing the lottery! c h a p t e r bet is gone but you will still get the money from the place bet.
The place aspect is a sort of insurance. (Win) Treble One bet on three horses which must all win.
The same as a double above but three horses must win for it to come off. (Each-Way) Treble The same as above except with three horses. (Win) (Each-Way) Four-Fold, Five-Fold etc These bets are generally referred to as ‘Accumulators’ and the same principle as Doubles and Trebles applies.
Trixie Four bets on three horses: ie Three doubles and one treble.
At least two of the horses must win to get a return.
Patent Seven bets on three horses consisting of three single bets, three doubles and one treble. Yankee 11 bets on four horses: ie six doubles, four trebles and one four-fold accumulator.
Lucky 15 As the name suggests,15 bets on four different horses: ie four single bets, six doubles, four trebles and one four-fold accumulator.
Super-Yankee (sometimes called a Canadian) 26 bets on five horses: ie 10 doubles, 10 trebles, five four-folds and one five-fold accumulator.
Lucky 31 As the name suggests 31 bets on five different horses: ie five singles, 10 doubles, 10 trebles, five four-fold and one five-fold accumulator.
Heinz 57 bets (Heinz 57!) on six horses: ie 15 doubles, 20 trebles, 15 four-folds, six five-folds and one six-fold accumulator. Lucky 63 63 bets on six horses: ie six singles, 15 doubles, 20 trebles, 15 four-folds, six five-folds and one six-fold accumulator.
Super-Heinz A mammoth 120 bets on seven horses: ie 21 doubles, 35 trebles, 35 four-folds, 21 five-folds, 7 six-folds and one seven-fold accumulator.
Goliath A whopping 247 bets on eight horses; ie 28 doubles, 56 trebles, 70 four-folds, 56 five-folds, 28 six-folds, 8 seven-folds and 1 eight-fold accumulator.
Warning: Horse Racing Ireland promotes controlled betting, never bet more than you can afford to lose, if you have a betting problem, go to www.gambleaware.co.uk or www.gamcare.org.uk.
HRI takes no responsibly for any information used irresponsibly. 13 Combination Forecast Selecting three or more horses in any one race, two of which must finish 1st or 2nd in any order. (Win) Double One bet on two horses which must both win.
All the winnings plus the original stake from the first horse are re-invested on the second horse. (Each-Way) Double The same as above except you get the place money as well as the win money if both win.
However, if one or both horses are only placed the ‘win’ part of the 108 R A C I N G t h e I R I S H way 26 IRISH RACECOURSE Locations by region CORK Cork 53 MEATH
Read more about Kayu, the dam of four-time Irish St Leger winner Vinnie Roe was a twin, though she never raced: