Reasons for performing study: Research investigating trends in racehorse careers require a benchmark for accurate comparison. Currently little whole population data exists for horses racing in Australia.
Objectives: To determine the range and variation in career length and number of career starts for horses racing in Australia. To document and provide evidence regarding the current differences between the sexes for career length and careers starts.
Methods: Racing data were collected for Thoroughbreds over a 10-year period. Career length, number of career starts and spells per year were evaluated. Statistical analyses were performed using the statistical package R.
Results: A total of 2,782,774 performance records yielded career information for 164,046 horses. Median career length and number of career starts for the population were 14.7 months and 10 starts, respectively. Significant differences (P<0.001) were present between the sexes for all career outcomes. Between 2000 and 2010, the percentage of Thoroughbreds racing in Australia with careers longer than 12, 24, 36 and 48 months was 56.65, 32.35, 16.66 and 7.74, respectively.
Conclusions and potential relevance: Clear differences in career outcomes exist between intact males, females and geldings racing in Australia. Future research should be conscious of these differences when analysing population data.