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ISSUE 59 – OCTOBER – DECEMBER 2017 £6.95


JULIAN McLAREN How Bro Park can help trainers build for the future


What’s the best way to bring on your youngsters?

GALLOPS OF EUROPE Europe’s most iconic training grounds profiled

HINDSIGHT Globetrotter Clive Brittain on his career and racing today


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ur cover trainer profile in this issue is on a young Swedish trainer - Julian McLaren. McLaren was just starting out as a trainer in his own name before the untimely death of his much-liked father, Alex, who was taken from us nearly two years ago. I had first met Alex some 25 years ago, but it was over the last five or so years that we reconnected, thanks to Alex’s role as the Swedish trainers’ representative on the European Trainers’ Federation. Alex was always full of enthusiasm for his profession and the master of some innovative ways of attracting new owners to his stables. He was relishing the move to the new Bro Park racecourse and training complex outside Stockholm having been involved in various aspects of its planning and construction. But from the tragedy of his death, his family name continues in racing thanks to Julian, who in a short space of time is gaining the respect of many within the Scandinavian racing community and I’m sure will one day become a familiar name across Europe. This issue mixes the young up and coming trainer with the thoughts of an older generation, as we launch a new feature which we have called “Hindsight”, in which a trainer looks back on the changes in training methods over his lifetime. It’s only right and fitting that the honour of the first “Hindsight” profile goes to the trainer who not only graced the cover of our first-ever issue but also achieved so much on the wider European and worldwide racing stage - Clive Brittain. It’s interesting to note that Clive started his career at the famous Beckhampton Stables, now occupied by the winner of this issue’s TRM Trainer of the Quarter - Roger Charlton. As Beckhampton is a private training centre it doesn’t feature in our look at some of the biggest public training centres across Europe. In this issue, we focus on some of the facilities and gallops to be found at the most recognised names. We have undoubtedly not included everyone, and would welcome more to feature in forthcoming issues, so do let us know which ones you would like to see! Finally, a massive thank you to all the trainers who took the time to complete our online questionnaire which we referenced in the last issue of the magazine. The results of the survey can be found in this issue and the information which has been provided will be of great assistance to trainers’ bodies across Europe and for the ETF, who continue to highlight the vital role trainers play in the equine industry at many European “political” forums in Brussels and beyond. This December will see the 20th AGM of the European Trainers’ Federation, to be held in Paris. If you have an issue which you would like to be discussed at the meeting, please be sure to let your country’s federation know by the middle of November. Wherever your racing takes you this autumn - good luck!







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BAILEYS HORSE FEEDS - PHONE FOR A TRIAL Racing Specialist - Simon Venner 07977 441 571 Export Manager - Mark Buchan +44 (0)7711 701 565 Tel: 01371 850 247






20 28 ISS S UE



10 Sweden’s rising star

Scandinavian racing’s up-and-coming trainer Julian McLaren talks to Amie Karlsson about his upbringing, his career to date and his future plans.


Is EIPH beyond the scope of dietary change?

Dr Catherine Dunnett examines whether the age-old problem of ‘bleeding’, or exercise induced pulmonary haemorrhage, can be influenced nutritionally.

28 Iconic gallops of Europe

Lissa Oliver presents the most iconic training grounds in Europe, their histories, success stories and explains why champions are trained there generation after generation.

40 The Biome of the lung

Dr Emmanuelle van Erck-Westergren explains and explores the importance of the microbial make-up of the lung, and what this can tell us about a horse’s well-being.

46 Lycetts Team Champion Award

Lissa Oliver reports on the latest industry developments to better recognise the contribution of stable staff in British racing.



52 Tendon function and failure

Is tendon injury linked to ageing or damage within specific areas of the tendon? Professor Peter Clegg examines the evidence.

56 Training yearlings

Former trainer Olly Stevens takes a look at the different yearling training practices and establishments around the world.

64 Epiduroscopy

Dr Timo Prange discusses new developments in endoscopy which allow better analysis of the spinal canal architecture.

70 The Trainers’ daily rates survey Anna Alcock shares the results gained from our recent survey of trainers across Europe.

74 Merial Raceday

Becky James reports from the Merial performance horse CPD and raceday at Gowran Park Racecourse.

56 REGULARS 04 Contributors 06 ETF Members 08 TRM Trainer of the Quarter

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86 Hindsight

In a new feature for Trainer Magazine, retired trainer Clive Brittain discusses British and international racing, as well as the people who influenced his 40-year career.

80 Does European racing need one

set of Rules?

Paull Khan compares the Rules of Racing between Europe’s racing nations and reports from this year’s EMHF council meeting in Jersey.

Visit to download the digital edition of this issue.

T h e £8. 8 / € 1 0 .6 M i llion Se rie s



Editorial Director/Publisher Giles Anderson Editor Frances J. Karon Designer ATG Media Editorial/Photo Management Suzy Stephens Advert Production Shae Hardy Circulation/Website Anna Alcock Advertising Sales Giles Anderson, Oscar Yeadon Photo Credits: Elina Björklund, Stefan Olsson, Alamy, Caroline Norris, Wilhelm Westergren, Enrico Querci, Clive Brittain, Svensk Galopp, Dr T Prange, Prof. Peter Clegg, Kurt System, Winstar Farms, Patrick Owens

Cover Photograph Elina Björklund Trainer magazine is published by Anderson & Co Publishing Ltd. This magazine is distributed for free to all EFT members. Editorial views expressed are not necessarily those of the ETF. Additional copies can be purchased for £6.95 (ex P&P). No part of this publication may be reproduced in any format without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Printed in the European Union For all editorial and advertising queries please contact: Anderson & Co. Publishing Tel: +44 (0) 1380 816777 Fax: +44 (0) 1380 816778 email: Issue 59

ISSN 17580293

9 771478 961223



Amie Karlsson is a trainee on the 2016-2018 Godolphin Flying Start, a management and leadership training program that specialises in the international thoroughbred racing and breeding industry. Before commencing Flying Start, she worked as a freelance racing journalist in her native Sweden and as an exercise rider in England and France. She also completed the British Horseracing Authority Graduate Development Programme and the National Stud Diploma Course. Amie is passionate about the Scandinavian racing industry and tweets as @scandiracing. Dr Catherine Dunnett BSc, PhD, R. Nutr. is an independent nutritionist registered with the British Nutrition Society. She has a background in equine research, in the field of nutrition and exercise physiology, with many years spent at The Animal Health Trust in Newmarket. Prior to setting up her own consultancy business, she worked in the equine feed industry on product development and technical marketing. Dr Emmanuelle Van Erck-Westergren graduated from the Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire de Maison Alfort (France) in 1996. Emmanuelle is author of more than 40 scientific articles and regularly lectures at international scientific meetings. She is member of the board of the Belgian Equine Practitioner Society (BEPS) and on the scientific committee of the French Association of Equine Veterinarians (AVEF). She continues to collaborate to applied research projects in Equine Sports Medicine, to teach clinical training for the veterinary students and practitioners and to contribute regularly writing in both scientific and lay reviews. Lissa Oliver lives in Co. Kildare, Ireland and is a regular contributor to The Irish Field and the Australian magazine, Racetrack. Lissa is also the author of several collections of short stories and two novels.

Olly Stevens. A Royal Ascot and International Group 1-winning trainer, Newmarket native Olly Stevens has a broad international experience and an innovative outlook. Having won races on turf, dirt and even ice, Olly enjoyed a short yet fruitful training career in his own right based in the south of England. Olly now splits his time between publishing and advising a select group of racing clients. Dr Paull Khan, PhD. is an international horseracing consultant. He is Secretary-General of the European & Mediterranean Horseracing Federation and Technical Advisor for Europe to the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities. His other clients include the British Horseracing Board. Previously, Dr Khan held many senior roles at Weatherbys, including Banking Director and Racing Director. Professor Peter Clegg qualified from the University of Cambridge in 1987 and spent four years working in equine practice. He then completed a Residency in Equine Surgery at the Royal Veterinary College in 1994 obtaining the RCVS Certificate in Equine Orthopaedics during this time. In 2003, he was awarded a Wellcome Trust Research Leave Fellowship to undertake research into cartilage repair in conjunction with the University of Manchester. Peter is a Diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Surgeons and a RCVS Specialist in Equine Surgery. Dr Timo Prange is Clinical Assistant Professor of Equine Surgery at the North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine. German by birth, Dr Prange trained in surgery at the Universities of Virginia and Michigan before taking up a surgical post in North Carolina in 2010. Dr Prange has published extensively on surgical approaches to a range of equine disorders and in particular has focused on endoscopic assessment of the spinal cord and nerves.


a) To represent the interests of all member trainers’ associations in Europe. b) To liaise with political and administrative bodies on behalf of European trainers. c) To exchange information between members for the benefit of European trainers. d) To provide a network of contacts to assist each member to develop its policy and services to member trainers.

ETF REPRESENTATIVES Chairmanship: Guy Heymans (Belgium) Tel: +32 (0) 495 389 140 Email:

Vice Chairmanship:

Criquette Head-Maarek (France) Tel: +33 (0)3 44 57 25 39 Fax: +33 (0)3 44 57 58 85 Email:

Vice Chairmanship:

Christian von der Recke (Germany) Tel: +49 (022 54) 84 53 14 Fax: +49 (022 54) 84 53 15 Email:


Mrs Živa Prunk Tel: +38640669918 Email:


Roman Vitek Tel: +42 (0) 567 587 61 Fax: +42 (0) 567584 733 Email:


Erika Mäder Tel: +49 (0) 2151 594911 Fax: +49 (0) 2151 590542 Email:



Michael Grassick (Ireland) Tel: +353 (0) 45 522981 Mob: +353 (0) 87 2588770 Fax: +353 (0) 45 522982 Email:


Jaroslav Brecka Email:


Geert van Kempen Email:


Annike Bye Hansen Email:


Rupert Arnold Tel: +44 (0) 1488 71719 Fax: +44 (0) 1488 73005 Email:

Livia Prem Email:


Mauricio Delcher Sanchez Tel: +34 (0) 666 53 51 52 Email:


Julian McLaren Tel: +46 (0) 709 234597 Email:

SWEDEN SOUTH Jessica och Padraig Long Email:

Looking for Classic winners… BBAG graduate WINDSTOSS leads home a remarkable 1-2-3-4 in the „148. IDEE Deutsches Derby“ (Gr. I)

BBAG graduate DSCHINGIS SECRET winner of the “Preis von Berlin“ (Gr.I) winner of the “Grosser Hansa-Preis“ (Gr. II), “Gerling Preis“

October Mixed Sales

Friday, 20th October and Saturday, 21st October 2017




The TRM Trainer of the Quarter award has been won by Roger Charlton. Roger and his team will receive a selection of products from the internationally acclaimed range of TRM supplements, as well as a bottle of fine Irish whiskey. Oscar Yeadon

he Irish Champion Stakes marked Decorated Knight’s third Group 1 success of 2017 in a campaign which started seven months earlier, and he follows in the tradition of numerous other Charlton-trained horses who have enjoyed lengthy and successful careers. Owned by Saleh Al Homaizi and Imad Al Sagar, the five-year-old Decorated Knight joined the Charlton string nearly two years ago and his trainer says he was initially a horse who needed to learn to settle. “We worked Decorated Knight mainly by himself, and to his strengths. He gradually learned




Caroline Norris to settle and stay better, to finish off races to better effect. He’s a more mature horse now, he has travelled overseas a few times, and we have just kept him cantering away.” Charlton attributes the calmness of Decorated Knight in part to the tranquil setting of his Beckhampton Stables, in the Marlborough Downs, around 20 miles south west of Lambourn. Signs of progress were readily apparent last season as Decorated Knight won in Listed and then Group company, which led connections to take him across the Atlantic to the Grade 1 Arlington Million.

A pre-race injury meant that Decorated Knight didn’t run in America and brought an early end to his campaign, but he picked up in 2017 where he left off last year. After winning Lingfield’s Winter Derby trial on his seasonal debut, a month later he landed the Group 1 Jebel Hatta at Meydan. Further top-flight success came his way in the Tattersalls Gold Cup, as well as a fine effort when second to Highland Reel in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot. A below-par performance in the Juddmonte International at York was


attributed to the ground and a pulled muscle, and Decorated Knight wasn’t certain to run in the Irish Champion Stakes. However, Charlton was sufficiently impressed by his charge’s well-being to be swayed. “He bounced back so well from York we had to reconsider the Irish Champion Stakes,” says Charlton. “However, the week had been incredibly wet and the ground was just OK by race day.” On the flip side, while the drying ground came good, the field was stronger than expected, which included fellow British raiders, the Derby-fourth Eminent and the progressive Poet’s Word. “I was slightly surprised to see Eminent and Poet’s Word, but Andrea [Atzeni] gave Decorated Knight a masterful ride, timed to perfection.” As well as clinching his third Group 1, Decorated Knight stepped up again on his previous performances, which could lead connections to look aim for the Breeders’ Cup rather than the Ascot Champions Day meeting this autumn. The Charlton team are enjoying one of their strongest seasons to date, so while Decorated

Knight’s form comes during something of a purple patch for the stable, he is one of many older horses that Roger Charlton has successfully handled over the years. “There are a number of trainers who do very well with older horses, and it’s really what we are aiming to do. Ultimately,




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we want to improve the horse to the point where they can mix it at four and five years, and are consistent. Guiding an older horse through the programme book, perhaps having trained them from two years to four or five years, is pretty satisfying.”




