The association of 2-year-old training milestones with career length and racing success in a sample of Thoroughbred horses in New Zealand
Article first published online: 10 FEB 2012
© 2012 EVJ Ltd
Equine Veterinary Journal
Volume 45, Issue 1, pages 20–24, January 2013
How to Cite
TANNER, J. C., ROGERS, C. W. and FIRTH, E. C. (2013), The association of 2-year-old training milestones with career length and racing success in a sample of Thoroughbred horses in New Zealand. Equine Veterinary Journal, 45: 20–24. doi: 10.1111/j.2042-3306.2011.00534.x
- Issue published online: 10 DEC 2012
- Article first published online: 10 FEB 2012
- Received: 27.07.11; Accepted: 19.11.11
- racing performance;
Reasons for performing study: There is increasing evidence that exercise early in life has a positive effect on musculoskeletal health. At present, there is little whole population research investigating the effect of racing as 2-year-olds on future racing career.
Objectives: To investigate the association between attaining training milestones as 2-year-olds with length of career and racing success in Thoroughbred horses in New Zealand.
Methods: Retrospective data were obtained of the 2001/02-born Thoroughbred foal crop. The 3 training milestones were: registered with a trainer, trialled and raced. The association of the training milestones with career length was measured using the outcomes: number of race starts and number of years raced, in a Cox regression model. Logistic regression models analysed the association of the training milestones with the outcomes: won or placed in a race. Linear regression was performed to assess the association of training milestones with total career earnings.
Results: Of 4683 horses in the population; 3152 horses were registered with a trainer, 2661 horses trialled and 2109 horses raced. Horses that raced as 2-year-olds had significantly (P<0.001) more race starts than those first raced as 3-year-olds or older, this was also true when the 2-year-old year data were omitted. Horses that raced as 2-year-olds had significantly (P<0.001) more years racing. Horses registered with a trainer, trialled or raced as 2-year-olds were more likely to have won or been placed in a race than those that achieved the milestones as 3-year-olds or older. Horses that first trialled and raced as 2-year-olds had greater total earnings than those that first trialled or raced at a later age.
Conclusions and potential relevance: Two-year-old training milestones had a strong association with positive racing career outcomes. Horses in training or racing as 2-year-olds may have better musculoskeletal health throughout life than horses that are first in training or racing at a later age.