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Study Finds Racing As 2YOs Not Detrimental

Thursday, 4th April 2013

With Sydney's Rosehill Gardens to again host the Gr1 Golden Slipper, the most lucrative 2YO race for thoroughbreds in the world, this Saturday, ongoing criticism pervades regarding horses being raced at this young age by an Australian Senate Select Committee on animal welfare. University of Sydney researchers, however, have addressed this issue in the most comprehensive study yet undertaken, and found no detrimental effect on a horse's career if it started racing as a 2YO; conversely, the study found and that thoroughbred horses beginning their careers in Australia at younger ages were more likely to have longer careers than those starting their careers later in life. Natasha Hamilton, the supervising author at the University's Faculty of Veterinary Science commented: "This is the largest and most extensive study of its type as we investigated the careers of over 115,000 Australian thoroughbred racehorses and evaluated them throughout a 10 year period." The study, published in the Equine Veterinary Journal, also used the horse's exact age at each race as defined by its birth date, rather than simply by year of birth, making it more accurate than comparable studies. Dr Hamilton added: "The survival analysis showed the risk of retirement from racing decreased the younger the horse was when it ran its first race." Further to this, the study also concluded that the risk of retirement also decreased with the number of starts a 2YO had, and with average distance raced. Explained Dr. Hamilton: "Our study supports earlier findings but is based on a much larger sample." The research also suggested that the racing and training of 2YOs is not harmful as long as there is an awareness that combining an inappropriate training regime with a genetic predisposition to injuries can result in injuries that prevent the horse from continuing or beginning its racing career. Dr Hamilton was conditional in adding, "We still advise caution when introducing young horses to racing".

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