Amie Karlsson


Svensk Galopp/Elina Bjรถrkund



Julian McLaren





Julian McLaren was suddenly thrown into a trainer’s role less than two years ago and quickly started to make a name for himself on the Scandinavian racecourses. Amie Karlsson caught up with the young Swedish trainer to discuss racing in Scandinavia, the new Stockholm racecourse, and how he overcome his fear of riding.


rowing up around racehorses, Julian McLaren always knew that he wanted to devote his life to horse racing. Having a trainer as a father and a racing administrator as a mother, the Swede has been a part of the Scandinavian racing community since before he could walk. “My dad, Alex McLaren, came to Sweden from Scotland in 1979 and started training near Stockholm shortly after,” Julian McLaren explains. “I grew up on the farm where he trained, and later we moved closer to the city and kept the horses at Täby Galopp.” As a teenager, he spent most of his free time at the track, and once he finished school, his involvement in the racing industry became more serious. Valet, jockey’s agent, starting stall handler, and stable hand are only a few of the many roles Julian McLaren, now 30, has experienced. “One of my most valuable experiences was spending six months in Dubai, working in the starting stalls. I got to work with some of the best horses, jockeys, and trainers in the world, something which I learned a lot from,” McLaren recalls. He also spent time with trainers in Scandinavia, including Wido Neuroth in Norway , “a trainer I really admire”, and travelled to Australia to work as an exercise rider for Robert Smerdon in Melbourne and Anthony Cummings in Sydney for a few months. However, the idea of exercise riding was initially very alien for the young Julian McLaren.



“I was actually afraid of riding until my early 20s”, McLaren admits. “The speed, power and size of horses scared me. But I loved being around them, bringing horses in and out, brushing them, washing them, and everything else. But I really didn’t enjoy riding, I was just way too afraid.” A horse called Hurry Lime eventually got McLaren to overcome his fear of riding. It was when working for trainer Fredrik Reuterskiöld at Jägersro in the south of Sweden that McLaren met the then three-year-old American import, Julian McLaren happily admits that he had got the gelding to thank for a lot. “He became my best friend! He was so kind, and really looked after the person he had on his back. I started riding him, and he built my confidence up. After only a few months I was riding five lots per day, including some of the best horses in the stable.” Not long after, Julian McLaren rode in his first amateur race. “I ended up riding in eight races, and won two of them, so I know the feeling of winning and I know the feeling of losing”, McLaren says with a laugh. In fact, one of the wins came aboard Hurry Lime, who then had moved to McLarens’ barn. When Julian McLaren talks about the horse, it is obvious that the chestnut still has got a special place in the young trainer’s heart. “Hurry Lime is still in the barn, although he retired last year. Nowadays, he is just my track pony, but he is very well. When I rode him the other day, he tried to take off with me. He still loves the game!” McLaren laughs. “And in the stable, he is like a dog. There is no need to put a headcollar on him when bringing him out to the walker, he just follows you anyway.” With a 20% strike rate as an amateur rider, it might have seemed tempting to continue the riding career. However, standing 6.2 ft tall, Julian McLaren certainly is not built like a jockey, and the strict diet regime and many hours in the sauna before each race was never going to be a sustainable venture. Although his race riding experience is limited, the trainer admits that the experience has come in handy in his new career. “It is definitely an advantage to have been riding myself, and particularly to have ridden in races. At least I have an idea of what it is like, so when jockeys come back after a race and tell me that this happened or that happened, I find it easier to understand it from their point of view.” In between other jobs and commitments, Julian McLaren kept helping out in his father’s training barn at Täby Galopp as often as he could. A dream of becoming



Julian and his late father Alex McLaren.

I WASN’T IN ANY RUSH, AND THE PLAN WAS TO EVENTUALLY TAKE OVER TRAINING WHEN DAD WANTED TO RETIRE. a trainer one day began to emerge. “I wasn’t in any rush, and the plan was to eventually take over training when dad wanted to retire”, McLaren says. “I bought a horse at the horses in training sale in England that I kept in dad’s barn but that I trained myself, just to get a soft start as trainer.” Julian McLaren saddled his first runner on 20th December 2015, unfortunately, that was as much of a soft start as the young Swede would get. Only a week later, the McLaren family’s life changed dramatically. Alex McLaren left the track a bit earlier than usual one morning as he was not feeling well. The same afternoon, he suffered from a heart attack, and later passed away in hospital. The Scandinavian horse racing community had lost a valuable and very respected member. “It was a huge shock for everyone. He was only 59, he was fit as a flea, and still riding out most days. No one saw that coming, especially not me.” Suddenly, Julian McLaren found himself with a barn full of horses that had to be looked after and exercised. “I knew my dad wanted me to continue with the horses and I had worked ISSUE 59 TRAINERMAGAZINE.COM



ABOVE: Julian’s growing string can be found in Barn 6 at Bro Park.



with him on and off besides my other jobs for several years. I knew all the horses and he had taught me well, so I thought I would give it a try. But it was a strange way to become a racehorse trainer; it was far from a natural progression.” “At the time, we only had ten horses, but still, it was a big change. Normally, you would walk into the barn and find dad there, saddling a horse or talking to an owner or working in the office. If I had any questions, I could just ask him. Suddenly, I could not do that anymore. Instead, I had to figure out what he would have done in the same situation. But it took me a while to realise that he wouldn’t be coming back,” McLaren recalls. Julian McLaren pulled himself together and decided to keep the business running, and all the owners stayed. Less than ten days later, he found himself in the winner’s enclosure when Lovemeloveme won at a snowy Täby Galopp. “It was a very emotional victory which meant a lot for many people. The horse is like a part of our family, and dad trained both her dam and her granddam.” More changes followed in the coming months, although these were of a much more positive nature. The Stockholm racecourse, Täby Galopp, where Alex McLaren had trained for many years, closed in May 2016. The city had grown closer to the racetrack and sky-


rocketed the value of the land. The racecourse was sold for redevelopment, which financed a new state-of-the-art racecourse and training centre in Bro, 40 minutes’ drive from the city centre of Stockholm. Julian McLaren admits that the thought of pursuing his father’s ambition of moving to the new racecourse, Bro Park, was something that made him even more determined to carry on with the training business. “Dad had looked forward to moving to Bro Park for years, and he was very engaged in the development of the new facilities.” Once the new training centre opened, Julian McLaren moved his whole training operation to a new-built barn with 20 boxes. Located in the countryside, the racecourse and training centre cover 500 acres and have large paddocks for the horses, which complies with the strict animal welfare laws in Sweden stating that you may not keep your horse in a stable for more than 16 hours a day, and that horses must be turned out daily in a paddock big enough for them to be able to trot and canter. “The move was a big change for everybody, but I really like it. The boxes are much bigger with plenty of airflow, and we have great facilities for horses as well as staff. The horses love it here; they really do look well.” says McLaren, who occupies barn 6 on the grounds.





Each Breeders’ Cup World Championships starter that travels from a location outside of California will receive a domestic $10,000 travel stipend OR an international $40,000 travel stipend. In addition, the ownership entity will receive six complimentary seats, a $1,500 hotel credit at an official participant hotel, VIP car transport to hotel from airport and complimentary VIP invitations to all official events. Purses and awards have now been increased to $28 million and each race pays down to the 8th finish position! It’s time to take your place on the world stage, pre-entry for the 2017 Breeders’ Cup World Championships closes on Monday, October 23. For your copy of the Horsemen’s Information Guide, visit or email the Breeders’ Cup Racing department below.

Breeders’ Cup World Championships

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BELOW: Dreams Cape wins on the opening day of Bro Park.


Bro Park has permanent stabling and training facilities for 300 horses, and a total of 18 trainers have the new track as their base. Julian McLaren explains that they can train on the 9.5f main dirt track as well as on a 5f straight tracck. The 10.5 5f maiin turff coursee is occcaasiionallly open n for gallops. Furthermore, there is a possibility to walk and trot on paths and d ffiie ield ds acro oss thee gro ounds. The new racecourse was inaugurated in June last year wit ith an attendance of more than 10,000 people, and it could not have got off to a better start for McLaren, who sad ddled daw wiin inneer on th he openiing day. “D Dreams Cape won one of the races in the international female jockey’s challenge, wiitth Chantal Sutherland aboard. It was defi finitely the highlight so far in my career, fin It meantt a lot to me, it was reallly someth hing special. I had hoped that he would be close to the pace but he had sometthing else on his miind d an nd was taiiled d offf lastt. He was so far behind the others that he couldn’t even be seen on the TV screens. But in the last furlong and a half, he shot past the rest of the fi field like a bullet and won quite fie comfortably. Chantal got some good speed out of him!”


By the end of the year, 72 starts had resulted in eight wiin ns for the stable, and the runners to places percentage was over 40%. Furthermore, the young McLaren had almost doubled the number of horses in the barn and had welcomed several neew ow wn n nerrs as welll as a sponso or, Skod da, to his team m. “I was very fortunate. I got off to a good start and wit ith thee heelp p of the own ners I cou uld d in nvest in neew horsses. I currently have seven two-year-olds in the barn, one of which is a very nice fil illy by Kodiac that we purchased at the Doncaster breeze-u up sale in the spring. She was third in herr fi fi t start the other week.”” first At the moment Julian McLaren has got 16 horses in the barn, and that is a number that well could increase after yearling sales in Scandinavi via and the rest of Europe via thiis autumn. He has no inttention to setttle w wiith i h 16 horses and explains that he is hoping to expand the training opeerattion ovver the comiing yearss. “I want to grow as a trainer, and hopefu fu ully I wi will i be competing wi with the big boys soon. My short wit rt term goal is to be rt-t among the top-ffi five trainers in Sweden. Longer term, I would fiv like to see my horses racing in the rest of Europe, and Dubai.”

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ABOVE: Julian’s yard favourite, Hurry Lime.


When asked about his strengths as a trainer, Julian McLaren stops to think. His girlfriend, jockey Malin Holmberg, who plays an important role in the business, gives her opinion, “Julian has a very good eye for a horse. He has the ability to see each horse as an individual, and to figure out what they need. And he is very adaptable and flexible, both when it comes to horses and people.” Training racehorses in Scandinavia might not be the fastest way to wealth and fame, but Julian McLaren has never regretted his choice. “I am living my dream. I get to work with animals. I love training an individual horse to be as good as possible, and get them to the winner’s enclosure. And I get to meet a lot of people.” From a business point of view, it has been going well, although training always brings its challenges. “The prize money is great, and it is increasing. But it can be difficult to find good staff these days. And it is also hard to get new owners, very hard. As a young trainer you need someone to back you up properly and support you with good horses… and good horses cost a lot of money.” Rome wasn’t built in a day, but McLaren hopes that the new racecourse can help create more interest for horse racing in Stockholm, and make it easier to attract more owners, both local and from overseas. ”It really is a great place for owners and racegoers with a good atmosphere and a brilliant restaurant. And you can get very close to the horses, particularly in the turf races.” “I also hope that more trainers from abroad will take a chance to send over horses to Stockholm and Bro Park to compete. The prize money is great here and we only have a total of around 1,000 horses in training in Sweden at the moment, so, naturally, the racing is not going to be as


JULIAN HAS A VERY GOOD EYE FOR A HORSE. HE HAS THE ABILITY TO SEE EACH HORSE AS AN INDIVIDUAL, AND TO FIGURE OUT WHAT THEY NEED. competitive as Great Britain or Ireland. Furthermore, we’re only a short flight away from pretty much anywhere you want in Europe, and we often race on Sundays, so it could be a good opportunity for owners to go to Sweden for a weekend break.” McLaren explains with enthusiasm in his voice. His passion for horse racing is obvious, and that might be a reason to why he hasn’t settled for just one role in the industry. Beside training, Julian McLaren also works as a TV-presenter on some race days. “I really enjoy it! I have always been a show monkey and I enjoy being on TV. And it’s a good way to get your name out there.” However, for the most part, Julian McLaren can be found in his barn at Bro Park. He is very hands-on and does a lot of the ground work in the barn himself. “Normally I have three freelance riders per day who come in and ride four or five lots each. I don’t ride much myself at the moment. It happens, but not very often, just Hurry Lime, the old man!”

