An Australian study confirmed that a Thoroughbred’s stride length, and in turn their preferred distance and running style, can be a hereditary trait, the New Zealand publication HorseTalk reports.
The team of researchers based in England, France, and Belgium, examined 421 Australian Thoroughbreds over the course of 3,269 combined races, collecting stride parameters from pre-race training over turf using a locomotion monitoring device, then traced each horse’s pedigree going back three generations. Their research confirmed the common belief that horses with shorter strides tended to excel at sprint distances, while those with longer strides tended to be best as stayers, and those traits were moderately heritable.
“Such information when coupled with the trainer’s experience/eye could help them choose the most suitable race for each individual horse; to benefit both its health and safety on the track,” the study reported.
Identifying a racing prospect’s stride profile early in their training, the study surmised, could help optimize their limited time at the races, and give them a better chance to zero in on the conditions that will earn them the most wins possible.
“Trainers subjectively determine individual racehorse locomotory profile (sprinter, miler or stayer) early on in their training in order to ideally target the most appropriate exercise program and maximize their racing performance,” the study read. “Yet, a racehorse’s ability to gallop over five furlongs for a sprint race, as opposed to twenty for a stayer’s race, will differ significantly in terms of locomotion strategy.
“As they approach peak speeds, individual horses will either naturally increase their peak stride length or frequency,” the study continued. “Over shorter distances, the requirements for acceleration and speed are pivotal, but as the distance increases, then efficiency of stride and stamina become more important.”
Read more at HorseTalk.