Improved Performance?

The recognition of IMPROVED PERFORMANCE in race horses Via SECTIONAL ANALYSIS


What does all this mean??


Horses normally Jump (from the barriers) , accelerate and then settle into a constant pace (speed) . At some time at or about the 3 furlong pole the horses will further accelerate and then maintain this new speed to the Post. If during this last 3 furlongs the horse does not accelerate (attain a higher speed) or having attained this higher speed then begins to ‘decelerate’ prior to the post the trainer may well be concerned. Lack of fitness , race interference, unsuitable surface, lameness, virus ..................................etc are other potential contributing factors. . ...... Should lack of ability be added to these??? ‘Individual Ability’ is reflected in 1)ability to gallop, comprising (a) the rate of acceleration,(b) the ‘top speed’ attainable, in an individual animal. As one means of assessing this trainers use timed / measured gallops over 600 m’s. This distance appears suitable as aerobic metabolism and therefore cardiovascular capacity appear to play little part. 2) Innate cardiovascular capacity (heart / lung capacity and function) determines how long the top speed can be maintained. Treadmill testing, given the absence of ‘abnormality’, would be the best form of assessing this i.e......... individual aerobic capacity. In the past jockeys and trainers have used the rate of respiratory recovery and therefore ‘ease of handling of their work’ as their means of assessing this.


Over many decades trainers have concluded that all horses should be capable of ‘finishing off’ a race once fit, sound.....etc. That is towards the end of the race a horse first accelerates and then maintains this higher speed for at least 600m’s. This magic 600 meter marker may well have been the distance required to leave the horses ‘natural predators’ in its wake! A horse with ‘greater ability’ may well 1) accelerate faster 2) attain a higher speed 3) maintain this speed for a longer period of time...i.e. past 600 m’s.


All horses should be able to ‘sprint’ the last 600m’s in a race/work out unless too much ‘Top speed’ (gas) has been used in the early or mid stages of the same. ‘Top speed’ is often used for a short distance at the commencement of the race to obtain a useful position in the field or during the race for tactical reasons. If too much top speed is used the horse may not accelerate over the concluding stages but should at least maintain its general race speed. If a horse leads a field by 5 lengths at the 2 furlong marker then maintenance of race speed may well be adequate to Win. If another horse is 15 lengths off the first at the 3 furlong pole then it must attain and maintain a higher top speed over the last 3 furlongs to have a chance of winning.


Using these methods of assessment (innate ability) trainers and others have claimed to be not far from the mark on 3 out of 4 occasions (75% of the time). My own findings post OPP surgery in unraced horses , be it in a limited number of cases , would support their theories. Post operative enhanced performances also suggested that ‘getting to the line’ is also a valid parameter to use. i.e. a successful outcome to surgery should include a return to, or the attaining of, this highly desirable racing trait.


Given these suggestions the often made comment ‘but they probably lacked ability’ following a poor outcome following URT surgery may not be justified. If trainers are correct in their assessments of innate ability 75% of the time, then 75% of horses should improve (performance) following successful surgery...... Most trainers are reluctant to submit a horse for surgery if they do not believe it has the ability to perform competitively!...... It doesn’t impress owners!!


SO!! 1) Why don’t we look at available sectional times (preferably 50 m intervals) and try to assess the same Pre and Post SURGERY over as many races or track gallops as available. 2) Look at statistical analysis in the individual which is more relevant than a group. 3) Use the treadmill for ‘ability’ assessments but not performance. These assessments are useful prior to purchase.Race performance demands occur outside the range of the treadmill. 4) Treadmills are particularly useful for demonstrating specific URT dysfunctions. BUT They will also miss a significant number of these because (i) No jockey.....etc thus do not mimic race pressure, and particularly because the horse is given the opportunity to gradually increase speed (not jump and run). (ii) As occurs in race conditions some URT’s only dysfunction when asked to ‘work hard’ i.e...the horse.races in a forward position for the entire race. (iii) Pharyngeal dysfunction is both a dynamic and ‘intermittent ‘problem . Dysfunction may well only occur in 1 of 5 races. Do we run them this many times over the same period of time on the mill? 5) ‘Sectional time’ assessments could be used to gauge response to many protocols.......post LRT diagnostics and therapies?? BAL. / Trach.W....etc 6) Post Surgical Treadmill assessment although significant when demonstrating elimination of presenting symptoms ....DDSP, A/E fold dynamic collapse, corniculate process fixation / abduction...... still do not test under race pressure... .therefore a treadmill positive may well not improve significantly in a race. Sectional time analysis is still required.


NB.1) My comments on treadmill endoscopy are not made to in any way discourage the use of a very useful ‘diagnostic aid’. They simply warn against ‘over claims’ similar to those which were abundant with the first appearance of ‘flexible fibre optics’!....Erroneous claims of pharyngeal dysfunctions (DDSP) , ‘significant’ RLN (without at least nasal occlusion challenge) and significant PLH which are often totally unrelated to the individual presenting symptoms are still being made with resting fibreoptics. The practise of immediate post exercise scoping except for the detection of exudates is still prevalent and equally ridiculous. 2) The presence or not of abnormal URT noises and their elimination suggesting a favourable response to surgery has always been both an unreliable and misleading practise! It is time we dispelled the myths by instituting sensible assessment criteria! 3) Airway pressure analysis is also a very useful assessment criteria but its use is still limited to treadmill testing pressures only. Timed gallops over 1000 m’s were of more use but still of questionable significance in horses racing over longer distances.


Sectional Time Analysis:- (from video) VARIABLES


(A)Slow tracks mean all sectionals should be proportionately ‘slowed’. The converse is true of ‘fast’ tracks. Lesser quality fields also lead to slower sectionals overall. Longer races generally mean slower sectionals overall.


(B)Stewards Reports:- Will provide information on interference to runners causing alterations to time reports of post race disease ‘virus??’, EIPH....etc. possible ?? failure to try of ‘rider and not horse origin!! raced on the fence V’s 3 wide on a circular track


PS .I am sure that this is the type of analysis used when qualifying human athletic performance!