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xercise induced pulmonary haemorrhage has been a concern for trainers for a very long time. The historic record of EIPH in horses such as ‘Bleeding Childers’, a son of the Darley Arabian, a founder of the modern thoroughbred, shows that ‘bleeding’ as it is commonly known is an age-old problem. The prevalence of EIPH during high intensity exercise, such as racing, is relatively high, but influenced greatly by how it is diagnosed. For example, the prevalence of EIPH is quite low when the appearance of blood from the nostrils (epistaxis) is used as the diagnostic criteria. Unsurprisingly, it is much higher when more rigorous investigative techniques such as endoscopy or bronchioalveolar lavage are used. Additionally, the prevalence increases when horses are repeatedly examined. In clinical terms, it has been suggested that if you look hard enough diagnostically, and often enough, almost all horses will show a degree of EIPH with racing at some time. A large Australian study has also reported that there is a proven heritability or genetic element to this condition. Notwithstanding this, EIPH presents a major concern for horses in training, as it often leads to loss in training days and may impact on race performance, although this seems to be dependent on the degree or grade of EIPH involved. A period of absence from the racecourse can also be a requirement of some racing jurisdictions, e.g. the British Horseracing Authority in the UK, following epistaxis, where blood is seen visually from one or both nostrils. Public perception is also relevant, especially when the public mood puts racing under tighter scrutiny in terms of animal welfare. There is also a mood for change with regards to the previously widespread use of pre-race medications such as furosemide (which has been widely used to treat EIPH) in countries such as the USA. The HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival had recently announced that its races in the US will be ‘lasix-free’, which has been widely welcomed by trainers worldwide. In some racing jurisdictions, nasal strips can be used which support the tissues of the nasal cavity helping to keep the upper




airway fully open during exercise. There is evidence to suggest that nasal strips reduce upper airway resistance. Some prominent veterinarians and exercise physiologists have proposed that there is sufficient scientific evidence to support their use in the management of EIPH. However, despite being a non-invasive tool their use is not currently allowed in all racing jurisdictions including in the UK. Whilst there is always a drive to discover new medications that will effectively control or treat EIPH within the rules of racing, diet and other complementary practices have always been of parallel interest to trainers.


The central paradigm to EIPH is that the membrane layer that exists between the alveolar air and the blood vessels is miniscule, representing a physiological cliff edge. This membrane must be sufficiently thin to allow efficient gas exchange, but this makes it very vulnerable to physical damage when under increased physiological stress, e.g. during hard work and racing when a massive increase in gaseous exchange is required. From previous published research, EIPH seems to be a progressive disease, with time in racing being a significant factor. A current theory is that there is a progressive narrowing of the pulmonary veins, as a



result of strengthening of these vessel walls due to smooth muscle expansion or hypertrophy, as well as collagen deposition in the vessels themselves. Interestingly, in human studies where pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the vessels supplying the lungs) exists, medics have also described calcium deposits or plaques in the pulmonary vessels, which would contribute to a loss of elasticity. This was also investigated in horses in a Canadian study of 108 racing horses that had died or were euthanized. In this study, the authors found a high presence of calcium deposition within the tunica media (muscular middle layer) of the pulmonary arteries. My interest of course is due to the dietary implication of this theory and it may be an example of barking up the wrong ‘vitamin tree’. Vitamin K has featured for many years in supplements seeking to nutritionally address the issue of EIPH in the miss-held belief that inappropriate clotting is involved in its mechanism. Vitamin K has a well-defined role in clotting and largely synthetic forms of vitamin K (menadione) have been employed in equine nutrition to

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‘solve’ this non-issue. However, vitamin K also has a central role to play in calcium homeostasis by activating GLA proteins in the body, including osteocalcin and matrix GLA protein. Matrix GLA protein is responsible for scavenging calcium from areas of unwanted deposition such as blood vessel walls and soft tissue and driving its repatriation back into bone. ‘Dr Green’ seems to be on the case again, as vitamin K1 (phylloquinone), the predominant natural source of which is actively growing green pasture, holds the key to activation of these GLA proteins in horses. The widely used synthetic vitamin K or menadione does not exhibit this function. It would certainly be interesting to see whether activation of GLA protein is sub-optimal in EIPH-positive horses compared to EIPH-negative horses. Fresh and actively growing grass is of course notably absent from most racing diets, with the exception perhaps of places like New Zealand. It is also noteworthy that vitamin K1 in the normal diet is unstable and is rapidly lost from pasture that is




conveerted to hay or haylage or other harvested d forage (access at ww ww w Vitamin K- the forrgotten vitamin). The oveerarching focus of nutrition in relation to EIPH has been to tackle perceived pinch points, or potential weakness, in the horse’s physiological systems that may contribute to the expression of EIPH. Typical areas for focus have been collagen synthesis, blood clotting, inflammation, respiratory challenge, water balance and haemodynamics. Given that at the current time research scientists do not have a definitive explanation of the mechanism or aetiology for EIPH and there are no treatment options with 100% certainty, it is difficult to see how a simple dietary intervention could prevent EIPH in isolation. However, nutrition offers a relatively benign method to potentially reduce some of the risk factors that may be involved in the expression of EIPH and potentially reduce its severity. Vitamin C, either in isolation or in combination with other nutrients with antioxidant activity, has also been looked at in relation to airway inflammation and capillary fragility which could be regarded as risk factors for EIPH. Vitamin C is the main water-soluble antioxidant found in lung lining fluid and is also required for a key stage in collagen synthesis,

which adds strength to blood vessel walls. Whilst no direct benefit of vitamin C on the instance of EIPH has been reported, there are several studies which suggest an improvement in airway inflammation as a consequence of supplementation. Certainly, as part of a multifaceted approach, normalisation of airway inflammation must surely be beneficial. However, supplementation is not necessarily the answer, as a good racing diet should provide sufficient antioxidants and their co-factors and horses do not have a dietary requirement for vitamin C under normal circumstances. However, clinical need


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OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS HAVE BEEN INVESTIGATED FOR THEIR ABILITY TO INCREASE THE FLUIDITY, FLEXIBILITY OR EASE OF TR RAVEL A OF RED BLOOD CELLS THROUGH BLOOD VESSELS, WHICH COULD POTENTIALLY REDUCE RESISTANCE TO THE FLOW OF BLOOD DURING EXERCISE. supplementation w wiith i a bioavailable form of vviitamin i C may be a beneffit. i A Aiiirway infflammation l is certainly an issue in horses in training and any measure to normalise this should be benefficial. i A low-dust envi vironment, i high-quality ty feed and forage wi with i a microbiological fitness i to feed being essential. Feeding haylage or hay, in conjunction wi with i an appropriate will i also proven protocol for steaming wi help to reduce the drivers of airway infflammation l to which horses in training can be exposed. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator through its action in relaxing vascular smooth muscle and it is produced locally by the action of nitric oxide syn ynthase. n Some feed supplements have drawn wn on this action to suggest the beneffit i of various ingredients that act as precursors or stimulants of nitric oxide syynth n hesiss, although, a clinical trial to investigate



the eff ffect f of inhalation of nitric oxide resulted in a negative eff ffect f on EIPH. Omega 3 fatt tty ty acids have been investigated for their ability ty to increase the fluidity l tyy, flexibility l ty or ease of travel of red blood cells through blood vessels, which could potentially reduce resistance to the flow l of blood during exercise. Additionally, omega 3 fatt tty ty acids are anti-infflammatory l ry in nature compared to their omega 6 counterpart rtts, which may also have some benefficial i eff ffect f on airway inffllammation. There have been three studies now published in horses that suggest that supplementation w wiith i long chain fatt tty ty acids DHA and EPA can at least reduce the severity ty of EIPH. The omega 3 fatt tty ty acid content of a racehorse’s diet is normally quite low, as pasture represents one of the most signiffiicant sources under normal conditio ons. A An naly n ysiss of Ryeggrass, Fesscue and Orchard grass in Canada has shown

that the parent omega 3 fatt tty ty acid alpha linolenic acid is quantitatively the most signiffiicant fatt tty ty acid in pasture. However, the conversion of linolenic acid to the physiologi gically i more fu fu unctional DHA and EPA is relatively ineff ffi fiicient at about 5% conversion. Other ingredients such as salmon oil, tuna oil and cert rttain algae can off ffer f a richer source of DHA and EPA, although this must be balanced against the volume of pasture and hence linolenic acid that could be potentially be consumed by a horse at pasture for part rt of the day. In summary ryy, it is very ry unlikely that there are any nutritional panaceas for EIPH at present, or on the horizon. However, there are a few practices and nutritional factors, which collectively under veterinary ry superv rvviiision may help to move horses at risk of EIPH a litt tttle ffu u urt rtther away from the proverbial cliff ff edge. In addition, the availability of passture, in n terms of omega 3 and vit itamin K1 intake, as well as the benefi ficial eff fic ffect of a non-stable ffe envir ironment on airway infl flammation fla should perhaps be investigated fur urt rther in rth horses at risk of EIPH. However, giv iven the suggested genetic component to this disease the question of desirability perhaps needs to be asked in parallel.

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ICONIC G AL L OPS Lissa Oliver


hy are Europe’s public traaining areas so well know wn? Partt off their uniqueness and fame rests wit ith the very concept of public traainiing grounds. There are very few w public faciliities th hrou ughout the world d and he most common training practice is the use of th racecourse tracks. In the majority of countries trainers are based at racetracks and simply usee the racecourrse facilities.

Alamy, Enrico Querci

While many of Europe’s renowne ned training centres are situated close to a racecourse, or are run in conjunction wit ith that tracck, they are, neveertheless, separate facilities offe fering a w wiid ide choice of gallops and surfface,, oftteen overr a vast acreage. Th he benefi fit to the horse is varieety and fit chan nge off sceneryy wiitho outt impacting on its daily routine or necessitating travel. For the trainer, a choice of gallops and surfaces can be tailored to a horse’s indiviid dual needs and prevailing weather.





Typical of this, though less widely known, is Hoppegarten in Germany, where 13-20 public trainers are based. A common factor shared by many of Europe’s renowned gallops is Hoppegarten’s sand-based subsoil, allowing the racecourse track and various gallops to drain freely. As a result, coupled with modern artificial watering systems employed by groundsmen in drying weather, extreme ground conditions are avoided and consistent work surfaces are provided all year round. Hoppegarten is home to the biggest training grounds in Germany, encompassing over 500 acres of woodland, with 10km of walking and trotting paths, and since 2013 it has been granted the status of a Landmark of National Importance. A year earlier, Roland Dzubasz achieved the feat of becoming the first German Champion Trainer from Hoppegarten in reunited Germany, helping to restore the area’s status to its pre-1945 glory days when most Champion Trainers were based there. Dzubasz currently has 60 horses in training.

The historic 430-acre Neuenhagen training track, established in 1910, was purchased by racecourse owner Gerhard Schöningh in 2015, saving it from threat of closure, and has a track and in-field of 190 acres, set within woodland and agricultural land, less than 20km from the centre of Berlin. It offers three oval turf tracks between 16-24m wide, with a total length of nearly 9000m, and a 3400m dirt track. Schöningh has claimed, “My ambition is to restore racing and training at Hoppegarten and Neuenhagen to its historic number one position in Germany. The dynamic capital Berlin provides us with a good backdrop for this plan.” Beside the Hoppegarten racecourse itself is the Bollendorfer training complex, with two tracks, one of 2750m with a 900m straight and the other 3200m with a 1000m straight. A 10km riding and training trail network adds further variation and options. In 2008, complementing the existing subsoil, 8,500 tonnes of sand was poured as a substructure of the supporting layer to a 22cm thickness, with a further 3,500 tonnes of special sand providing the regenerated bottom layer.





Like most of the gallops featured here, Chantilly is set on a clay and limestone ground, rich in limon soil, which is stoneless and was deposited by wind during the Ice Age. This same soil base is shared by Normandy, also within the Paris Basin geological area in which Chantilly sits. The famous Aigles area covers more than 300 acres, of which over 170 acres are grass. Marin Le Cour Grandmaison is tasked with coordinating the teams looking after both the racecourse and training grounds and regularly monitors the quality of the tracks and day-to-day running of the training centre, which is under the supervision of Chantilly Training Centre and Racecourse Director, Matthieu Vincent. There is also a specialised team for the maintenance of the sand and fibresand tracks, headed by Jean François Colombel, and the turf gallops are overseen by Aigles manager, Etienne Briche. Jean Luc Gache, manager of the Lamorlaye-Coye La Forêt Team, is a jumps specialist and heads

the team that looks after the many jump tracks and their 86 obstacles in Lamorlaye and Coye La Forêt. Such an array of grounds staff is vital for a training area that is home to 79 trainers who between them employ 1,000 work riders. Gouvieux’s Aigles training area was established in 1900 and the only significant change came in 2000, when a tunnel was constructed beneath Highway 16 to allow the safe passage of horses from the Bois SaintDenis onto the Aigles tracks. Aigles offers 13 gallops, including the round Mathet track, straight Sea Bird, and straight Réservoirs with both turf and all-weather options. The Perth has a Flat track and adjoining jumps track, with a lane of hurdles and chase fences. A seperate training area, Bois Larris, boasts six gallops, including the renowned Piste des Lions. A further area, Lamorlaye and Coye La Forêt, caters predominantly for the jumping horses of Chantilly, with eight choices of gallop, including the All Along, Camargo (jumping) and Lamorlaye round tracks.





The France Galop-own wned n Deauvi viille-La Touques racecourse hosts the busiest programme in France, w wiit ith 41 race days, and is known wn as the “Four Seasons Racecourse”. During August 600 horses train at the centre, but only 300 are permanent residents throughout the year. Fift fteen trainers are based in yards that fte border the 185-acre Deauvi ville training vil centre, wi with up to 50 horses each. As well wit as the many training tracks available, they can also take their horses onto the beach directly from the stable, which is unique in European training centres. Olivi vier Louit, Director, is in charge vie of organising and coordinating the activi vities of the training centre and must vit



also ensure the successful staging of the year-round fixtures i at the racecourse. Tony Vancayeezele is the track manager and d is responsiible for botth the traiiniing centre’s tracks and racecourse tracks, wiitth specialist knowledge in turf and fi fibresand fib surfaces and their care. The racecourse and training grounds are built over what was once dried up marshland, but shares the rich clay soil that we so oft ften see beneath our bestfte known wn gallops. Despite the long history of the popular racecourse, the permanent training centre itself was only established in 1982. Its 50-acres of tracks include a turf track, a round 2200m track and a straight 1600m track, maintained by 25 full-time staff ff. ff.

An up-and-coming alternative to Chantilly is Pau in the south-west of France, helped onto the worldwide map by the successes of Pau-based Jean-Claude Rouget and François Rohaut. Unlike the other French training centres, it has more in common with the Curragh and Newmarket in that it is founded on top of a limestone and sandstone sub-surface. Currently home to 20 trainers, employing 200 staff, there are 700 horses in training there, but those numbers are swelled by an additional 400 horses relocated for the winter months. Three new barns were built in 2002 to accommodate those horses availing of the milder winter conditions and training complex. The 40km of tracks are harrowed daily and an irrigation system is in place to ensure adequate drainage and a perfect surface is maintained throughout the year. Like Chantilly and others, the sub-soil is a silica-clay base. The 173-acre training centre at Pau has 12km of turf tracks, including an irrigated 1600m straight gallop. There are a further 12km of irrigated sand tracks and a large schooling area. A dedicated footbridge for horses enables their ease of crossing from the fibresand tracks to the racecourse and there is also an equine veterinary clinic within the centre.





The varying gradients of the downland on which Lambourn sits is part of the Southern England Chalk Formation, but interestingly London Clay is also in the geological make-up. In 2006 the Jockey Club Estates took on the management of the 500 acres of training grounds and has since invested heavily in the Mandown Gallops, with two artificial gallops completely re-laid and two refurbished. This has resulted in an increase in the number of horses in training in Lambourn. There are currently over 600 horses in training with the 30 trainers based in Lambourn. The grounds are also by used on a casual basis by up to 120 horses a month. Turf gallops and schooling grounds are available alongside artificial tracks and the Gallops Board notifies trainers which turf gallops are open. Also similar to Newmarket, horses can move across the gallops safely on an increasingly extensive system of horsewalks. The majority of the facilities are located on Mandown Gallops, to the north of Upper Lambourn, but there are also a 1200m fibresand gallop to the west, a 1500m Long Hedge Gallop to the east and the 1600m Polytrack at Kingsdown, north-west of Upper Lambourn. The team responsible for all of their maintenance are Gallopsmen, headed by Will Riggall. NH horses, of which there are many, are catered for with a principal schooling ground consisting of a 300m all-weather strip, with three EasyFix chase fences and three Easy-Fix hurdles. There are also elsewhere four intermediate fences, four flights of hurdles, poles and barrels on the Aintree Ground and three flights of baby hurdles. When it is not possible to use the main NH schooling ground, an area of training ground is leased privately by the Jockey Club Estates to which schooling facilities are transferred. This area is open from April/May to October/November.


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The Pisa racecourse and training centre is set within the magnificent park of San Rossore, spanning almost 60,000 acres, and is considered to be Italy’s finest training centre. The park itself stretches along the coast between Viareggio and Livorno and contains the largest pine forest in Tuscany. The racecourse was founded in 1829 and stages 50 days of racing, from October to April, and the Cotoni Straights were the first training tracks to be used there, in 1842. The training grounds were pronounced a national training centre by the Italian Jockey Club in 1887. The gallops make good use of the natural gradients and drainage of the land, which sits on the most geologically historic of Europe’s training centres, having been formed from countless natural disasters, flooding and the silting up of ancient shipping channels. What has been left behind as a sub-surface is fluviolacustrine, a rock that was once a riverbed, together with the more familiar mudstone and sand. Since 1974 the centre has become a permanent base for many trainers, having always been a popular base



for the winter season. In the winter of 1967/68 Vincent O’Brien sent over some of his team, which included Sir Ivor, who benefited from the mild climate to subsequently win The Derby. New developments such as the Runway Track have since enhanced the historic facilities. The Cotoni consist of four straight turf tracks of 1900m, 12-30m wide, and two 1900m fibresand slopes. There are also numerous pathways between tracks. An automatic irrigation system allows their use even during the summer season, when the ground remains perfect. At the end of the gallops is an area of 32,000sqm for horses to relax and cool off. To the east of the racecourse is a 1500m round turf track, 12m wide, and within its centre is a matcing 1400m fibresand track. Set within a meadow are three NH corridors for the schooling and exercise of horses over hurdles and steeplechase fences. In addition to the training grounds, the San Rossore estate includes an equine hospital and a centre of education for apprentice jockeys and stable staff, ensuring it will remain a hub for Italian trainers.


The beautiful training grounds at Pisa.


The first official races in France took place on the Achères plain, close to the Chateau at Maisons-Laffitte, and its 320-acre estate remains today exactly as it was then, now home to 20km of turf gallops, 10km of sand gallops, and 30km of warm-up tracks and access paths, with a 1.5km all-weather gallop. The important sub-structure of the grounds is the clay and limestone of the Paris Basin, like Chantilly and Deauville. By 1881, regular race meetings led to a number of trainers setting up on the grounds of the racetrack and the 1800m Jacques Laffitte Avenue, running along the perimeter wall of the Château’s old park, became the first training track. It still remains the backbone of the training centre today. Soon after, training extended to the forest tracks of La Muette and Chaillou, as well as on the Achère grass track, and Rond Adam and Rond de l’Epine later followed for jump horses, who have traditionally dominated the horse numbers here. Rond Poniatowski and Rond Boileau were added for the Flat and in 1970 the training centre expanded for the last time with the laying down of the gallops Lamballe and Penthièvre. 2,500 horses are currently trained in the centre, where 85 trainers are based.

The Curragh

The Curragh training grounds, owned and managed by the Curragh Racecourse, are the second-largest in Europe, set in 1,500 acres and boasting 113km of grass gallops, alongside allweather surfaces and peat gallops. Set on limestone, mudstone and sandstone, they require good drainage systems, but the Curragh Plain is naturally quick drying and offers a good cushion. All of the facilities are used daily by 1,000 horses in the care of 60 local trainers and a permanent team of 15 specialists, led by Pat Kelly, maintain the grounds all year round. As well as 113km of turf gallops, which includes the famous 2000m woodchip Old Vic, there are 19km of peat gallops and eight all-weather tracks, made up of one polytrack, two fibresand and five woodchip. There are plenty of options for jump horses and a new 400m all-weather schooling strip has been added in recent years, with both Easyfix hurdles and Easyfix fences in place, complementing the extensive schooling facilities over both fences and hurdles already on offer. As Curragh-based trainer John Oxx has pointed out, “Curragh Trainers are reaping the benefits of the significant investment in the facilities. The commitment to maintain and upkeep the gallops to the highest standards has ensured that trainers based on the Curragh continue to win top races all over the world.”





Geologically, Newmarket shares the same make-up underfoot as the Curragh, set on limestone, mudstone and sandstone. It is the largest training area in the world and covers 2,500 acres and is used daily by 2,500 horses, in the care of 80 trainers based in the town. The town divides the training grounds into two, Bury side to the east and Racecourse side to the west. Each side is maintained by a skilled and dedicated team of 12 Heathmen, under the leadership of the training grounds manager, Nick Patton. Colin Driver oversees Bury side, Mick Hewitt Racecourse side and in charge of The Links is Rob Achner. Owned and managed by the Jockey Club Estates, the grounds are carefully managed and, as in Lambourn, not every gallop is in use on a daily basis. Gallops can be open seasonally or alternated daily. They include 80km of turf gallops and over 22km of artificial tracks, linked by an extensive system of horsewalks, so that horses can pass through from one end of town to the other without going on a public road, other than to cross at a dedicated crossing. The grounds on each side are divided into three main categories - Winter (and Yearling) Ground, Spring Ground and Summer Ground. The gallops are arranged to provide appropriate facilities for a horse’s age, sex and stage of career. No area of turf on the Heath is used more than once in any year, and much is used only every two years. Fresh ground is also provided each day as appropriate and gallops are closed if conditions are unsuitable. There are Gallops Boards, changed daily, to notify trainers which gallops are open. For example, a 1600m Water Gallop is used in drought conditions on Racecourse side on Tuesdays, Wednesdays,




Fridays and Saturdays. The Flat Gallop opens in March until the end of the Flat season and the 3200m Gallop is used in the summer when the Flat Gallop becomes too firm. The Lilmkilns on Bury side offer 205 acres of grass gallops and the famed Warren Hill, which rises over 40m in the final 400m, has two artificial tracks, both 900m, one a Polytrack, the other a Mactrack. Trainers can also make use of a long Peat Moss Gallop of 3200m and the 1600m Long Hill Gallop is open when the Limkilns are closed. While that may all sound confusing, with 2,500 horses resident, accommodating their needs, balanced with the upkeep and maintenance of the grounds, requires a fair level of knowledge and skill. And not every trainer in Newmarket is a Flat specialist - there are facilities for steeplechasers and hurdlers as well, based at The Links.





Middleham Moor

The largest concentration of trainers in Britain is not to be found in Newmarket or Lambourn, but surprisingly in North Yorkshire, thanks to two historic training centres that have been home to Classic w wiiinners for 200 years. The area is rich in limestone, a key factor in attracting thoroughbred handlers to an area, and the origins of the thoroughbred are rooted here, w wiith i the Darley Arabian, Byerley Turk and Godolphin Arabian all based in North Yorkshire and mating w wiith i local mares. 100 trainers are based in North Yorkshire, wi with i 3,300 horses in their charge, and Mark Johnston and Richard Fahey consistently send out over 100 wi winners i a season, their own facilities complemented by the scenic gallops on Middleham Moor, some 50 acres set in Lower Wensleydale, in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales. Running alongside the 400m-wi wide i lengt gthy t ridge of the Middleham Low Moor are the gallops most commonly used and the Middleham High Moor alsso provid ides a furrther choicee off gallop ps and breathtaking scenery. The Middleham Town Council has the responsibility of the area and takes great pride in the local employment and tourism generated by the training centre.


While Epsom Common lies on thick London Clay, the training centre and Downs themselves are on excellently natural-draining chalkland. Managed by the Jockey Club Estates, there are currently 11 local trainers and up to 200 horses using the gallops, which cover 250



acres. There are over 5km of artificial gallops and 10km of turf gallops. The last Derby winner to be trained locally was April The Fifth in 1932, trained by Tom Walls, but Classic success has been earned far more recently, when Epsom-based Laura Mongan sent out Harbour Law to win the 2016 St Leger.


Malton is also part of North Yorkshire’s training centre, although its best known Langton Wold gallops, 100 acres of downland, are just as close to the town of Norton, which is where most of the local trainers are based. Norton is separated from Malton by the River Derwent, and it’s here within the town itself, as well as on the outskirts, visitors will find most of the stables and see strings of horses passing through the town every morning. As well as the Langton Wold gallops, the area also offers the Highfield Gallops. The town of Malton itself is surrounded by rural farmland and has been associated with the training of thoroughbreds for more than 300 years. With 30 trainers nearby and more than 1,000 horses, it is the third largest training centre in Britain and, like Middleham, comes under the governance of the Town Council.

It is always to be hoped that similar care and investment of the historic Epsom training grounds will lead to the same increase enjoyed by Lambourn, and its close proximity to London may also prove a positive factor, just as Hoppegarten is feeding off the vibrancy of nearby Berlin.

Saturday 25 November RACE




Betfair Exchange Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)

2m 6f 177y



Betfair Steeple Chase (Grade 1)

3m 24y




12pm, Tuesday, 31 October

Betfair Handicap Steeple Chase (0-135)

3m 4f 97y



Betfair Exchange Handicap Hurdle

2m 2f 191y



Betfair Handicap Steeple Chase (0-145)

3m 24y



Betfair Newton Novices’ Hurdle (Listed)

1m 7f 144y



Betfair Graduation Steeple Chase

2m 5f 127y




12pm, Monday, 20 November

Travel allowances will be paid to overseas runners. For further details, please contact Kirkland Tellwright (Clerk of Course) on +44 7748 181595




TH E B IO M E OF THE LUNG Dr Emmanuelle van Erck – Westergren, DVM, PhD, ECEIM Wilhelm Westergren, Alamy




Of bugs and horses

A couple of weeks ago, I was on an emergency call to a training yard. Half of the horses had started coughing overnight, some had fever and, as you’d expect when bad karma decides to make a point, the two stars of the premises due to face their greatest challenge to date the following week, were dull and depressed. A thick and yellow discharge was oozing from their noses. It was not long before the yard became the typical scene of a bad strangles nightmare. The bacteria involved in strangles outbreaks are Streptococcus equi equi, highly aggressive and contagious germs, that spread fast and cause disruption in days of training and mayhem in tight racing schedules. So what inevitably comes to mind when you hear the words germs or bacteria? No nice and friendly terms. As veterinarians, we have been taught that microorganisms are responsible for an endless list of gruesome diseases and conditions: abscesses, pneumonia, septicaemia ... you name it. They need to be identified and eradicated. Thank heavens; we still have an arsenal of antibiotics to get rid of the damn bugs. But recent research in human “microbiome” is making us think twice, especially as we aim to hit hard and large with antibiotics.

Never alone

Your healthy and thriving self, likewise your horse, host millions and trillions of bacteria. The “microbiota” is that incredibly large collection of microorganisms that have elected you and your horse as their permanent home. The microbiota is constituted not only by an extremely diverse variety of resident bacteria, but also by viruses, fungi and yeasts that multiply in every part of your external and internal anatomy. The discovery of this prosperous microbial community has triggered fascinating new research. It has unveiled the unsuspected links that exist between health, disease and the microbiota. In simple words, these microorganisms are vital to your strength and healthiness. The microbes that compose the microbiota outnumber our own cells by 10 to 1 to the extent that the genetic information (or “genome”) you carry is over 99% microbial! And that is what researchers call the “microbiome” or “biome”: the collection of genetic information carried by your microbiota. Fortunately, the very large majority of bacteria are either beneficial or harmless and only a very tiny fringe is represented by potentially pathogenic strains. These microorganisms have evolved with us over thousands of years and the stability of this symbiotic ecosystem has important implications on our health status.





We definitely know that gut microbes influence amongst many other things, our metabolism, i.e. our capacity to process energy.

A gut feeling for biome

Research on the biome started with the study of the digestive ecosystem of mice. Researchers from Washington University showed that when they transplanted faeces of obese mice in the gut of lean mice, these became obese and vice-versa. In other words, the composition of the gut biome could be said to influence morbid weight-gain. Similar studies recently conducted in humans in the Netherlands came to the same conclusions. We do not yet have all the keys to understanding the underlying processes, but we definitely know that gut microbes influence amongst many other things, our metabolism, i.e. our capacity to process energy. This opened up tremendous possibilities to improving fitness and treating diseases. The research on the biome has since grown at an exponential rate, covering much larger areas. It was further discovered that disorders in the gut biome, leading to the proliferation of the wrong microorganisms,



were responsible for a very wide-range of disorders or even chronic conditions that were far from the gut, such as arthritis, depression or asthma. The biome also seems to be critical in regulating our immune system to raise the alarm when enemies are identified and to modulate its response. The dramatic rise in autoimmune diseases could be a consequence of dietary changes that have disrupted our healthy microbiota.

The lung biome

Each organ, from the gut to the skin, hosts a specific biome; even the respiratory tract has its own “biomic� population. It was initially believed that healthy lungs were sterile, as samples taken from the lower airways did not yield any bacterial or fungal colony growth and cultures would only come back positive in cases of infection, as in cases of pneumonia for instance. With the development of culture-independent techniques, which have become cheaper and more readily available, research is now showing that the lower respiratory tract entertains a rich microbial community: the lung biome. It is increasingly clear that the biome present in a healthy lung can be very different from that of diseased lungs. It would be logical of course in cases of infection, but it also seems to appear in more chronic ailments such as cystic fibrosis and asthma. The healthy biome can be significantly disrupted by smoking, pollution or the (ab)use of antibiotics. In humans, the lungs of a foetus are allegedly sterile, meaning free from any microbe. Immediately after birth, the lung microbiota is seeded through contact with the mother’s microbes. The microbes rapidly colonize all mucosal surfaces of the infant. The colonization is first identical across the different body sites and organs, but within days, the microbiota quickly differentiates into site-specific communities. In the lungs, the quality of the environment plays a pivotal role in selecting the biome. Similar processes would occur in other mammalian species such as horses.



Who’s who

BELOW: Horses, like humans, can also suffer from asthma.


To characterise the lung biome, it is necessary to sample the airways. The biome is usually harvested and studied from BAL samples (broncho-alveolar lavage). Because of the variety and complexity of the microorganisms present in the airways, these are grouped into categories which scientists call phylae. They carry strange names such as Firmicutes, Bacteroides, or Proteobacteria, with the most common genera being Streptococcus and Pseudomonas. The lung biome, which is believed to be stable (or at least temporarily) in healthy subjects, is now being considered as an evolving microbial population, which may, in given circumstances, evolve to cause disease. Initially, the research studies on the respiratory microbiome focused on bacteria and the impact they could have on lung health. But it has become apparent that the bacteria only represent only part of the entire biome and that other non-bacterial organisms, including viruses and fungi, are as likely to play a role in the regulation of health and disease. Fungi have always been tricky to culture and identify: they are modest and bashful little microbes and will only grow when asked nicely, given the right conditions. Thanks to advances in next-generation sequencing, a number of fungi, which had not been previously detected by culture methods, have been identified in the lungs. As a result, the fungal lung biome has been under keener scrutiny. There is more and more evidence that it has a significant clinical effect in cases of chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. To thicken the plot further, the fungal and bacterial biomes interact and team up and develop the


capacity to fiddle with their host’s immune response, causing inflammation and disrupting lung function, thus essentially actively participating to the progress of disease. There is a highly complex network at stake: despite geographical distance it now seems that the lung biome and the gut biome are in constant communication and interaction: like the political leaders of two superpowers, they sometimes ally and sometimes declare war (to each other or to their host).

Asthma and the lung biome

Asthma is one of the most studied diseases in human medicine. It is a particularly unpleasant condition in which the airways swell, tighten and produce extra mucus, making the simple act of breathing difficult and sometimes anxious. Horses also suffer from asthma: inflammatory airway disease, heaves and “COPD” have now been recognised as being various forms of equine asthma. Any form of asthma, even milder forms, can markedly reduce a horse’s performance and in more acute forms be debilitating. Here is the respiratory system overreacting for you, often in the face of a dusty and contaminated environment. If the symptoms of asthma can be controlled, the underlying condition itself can never be definitively cured. Studies on the human lung biome have reported major differences in the microbiota of asthmatic patients in comparison to healthy controls. There appears to be a greater bacterial diversity and burden in asthmatics, with the severity of the disease and degree of airway “hyperreactivity” correlating to the amount and diversity of certain biome warlords. Another study carried out on infants demonstrated that those with lungs contaminated


THE STUDY REVEALS THAT HORSES KEPT AT PASTURE HAD VERY DIFFERENT BIOMES IN COMPARISON TO HORSES KEPT INDOORS. by harmful bacteria after birth were at an increased risk of developing asthma compared with infants who were not born with the harmful bacteria in their lungs. The battle between good and evil takes place at the microscopic level, deep within the remotest dead-end airways. The science of lung biome in the equine species is still in its baby years. A Canadian group of researchers has very recently been looking at the effect of environmental conditions on the biome of the entire equine airways, from nose to lungs and has compared the biome of healthy horses with that of asthmatic subjects. The study reveals that horses kept at pasture had very different biomes in comparison to horses kept indoors. Besides, the lung biome of the asthmatics differed considerably to that of horses free from asthma when horses were housed together indoors. However when all horses were out at pasture, the differences were far less perceptible. The first steps have been taken to describe what happens when the disease occurs in horses. We now have to make sense of the meaning of these findings, how we can keep the biome in good shape and avoid going down the slippery slope of disease.

Keeping the biome happy

One thing that scientists working in this field agree upon is that it is paramount to nurture a healthy biome. Dysbiosis, in

other words the disruption of the biome, is a cause of disease. For horses and their caretakers, keeping a healthy lung biome means keeping an overall healthy environment: the higher the burden in dust, particles, noxious gases or contaminants, the higher the chance of messing up the biome. Other stressful factors to the biome may be dehydration, transportation, mingling with other horses, who are carrying different and potentially problematic germs, … Anything that affects the balance of the airway’s microbial ecosystem will inevitably open the door to infection, inflammation or immune disorders. Truly potent and deadly enemies of the biome are antibiotics. Giving antibiotics kills bacteria, both good and bad, without distinction. The un-circumspect administration of antibiotics or antiseptic solutions can upset a healthy microbiome for years on and predispose the horse to developing chronic infections or even possibly asthma, as it has been demonstrated in humans. Let’s hope that continued research in the field of lung biome will provide us with new insights both into our understanding of the mechanisms causing respiratory diseases as well as in the role the lung biome plays in respiratory health. This research could even pave the way to new treatment approaches! If we look at treatment options for gut “dysbiosis” in patients that harbour antibiotic-resistant harmful bacteria in their intestines, we now have “faecal transplants”. Radical but highly effective, faecal transplants consist of installing a healthy person’s microbiota into a sick person’s gut. I’ll let you imagine how it can be done. As disgusting as it may seem, it has been a life-saver for patients in highly critical conditions. That’s the power of a healthy biome. Perhaps there will soon be new ways of treating and controlling lung diseases in our horse through modulating their lung biome. ISSUE 59 TRAINERMAGAZINE.COM










BELOW: Keeping morale high is key to retaining good staff.


he important role played by stable staff has always been recognised by the horsemen and women employing them, though perhaps not always shown. It has certainly been overlooked beyond the stableyard, with the apparent view outside of the racing industry that stable work is unskilled and without long-term prospects. This misguided view has been detrimental, discouraging young people outside of the industry to explore job prospects and consider a role with thoroughbreds. Recognising the individual skillset of the various roles within a working yard is important and while it may take time to get used to new job titles, where for centuries Lad or Lass sufficed, the titles are helping to identify particular roles and logical career progression. Above all, we are learning to openly value our team members and reward their skill and dedication, which means a tremendous amount in terms of job satisfaction and morale. A wariness of comparing our workplace to any standard business is understandable, but it is important to recognise it as a business and every trainer wants to operate successfully. Peter Burnet, of the Peplow Group, has delivered learning and development programmes for individuals, teams and organisations since 1992. It’s


interesting to note that many of Peplow’s programmes relate to the horseracing industry, “but can be adapted to any sector or organisation.” In this instance, our industry is setting the target for other industries to aspire to. Teamwork is naturally at its strongest in a working yard and can be seen as our industry’s greatest, and to date overlooked, asset. The team at Peplow explain that, “effective teamwork lies at the heart of every well managed organisation. The need to have a common purpose, clear objectives and a will to work cooperatively with colleagues is essential to maximise performance.” Without support and management, a team ethic can fail. Clashes of personality, different ways of working, or discomfort and uncertainty with new roles can all lead to frustration, but a good team leader will set goals the whole team can commit to, and issues can be resolved as individuals recognise the strengths and weaknesses of their co-workers and work together smoothly.

The Winning Approach to teamwork

It is for these reasons that The Winning Approach has been devised, to assist trainers, set high standards and retain valued staff members. Attracting and retaining skilled riders and grooms is one of the key challenges currently facing trainers across Europe, who are having to

By Appointment to Her Majesty The Queen Manufacturer of Horse Bedding Bedmax Limited Northumberland






compete with many other industries for an increasingly demanding workforce. Trainers therefore need to manage their staff in a way that attracts and retains them. A study by the Racing Foundation highlighted a mismatch between trainers’ understanding of the needs of their staff and the expectations of staff members in the way they are managed. The National Trainers Federation has therefore created an Industry Standard for the best ways to engage and motivate staff. Research has shown that, if implemented, this standard can maximise retention. This standard has been called The Winning Approach. It is hoped that by encouraging trainers to adopt “The Winning Approach”, fewer employees will leave racing and working within the industry will have greater appeal, with a knowledge that racehorse trainers provide the best jobs, the most rewarding jobs and best supported jobs anywhere in the equine sector. Adopting The Winning Approach principles is, of course, voluntary, but many trainers already have similar practises in place and those looking for help to get started will find it easier than they might fear. Overall it will enhance the reputation of employers in racing and, as we are all aware, the public image of the sport is vitally important. The outcome will be a visible demonstration of the core values of the programme, such as integrity, legal and regulatory compliance, the respect and care of employees, long term sustainability of your business and maintaining the trust of the public in the racing industry. Many trainers already recognise and reward, beyond purely financial methods, the work contributed to the success of the yard by staff. This may include yard parties or outings, public acknowledgement of the roles played by staff members in successes, yard prizes and end of year celebrations.




ABOVE: Good trainers need great staff to be successful.







Respiratory disease and biosecurity are major health threats to your horses’ health and performance. Find out more about how BEDMAX can help you prevent them at: or call Brent Adamson our Racing & Stud Specialist on: (0044) (0)7774 178925




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Offering support and guidance in Britain is the National Trainers Federation, which provides a free employment manual and the National Trainers Federation executive team can be contacted on 01488 71719. The Red Book, (Health and Safety Manual for the Racing Industry), is available from the British Horseracing Authority and the Lycetts Tool Kit, a risk mitigation system, is available to all clients of Lycetts’ insurance brokers, via Piers Plunket on 01672 512512.

Lycetts Team Champion

With all of this in mind, the Lycetts Team Champion Award has been created to celebrate the British training yards that have a strong team ethos. The Lycetts Team Champion mission is to deliver praise, and a sense of achievement, for the best managed yards; showcase the positive results of developing a team that works well together; spread the message about safe working practices; improve recruitment and retention rates by promoting the most successful ways in which racehorse trainers manage their staff and encouraging wider adoption of those practices; and demonstrate to the world outside racing that for anyone who wants to work with horses, British racehorse trainers provide the best supported jobs anywhere in the equine sector. NTF chief executive Rupert Arnold says of the Award, “It is important for the NTF, as the body supporting employers, to take a lead role in initiatives to tackle staff shortages. The workplace is our main focus and the Team Champion Award integrates with several projects we are working on relating to management practices and employee engagement for racing grooms and riders. “We are looking for ways to recognise the role trainers and their staff, acting as a team, play in developing the



foundations for a successful racing stable. It has become the norm for trainers to acknowledge the team effort that brings success on the racecourse. Team Champion aims to identify the building blocks of that team success, encourage wider adoption of those ways of working, and celebrate the stables that do it well.” Taking part in the Lycetts Team Champion Award will support your recruitment and retention strategy by ensuring you have the best staff management practices in place, as well as supporting your marketing strategy by showing your business is well managed. There is also the chance of winning £5,000. Fittingly, Lycetts is providing the prize money to be used in a way that benefits and supports the team. The nomination form asks how the yard would envisage using the prize money, so the team knows what winning will mean to them. Examples might include an equiciser, coffee machine or a TV for the staff room, canteen or hostel, or yard-branded riding-out clothing. Participation is easy, simply study the assessment criteria, (which has been taken from The Winning Approach standards) and decide whether the yard already meets the criteria, or if new ways of working need to be put in place to compete for the award. Trainers and staff agree how they will work together on the nomination and completion of the nomination form. The team should be imaginative in the way they collaborate and collect and provide evidence. This could include video, photo and testimonial evidence and involve the wider team, such as farrier, vet and owners, for example.


1. Using effective recruitment and induction systems 2. Ensuring a safe environment 3. Creating a positive working environment 4. Development and Training 5. Reward and Recognition

The nomination form contains a series of questions prompting teams to describe the action they have taken to achieve the listed outcomes. The criteria has been chosen so they are achievable by yards of any size and the judges will ensure small-scale yards are not at a disadvantage. Nomination forms, endorsed by trainer and staff, must be submitted to the National Trainers Federation by 1st December 2017.


The Lycetts Team Champion Award Celebrating Successful Teamwork Nominations are now being accepted from British racing stables for the Lycetts Team Champion Award. This groundbreaking initiative will showcase the country’s most forward-thinking racing yards by focusing on the importance of team ethos and recognising those who put teamwork at the forefront of their daily success. As well as national recognition, two winning yards will each receive a £4,000 prize to further enhance and improve their winning teams! Both Lycetts Team Champion Awards – one for yards with 40 or more horses and a separate prize for smaller yards with fewer than 40 horses – were established as part of a joint National Trainers’ Federation and Lycetts initiative to promote new industry standards for staff management. The Lycetts Team Champion Award recognises the UK’s bestmanaged racing yards by demonstrating the benefits of developing a team that works well together, spreads the message about safe working practices and, crucially, improves staff recruitment and retention.

“Trainers know that success on the racecourse comes from teamwork. The Team Champion

Deadline for entries to the first Lycetts Team Champion Award is 1st December 2017 and winners will be announced by the National Trainers’ Federation on 22nd February 2018.

Award aims to identify the building blocks of that team success, encourage wider adoption of those ways of working and celebrate the stables that do it well.” Rupert Arnold

Entries for the exciting new Lycetts Team Champion Award can be made online at – where you can also discover more information on the development of this unique initiative. Development of the Team Champion Award was supported by The Racing Foundation.


Team Champion Award

Lycetts | Piers Plunket, Associate Director | 01672 518205 | National Trainers Federation | Rupert Arnold | 01488 71719 |

“Successful teams work best when everyone plays their part and the same is true of managing risk on a yard. This award will showcase the best teams in both areas with the added benefit of reducing accidents and therefore claims.” Piers Plunket




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endon injuries continue to be one of the most problematic injuries that affect racehorses. One of major issues facing veterinarians and trainers is that we have little understanding of why tendons become injured in the first place, how such injuries may be prevented, and importantly, what treatments really work to improve tendon healing subsequent to injury. Currently, it can be argued, that there are no treatments for tendon injuries that have good evidence of benefit over rest and exercise rehabilitation on their own. Tendon injuries are common. Analysis of injuries sustained on UK racecourses in the 1996–1998 racing season identified that 46% of injuries were to either tendon or ligaments with the incidence of such injuries being greater in steeplechasers than horses used for hurdling. The importance of these injuries in racing was further highlighted in a cohort study undertaken at six racecourses in 2000 and 2001. This study identified that injuries to tendon or ligaments were the most frequent cause of injury during racing with a frequency of 6.9/1000 starts. Of these injuries reported in this study, 90% occurred within the superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT). In the UK these injuries to jump horses occurred at an incidence rate of 1.9/100 horses/ month in training, with 41% of such injuries occurring during racing, and 59% occurring during training. Interestingly, of the injuries that were sustained during racing, 7% necessitated euthanasia, in comparison to 1% requiring euthanasia for training injuries. Different trainers

Professor Peter Clegg

have differing incidence (between 10 and 40%) of tendon injuries in their horses, and increasing age has repeatedly been shown to increase the risk of injury. One of the biggest risk factors for occurrence of a tendon injury is a horse having had a previous tendon injury, and data has shown that 53% of horses which return to racing following a tendon injury, re-injure their tendon at some stage in the future. Firstly to understand the problems associated with tendons, it is important to understand the function of tendon. All tendons connect muscle to bone, enabling muscle power to be transferred to bones to allow movement. However tendons may have other functions, in addition to purely force transmission. Certain tendons have adapted to become highly elastic “rubberband” like structures. These tendons have adapted to store and release mechanical energy during movement with the aim of decreasing the amount of energy needed to move. It has been shown that the equine superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT) stretches and recoils up to 20% of its length with each stride at the gallop, and the energy-storing property of this tendon increases the energy efficiency of the gallop in the horse by 36%. In simplistic terms, the SDFT in the horse acts like the spring of a pogo stick, stretching and storing energy as a horse lands, and releasing energy to aid a horse’s locomotion as the limb pushes off. There is a lot of clinical and research focus on these “energy-storing” tendons (such as the equine SDFT), as it is these tendons which are most prone to injury, and it appears to be a property of the function of such high strain, elastic tendons which result in these significant injuries will

lead to so much economic loss and welfare issues for the affected horses. Under such extreme mechanical demands, it is not surprising the SDFT is prone to overuse injury, particularly amongst racehorses. SDFT injuries are highly debilitating, requiring considerable rehabilitation periods and are often career-limiting. There is little convincing evidence of efficacy for any current treatment, and even after extensive periods of rest and rehabilitation, re-injury rates are extremely high, with little knowledge of how best to safely reintroduce training. In the horse, tendons are also extremely long, due to the length of a horse’s leg. In the horse’s forelimb, there is no muscle lower in the leg than the level of the knee (carpal) joints, and tendons mainly extend from the level of the knee down to the hoof. To understand why tendons, such as the equine SDFT, become injured and how we may develop methods to allow better treatments, we and other researchers, have been developing an understanding of how elastic “energy-storing” tendons function and how do they fail. We have recent, exciting data which leads us to believe that tendon injury occurs because of ageing or damage within a specific part of the tendon structure called the interfascicular matrix (IFM). The IFM is also known by some people as “the endotenon”. Tendon is like braided rope, with the IFM connecting the rope strands laterally. Our evidence shows that the IFM is both stretchy and lubricating to allow the rope strands to slide around relative to each other, but as a tendon ages or becomes damaged, this mechanism does not work as well. Separately, we have shown that tendon ISSUE 59 TRAINERMAGAZINE.COM



Fig 1 A cut section across a superficial digital flexor tendon from a seven year old thoroughbred in training. Note the honeycombed appearance of the tendon which is present because of the interfascicular matrix (IFM) surrounding the tendon fascicles. Much of the functional properties of the tendon arise from the IFM.




overuse causes damage and inflammation in the IFM. Combining these results, leads us to think that the changes in the IFM with age cause damage to occur more easily to this region and this leads to tendinopathy. The main molecule which makes up tendons are long rope-like proteins called collagens. In particular, in tendons, a specific collagen (Collagen-I) is bundled together into ropes of many thousands of collagen fibres and fibrils to ultimately form tendon structures known as fascicles. Fascicles are like individual strands or threads which make up a rope and are approximately half a millimetre in diameter. If a cut tendon is examined at post-mortem, it has a honeycombed liked appearance which are the individual fascicles, with the IFM surrounding each fascicle (Fig 1). Interestingly, when we use ultrasound to examine a tendon as part of a clinical examination, the fascicle is the smallest part of the tendon which we define ultrasonographically, and the presence of ordered fascicles is a good sign for tendon health (Fig 2) Historically, the collagen which makes up the majority of a tendon has been the major focus of interest when it has come to trying to understand why tendons are so commonly injured, and why they never heal particularly well following injury. However, the central role of collagen to tendon function has been recently questioned. Undoubtedly, this molecule is important to tendons, but whilst the collagen material in a tendon has a major role in providing structural strength to a tendon, it has only a minor role in allowing a tendon to perform as an elastic structure. The collagen molecules which make up most of the tendon are like large metal



Fig 2 A longitudinal ultrasound scan of a tendon. Note the longitudinal striations present in the scan. These occur due to echos from the individual tendon fascicles. The presence of this longitudinal pattern can be a good indicator of tendon health. Fig 3 A longitudinal ultrasound scan of a tendon from a seven year old thoroughbred which sustained an injury to this tendon 12 months previously. Note the loss of longitudinal striations present in the scan. This is because the tendon has failed to regenerate the interfascicular matrix during healing. This tendon is likely to be at a high risk of re-injury once it returns to fast work. Fig 4 A cut section across a superficial digital flexor tendon from a nine year old thoroughbred which sustained an injury to this tendon nine months previously. Note (in comparison to the normal tendon in Fig 1) the loss of the honeycombed pattern of the interfascicular matrix (IFM) in the centre of the tendon. This is because the normal tendon has been replaced by scar tissue which lacks the functional properties of elasticity arising from the IFM.

reinforcing rods which are used when dings. They constructing large build give a lot of the strength h to the material, but don’t fullyy eff ffect f the functional propertiees of a tendon. Another aspectt of the collagen in tendon is th hat it is an extremely long-livved molecule and through life is hardly turned-over, so the body has very little capacity to repair and early damage. Research has shown that the half-life of a collagen molecule in a horse tendon is probably well over two hundred years, meaning that most horses will not repair or replace most of the collagen in their tendons between the time they stop growing, to the point that they die. The unique properties of the equine SDFT, which in part makes the horse such a superb athlete, are due to its elastic structure. These elastic properties of tendon derive almost entirely from the IFM, which contains a lot of specialised molecules which both allow low-friction sliding between the collagen fascicles (proteoglycans) as well as specialized molecules, which allow elastic recoil. In the horse, this part of the tendon


is uniquely adapted to both allow tendon extension and recoil, as well as withstanding multiple cycles of loading which would occur with fast galloping exercise over considerable distances. Interestingly, it has been shown in a number of different studies that older horses are at increased risk of tendon injury. Coupled with this finding is the discovery that the IFM in older horses loses its ability to slide and extend as easily, and also loses its elasticity to some extent. Also this part of the tendon in older horses becomes less able to withstand the repeated loading which comes with fast galloping exercise, and as a consequence, is more likely to become damaged with repeated loading. Overall the IFM in older horses is stiffer, meaning that the collagenous tissue in tendons is likely to

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become loaded at an earlier part of weight bearing at the gallop, leading to a greater likelihood of overall tendon injury. Another recent research finding is that when a tendon is subjected to repeated loading, analogous to the loading a tendon may receive during galloping exercise, is that early damage is seen to occur specifically in the IFM, and as a consequence the cells present in the IFM respond and produce an inflammatory response (like a local bruise) as a consequence of this damage. Thus the IFM tendon is not only important for the elastic function of the tendon, but there is now evidence that the earliest stage of injury probably starts in this part of the tendon. As mentioned earlier, one of the problems with tendon injuries is that the tendon does not heal appropriately post-injury. The tendon heals by forming a scar tissue, which whilst often very mechanically strong, is a much stiffer and much less elastic than normal tissue. Hence an injured tendon is often mechanically very different from a normal tendon, even once healing is complete. There is often a marked discrepancy in the elastic properties of the normal tendon and the

Fig 5 An experimental high field MRI of a superficial digital flexor tendon. Note with this imaging technique it is possible to fully assess the interfascicular matrix organisation in a tendon. Further development work will be necessary to move this type of imaging into clinical practice.

scarred tendon tissue, and it is at the interface between the two different tissues that re-injury occurs during a horse’s future racing career. We have observed that one of the major issues with the scarred tendon repair tissue is that it totally fails to reform any structure which is like an IFM (Fig 3); hence repair tissue in tendon is unable to extend and work elastically, and this is probably one of the main reasons why tendon repair is currently inadequate. Through understanding these mechanisms of tendon function and failure, it opens up the possibilities in the future to make progress in both preventing and treating tendon injuries in a more optimal manner. Using current imaging technology, this understanding identifies the importance of the fascicular and IFM structure, which can be currently imaged using ultrasound, and emphasises the importance of identification of reformation of this structural appearance in injured horses before they are allowed to undergo fast work again after injury (Fig 2 & 4). It also identifies the need to


develop better imaging methodologies which could be used to assist diagnosis and management of tendon injuries. An example of this is high-field MRI, which currently in the research laboratory allows exquisitely detailed imaging of the key tendon structure (Fig 5). There is also the potential for development of novel ultrasound imaging technologies which will allow dynamic measurement of sliding of the fascicles and potentially both identify tendons at altered risk of injury, as well as assisting with the rehabilitation of injured horses whilst they return to work. Such technology is being developed in our laboratories at the moment through generous support from the Horserace Betting Levy Board in the UK. Regenerative therapies need to be developed which specifically target regeneration of the IFM, as we think recreation of the IFM organisation is key to long term healthy tendon function following injury. Finally, we need to understand how the properties of tendons develop as a foal grows to discover whether we can intervene at this stage to allow formation of a healthier, less injury-prone tendon. We have evidence that the IFM undergoes considerable adaptation during the initial development and weanling stage of growth. It is an exciting time for understanding tendon injury, its treatment and its prevention in the horse. We are now much closer to understanding the biological causes of this frustrating condition, and this gives us the potential to really make major advances in the next 5-10 years, which will be of substantial benefit to the horse. ISSUE 59 TRAINERMAGAZINE.COM






onsider throwing a thirteen-year-old school child into a university environment straight from prep school. Sights, sounds and influences that the young mind would struggle to compute; physical rigours on the sports field that would either disappoint the mind or cause physical damage. I cannot think of any parent that would choose this for their young adolescent. Yet we often do this to the young horse, plucking them straight from the sleepy pastures of their nursery into an environment that is measured upon its



production of top-level runners. Perhaps we send them via the sales‌an entrance examination of sorts. When put like this it is clear that, as custodians of young bloodstock, we might consider a period of preparation during which the horse would be introduced to saddle and rider, taught the basic lessons that would allow it to fit into the programme of the trainer that its owner chooses, as well as a careful conditioning of the physical stresses that will be tested further upon its graduation to the greater strains that will be required to reach race fitness.

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For the sake of this article pre-training will be considered to be the safe development of a young horse towards its first joining a trainer or returning from a break not enforced by injury, as opposed to rehabilitation. The American racing industry has the perfect phrase for this: Legging Up. While there has been a constant growth in the number of commercial pre-training yards in Europe over the last 25 years to satisfy a growing demand for this service, this is something that has been a long-standing practice further afield, particularly in countries where there is stabling pressure at the racetrack or in metropolitan stables, not to mention numerous larger owners that have chosen to keep a greater part of the horse’s young career in their control by employing a farm trainer or establishing their own pre-training division. In the United States (and to a degree Australia), there is considerable pressure on stabling at or near to the racetrack and the priority will of course be given to runners that are earning. Stall allotments at a meeting in North America are on the management’s expectation that stall will house a horse that is likely to run during that meeting which often leave trainers very limited space for either young horses or those coming back from an injury or break. This historically has created a demand for either farms to undertake ridden work of young stock or specialised pre-training operations at training centres. A glance at Google Earth shows a number of training tracks at farms dotted around central Kentucky and anyone that has flown into Bluegrass Airfield will likely have noticed the famous Calumet training track immediately adjacent to Keeneland. These were borne out of a real need to have youngsters developed off the main track due to lack of space. Horses that graduate to the racetrack in North America are not only facing their toughest physical challenges but also a high-octane environment where other horses will be breezing past them from the very first day, making their preparation of key importance.

Olly Stevens

Training centres such as Camden, where Shadwell have a barn, and Ocala, home of numerous highly regarded and well supported pre-training operations, have become centres of excellence where young horses can escape the harsh winters of Kentucky and New York and receive both education and physical conditioning with specialist businesses boasting superb facilities. The breeding hub of Kentucky is home to numerous operators that perform the task of legging horses up at training centres near to Lexington. Geoff Mulcahy (coincidentally also breeder of Coventry Stakes hero Rajasinghe) has run his hugely successful stable at the Thoroughbred Training Centre taking advantage of a quieter environment, diverse facilities and no pressure from racetracks to run horses that are still developing. Yearlings start at his Bourbon County farm where a team of full time staff undertake the early work, backing the horses and riding them away until they are ready to be introduced to the training centre where a shared track exposes the young horses to some of what they might expect at a main track later in their career. The success of this detail-oriented and gradual approach has led to the stable attracting a very enviable client list, featuring as a key part of the programme of a who’s who of North American racing. Owners who operate on a large scale have also chosen to build up a pre-training division to match their breeding and sales activities. Taking control of this allows the owner and team of advisors to make more informed management decisions regarding the horse, choice of trainer or whether to even continue with a horse’s career, in many cases saving money. Shadwell operate a sector of their Thetford stud for this as well as a well established pre-training operation in Dubai and barn in Camden, NC. Godolphin have multiple pretraining sites as part of their global operation which have built upon their historic Kildangan base to help give the young stock the best possible start.

Kurtsystems/WinStar Farms/Frances Karon/Patrick Owens




ABOVE: The state of the art “Train WinStar Centre”.


Not far from Mulcahy’s Paris Pike base is an example which illustrates the importance pre-training can hold in the plans of significant owner-breeders. Keeneland has a line of nine barns, each holding roughly 40 horses. These barns are leased on a long term basis. In recent times, there have been barns associated with Juddmonte, Claiborne, WinStar, Lane’s End, Shawnee Farm and Darley that have made the most of proximity to the nurseries, world-class vets and also enjoyed the synthetic training surface that runs alongside the (now reverted to dirt) main track. Born from a commitment to local breeders, Keeneland does not just do this in the sales ring and at the race track. Each barn has a sand-based turn out/lunge pen, there is access to fields at the back of the barns which helps give horses a change and the track team do a brilliant job of defying Kentucky’s climate to keep the track open through the harsh winter. Likewise WinStar Farm in Versailles, KY has developed its own, now state-of-the-art training centre, much of which is focused upon pre-training. WinStar Farm. Up until 2010, the yearlings were broken on site at the old training barn. These were kept turned out in groups full time and ridden daily on the veterinary advice that this would encourage the best skeletal health. Once the weather turned in November the horses would be moved up to Highpointe Training Centre in Northern Kentucky (originally designed and developed by D Wayne Lucas). At Highpointe the horses were able to train through


the winter, under the constant evaluation of the senior management team before continuing to the farm’s private barn on Keeneland’s Rice Road in the spring for final evaluation and then shipping to their trainers. This worked brilliantly for Super Saver and Drosselmeyer, who were both in this programme at the same time. Early in 2010, WinStar opened its new and expanded training centre which bought the entire operation back under one roof. A synthetic-surfaced oval and an uphill gallop were added as well as horse walkers, indoor school, swimming pool and a huge barn offering numerous rehabilitation therapies. While a large part of the facility is geared up for rehabilitation the balance is a committed investment in moving a programme already producing results under one roof. A neighbouring farm was subsequently purchased and developed to accommodate the breaking aspect of the fast-growing “Train WinStar” operation, which takes outside-owned horses as well as their own homebreds and sales purchases, and boasts a who’s who of alumni. In many cases the trainer will prefer to have yearlings in a pre-training yard as there is quite a gap from the earliest yearling sales to the end of the season. This is not only a matter of prioritising herd health during the key final weeks of the season, but also of space as the horses in training sales often fall after the yearling sales, meaning that stable space is under pressure. In this respect pretraining yards can be a valued tool for trainers to ensure

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ABOVE: One of the covered tracks at Japan’s Northern Farms.

that they can continue to focus solely on the business of winning races regardless of the pressures applied by the business cycle. Australia’s largest two racing communities are both metropolitan-based, in Sydney and Melbourne. Pretraining is a necessity as stabling is limited in the city and with only seven days required for the horse to be at the trainer’s premises before it runs, many horses stay in pretraining longer than in other parts of the world. Young horses often leave the pre-training facility for a number of days to get track experience or to run in barrier trials, then return to do the rest of their training at the pre-trainers. Transport lorries are a common sight at these yards making daily, even twice daily, deliveries and collections between provincial areas and the city tracks such as Randwick. Hundreds of young thoroughbreds head straight from the studs and sales to pre-training where many establishments also offer breaking facilities. Major owners and trainers are slightly wary of these less exclusive types of pre-training centres as infections are rife with little or no regulations placed on such establishments by racing’s governing bodies. Often based in rural areas these centres are generally staffed by inexperienced backpackers and travellers on their “gap year”. A growing number of owners and trainers are choosing to set up their own centres and pre-train in house, Darren Weir is one such trainer. Likewise there is the potential to use a pre-trainer during times of growth, the trainer running the core stable at

capacity with pre-trainers taking on any horse other than those that are running or building up to a run. This leaves all of the liability with the pre-trainer, while the trainer is allowed to focus on core business and efficiencies. In fact, rules in some countries make pre-trainers almost a necessity. Japan has a very rigid restriction on the number of horses that even a leading trainer can have in their care, at the track, at any given time, which has led to pre-training operations that take horses to within a matter of weeks of a race. The facilities of the leading pretraining farms in Japan have been constantly developed with covered tracks and, at Northern Farm, even chambers simulating high altitude that are really pushing boundaries of sports science and taking horses really very close to a race, and it is perhaps here that we have seen the boundaries of pre-training pushed the furthest. So what are the financial benefits of using pre-trainers? It is widely acknowledged that training fees alone do not offer a huge margin, prize money and commission on sales being the cream for trainers, so to sub-contract latematuring horses to a specialist pre-trainer makes perfect sense. In a recent promotional video for Irish Champions weekend, Ger Lyons described exactly this, explaining that he has more horses than stables, with those furthest away from appearing at a racetrack spending time developing locally in a yard operated by the family of Colin Keane, the Glenburnie Stable Jockey or another farm nearby in Kilcock. “If you’re in here you’re ready for hard work, we don’t need next-year horses here.” Patrick Owens has built up, over the course of a few years, a healthy business. “Of course it’s easy to be busy in the winter months but we measure the business in the summer months which has the potential to be a bit of a quiet time.” Having completed an international apprenticeship that took Patrick from Luca Cumani’s Newmarket Yard to Eddie Kenneally’s “academy” of sharp young trainers via Point-to-Pointing in the south east and a stint at Woodbine, Patrick has picked up techniques from the world over but he bases his entire approach to the horses on a hands-on and detail-oriented approach which has led him to become close with his clients too. Matt Coleman, of the Cool Silk partnership, introduced Patrick to a now-significant client. “Working with trainers like Robert Cowell is a pleasure, we speak weekly about each horse, he really understands that growth spurts just come and go with these youngsters and if I need more time with a horse he has always allowed it.” A growing and seemingly loyal client list would tempt many to expand immediately, but Patrick is taking a long term




view “Everything here is about detail, spotting when horses are sleeping just a bit more than usual, letting them grow, letting them relax. I might expand a bit, but I do not want it to ever be at the cost of ensuring that every horse has the right workload to balance their physical and mental development.” A novel approach that has more in common with more conventional approaches than initially meets the eye is Mehmet Kurt’s Kingwood Stud. While the cutting edge and beautifully-engineered Kurtsystem is dazzling, it could easily divide opinion and is beyond the reach of many commercial pre-trainers. The idea was born from Mr Kurt’s desire to “reduce the injuries and breakdowns suffered by racehorses in the early stages of their careers,” something that every horseman is seeking to achieve in gradually and considerately developing the young horse. In this case it is carried out by taking young horses, very young horses of weaning age, and slowly introducing them to the Kurtsystem. This takes some time especially as farm manager and Classic-winning Italian trainer Daniele Camufo explains: “The horses are not forced into this so it takes us some time for them to learn. They learn to travel along together as a herd. Initially perhaps not every day, and only just to be introduced to it, but this is increased as they become accustomed to it.” Critics of this system might not have been fortunate enough to have seen it first hand, and also not had the opportunity to ask questions. Yearlings are all broken in and ridden just as they would normally be, but by this stage they have already been cantering (without the



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weight or interference of a rider) since April, learning to balance themselves “Look! They don’t lean on this like a treadmill, they have to carry themselves. All of the gates are open now on these yearlings. They are free” says Camufo, as a group of smartly-bred yearlings (including a very eye-catching Pivotal colt) canter before us while we sit in air-conditioned comfort tracking them. The horses carry rollers and weight cloths of varying sizes on the Kurtsystem 2000 but are also ridden and turned out to supplement this mechanised exercise. The training programme is a part of a bigger picture that is designed to give each horse the best possible chance of a long and successful racing career. The early start to the training programme gives ample opportunity to assess each horse’s potential as well as controlled exercise that can collect data on key physical metrics such as aerobic capacity and efficiency, and stride length and heart rate data will soon be added. Conditioning, safety and specialising are all key elements of pre-training and Mr Kurt has had success with his earlier versions of this system in his native Turkey. This led to the huge undertaking in Lambourn, in which he has such confidence that has supported his structure with some blue-blooded young horses that are

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developed on the Kurtsystem before heading to Jamie Osborne down the hill to race in the Kingwood Silks. Dennis O’Brien manages Shadwell’s Thetford-based pretraining and rehabilitation establishment and the global powerhouse keeps things simple. “We take in all of the sales yearlings and work with them, in house, until they are mature and sound enough to take training.” At the early stages of each horse’s career they do not alter significant details of the management of each horse and, all going well, they soon graduate to their intended trainers. “Most of our trainers have large numbers of horses so we are aiming to send horses to them that can fit in nicely with that.”



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Arriving at the Snareshill Estate is a contrast to the busy cut and thrust of nearby Newmarket. Avenues of mature deciduous trees, with hedged paddocks and a calm but deliberate working atmosphere in the yard, all combine to leave, to the human observer at least, with the impression that this would be an idyllic place for a horse to grow up. The relatively flat topography lends itself well for building the sort of gallops that will not over-face the young athlete and within the yard is an enviable roster of facilities. In principle, a conventional pre-training operation can have slightly lower operational costs than a racing yard as there aren’t any runners to think of, a lower administrative burden and a less immediate need for extensive facilities which can in turn offer each horse’s owner a potential saving. This is not to say that pretrainers have lesser facilities, as is proven by Ed and Tanya Peate’s Penny Farm outside Newmarket. Built in 2006 to meet the demands of a growing business, and well supported by leading trainers, owners and breeders, Ed and Tanya were able to buy and develop Penny Farm on arable land just outside Newmarket. Penny Farm boasts a gallop that, while kind to young horses, would more than suffice to train runners, and allows them to work horses upsides as they develop and get closer to progressing into the yards of their trainers. There are giveaways, however, that Penny Farm has been designed with a very specific purpose; most obviously the number of lunge rings so crucial to breaking in such a number of yearlings each autumn and winter. In the here and now, pre-training already offers apparent financial and performance incentives for the trainer and owner alike, but with new methods and technologies being employed by pre-trainers, it’s not hard to see this increasingly important sector of the industry developing further and becoming adopted by the wider training fraternity.

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ack pain is a well known cause of lameness, gait alterations and poor performance in sport horses. Up to 25% of dressage horse owners report back problems in their animals, but not only sport horses are affected. Although racehorses compete at a younger age than other equine athletes, they might suffer from back pain more often than we think, autopsy studies have identified pathological changes in the back of the majority of examined young thoroughbreds. Until recently, it has been very difficult to investigate back pain and it is easy to overlook this as a cause of disappointing performance. A novel surgical technique which has recently been reported in Equine Veterinary Journal, may change all this.

The trouble with back pain

In people, “lower back pain” is the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed workdays, and it could be an underestimated problem in horses. Although several studies have shown a high incidence of pathology in the equine backbone, more correctly called the thoracolumbar and lumbosacral spine, and most of these findings were made during autopsies and not in clinical cases or live horses. Diagnosing the reason for back pain in a living horse is difficult, this is due to the complex anatomy of the horse’s back and the large size of an adult horse. The currently available diagnostic tools often fail to accurately identify the source of pain in clinical cases, the heavy back musculature limits the value of x-rays, while the wide range of scintigraphy (bone scan) findings in healthy horses makes it difficult to distinguish normal variations from clinically relevant problems. Ultrasonography for detecting bony anomalies in the equine back is also of limited value. In people, the diagnostic tools of choice are magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CAT Scan, CT). But currently, because of the large size of adult horses, these tools cannot be used to assess the equine back. Consequently, veterinarians are often unable to pinpoint the underlying lesion in horses with clinical signs of back pain and thus cannot develop a targeted treatment plan.

Trainers will be familiar with the principles of endoscopy as it is a procedure commonly used to assess the upper airway and to perform minimally invasive procedures in joints (arthroscopy) or the abdomen (laparoscopy), also known as keyhole surgery. In people, endoscopy is also applied to identify problems within the spinal canal that can cause chronic back pain.

Anatomy of the back

The spine is a “column of vertebrae”, hence the scientific name “vertebral column”, that provides the bony support for the neck and back. In horses, the vertebral column is typically formed by 54 vertebrae that are connected to each other by joints, muscles and ligaments. Although slight variations of these numbers are common, typically, in the neck there are 7 cervical, in the back there are 18 thoracic, 6 lumbar, and 5 sacral vertebrae; and, in the tail, there are 18 (15-21) caudal vertebra. The lumbar vertebrae are connected to the “sacrum”, a bone formed by the fused sacral vertebrae. Both the lumbar spine and the sacrum should be included when examining a horse with lower back pain. Within the spine, a central canal spans from the head to the tail. This spinal canal contains the spinal cord and the roots of the large nerves that originate from the cord (spinal nerves). The spinal cord and the nerve roots are the pathway for transmission of information, in both directions, between the brain and the rest of the body. To protect this delicate nervous tissue, the spinal cord and nerves are enclosed in a protective layer, the dura mater. Located between the dura mater and the bone of the vertebrae is the epidural space, which is filled with loose connective tissue and fat. Through small gaps between certain vertebrae (e.g. between the first and second cervical vertebra or the sacrum and the first caudal vertebra), the epidural space can be accessed and explored with a thin, flexible endoscope. This procedure is called “epiduroscopy” and allows a direct viewing of the structures in the spinal canal.

Figure 1: Horse skeleton seen from above, outlining the different regions of the spinal column.










Figure 2: Tip of a flexible videoendoscope that is suitable for lumbosacral epiduroscopy. The instrument is 60 cm long and has an outer diameter of 3.8 mm (Olympus BF-C 160).


Epiduroscopy is used in people to, among other things, diagnose injury and compression of the spinal cord and the spinal nerves. In horses, the cervical spinal canal, located in the neck, and the lumbosacral spinal canal, situated in Figure 3: This horse has been draped for lumbosacral epiduroscopy. The site where the endoscope will be inserted is left uncovered and has been prepared for aseptic surgery. Figure 4: With his right hand, the surgeon slowly inserts the endoscope through a white plastic sheath into the epidural space. With his left hand, he controls the moveable tip of the endoscope. In the background, the monitor depicting the endoscopy image can be seen (out of focus).



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the lower back, can be examined with epiduroscopy. While anaesthesia is required to examine the neck, lumbosacral epiduroscopy is done in standing, sedated horses. A specialised endoscope set-up is required and since sterility is critical, epiduroscopy should only be performed in referral hospitals. The instrument has to be long enough to allow examination of the complete lumbosacral spinal canal and thin enough to fit into this narrow space. Ideally, the endoscope is at least 60 cm long but no thicker than 4 mm The epidural space is entered through a small gap between two vertebrae, just above the base of the tail (Figure 3). The endoscope is then slowly inserted while the surgeon injects small amounts of a sterile saline solution through its working channel (Figure 4). This is necessary to push the epidural fat and connective tissue gently out of the way and allow viewing of the structures of interest, as shown in (Figures 5 and 6): the spinal cord and spinal nerves (enveloped by the dura mater), blood vessels and the inside of the surrounding vertebrae. In an adult racehorse of average size, the complete sacral, lumbar and a small part of the thoracic spinal canal can be reached with a 60 cm endoscope.



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Figure 5: Prior to injection of sterile saline through the working channel of the endoscope, the ability to see the different anatomical structures in the epidural space is very limited. At the bottom of the image, the dura mater that covers the spinal cord can be seen, while the epidural fat (on top of the dura mater) prohibits viewing of other structures. Figure 6: Following careful injection of sterile saline solution, the examination becomes more rewarding. A spinal nerve root (*) can be seen emerging from the spinal cord (covered by dura mater) and cross the epidural space. Epidural fat can be seen above (x).


Will epiduroscopy lead to better treatments?

BACK PAIN IS A COMMON AND WELL-RECOGNISED PROBLEM IN SPORT HORSES AND MAY BE AN UNDERESTIMATED REASON FOR POOR PERFORMANCE IN YOUNG RACEHORSES. How can epiduroscopy help veterinarians to find the source of pain in a horse with back problems?

While the spinal cord sends and receives signals directly from the brain, the spinal nerves are the communication pathway between the spinal cord and the body. Spinal nerves are, among other things, responsible for the movements of the muscles in the back and legs and for sending information about pain in the back and legs back to the brain. Injury to a spinal nerve can result in dysfunction of muscles or in pain. Fortunately, the spinal nerve roots are well protected from injury, first by the surrounding bony vertebrae and, after leaving the spinal canal, by a thick muscle layer. However, the nerve can be injured at the point where it exits the spinal canal. The spinal nerves exit the canal through the openings between two adjacent vertebrae. The opening is called the intervertebral foramina. Each opening is in close proximity to the facet joints that connect the vertebrae. Inflammation of these joints (facet joint arthritis) causes back pain and results in irregular growth of bone around the arthritic joint. While severe bony changes can be picked up on radiographs, subtle changes can easily be missed. Unfortunately, even relatively small bony growths can impinge on the passing nerve and cause irritation and inflammation. Nerve root impingement is a recognized cause of lower back and leg pain in people and now that we have epiduroscopy available for horses, it will be possible to identify the prevalence and importance of this condition in equine athletes. This will be especially interesting for young racehorses, where facet joint arthritis can be found in the thoracolumbar spine of up to 97% of cases that undergo autopsy but currently there is no information about the effects of this arthritis on passing spinal nerves.



Epiduroscopy can not only identify an inflamed nerve root, it can also be used to treat the inflammation through targeted injections of steroids via the working channel of the endoscope. There is a lot more work to do before this approach becomes commonplace for back pain. However, at North Carolina State University, the approach has used epiduroscopy to diagnose and successfully treat nerve root inflammation in the neck of an adult horse with chronic forelimb lameness. With help of the recently described lumbosacral epiduroscopy, it is now also possible to introduce this approach for therapy for inflammation in the spinal nerves located in the lower back. At North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine, we are currently developing a protocol to identify horses with back pain and unknown causes of hindlimb lameness that are suitable candidates for lumbosacral epiduroscopy. The findings of these examinations should shed more light on unknown or underestimated causes of back and leg pain in horses. Back pain is a common and well-recognised problem in sport horses and may be an underestimated reason for poor performance in young racehorses. Autopsy findings suggest that especially young thoroughbreds frequently suffer from lesions in the muscles and joints of the lower back, but diagnosing these abnormalities is difficult in living horses. Some cases can be diagnosed with the currently available diagnostic tools, including a thorough clinical examination, radiographs, ultrasound and bone scan. In cases where these methods have been exhausted and failed to provide a diagnosis, epiduroscopy might provide the missing piece of information.


Figure 7: Pipe cleaners have been inserted into the intervertebral foramina, the opening between adjacent vertebrae through which spinal nerves exit the spinal canal. Note the close proximity of the facet joints (arrowheads).

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urvey was he su circullated by the Europ pean Traiiners'' Federration repreesentatives in memb ber countries. Responses were received d from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Francce, Germany, Austria, Norway and Bellgium. Results varied per country but indicated to be representative of th hose countries, wiit w ith an even representtattion by Flatt (41%), Jumps (15%) and dual-purpose (44%) trainers and feedback from small-scale (1-110 horses in training) to large scale (50+) yards. Trainers were asked to complete 28 questions relating to their current daily training rate charged to owners, the factors they feel contribute most to their daily rate, whether they make a profit, loss or break even, what factors would affect a potential increase in their rate, and what rate they feel they would ideally like to charge amongst other location-related questions. The results indicated that average training daily rates are similar across the



participating cou untries. The UK had the highest average at £45 (Euro equivalent at €51)) w wiith i h Irelland d second d at €45. France was concluded at €42 and neighbouring Germany at a lo ower average of €35. The lowest representtation in Continental Europe was Ausstria at €26. Overall, the number of horses in training varieed w wiith i the highest representation (37%) training between 1-10 horses and 8.7% of respondents traiiniing 50< horses. Thereffore, resullts represent the majority of trainers in Europe training between 1-50 horses. Trainers were asked to rate various factors out of 10 that contribute most to the rate they charge. In the UK, Germany and Belgium, staff, feed and insurance were rated most highly, whilst in France and Austria, staff, rent/mortgage and business rates were considered the most influential factors. Norway considered staff, feed and rent/mortgage most highly. However, Ireland indicated a significant difference with yard maintenance, utilities, insurance most affecting their rate which

may be in ndicative of the high proportion of owned d versus rented yards: 60% own, 30% % rentt and d th he cost off maiintaiiniing their yard ds independently. Overall, 46% of all respon ndents own their yard and 54% rent theirr yard, therefore rent/mortgage factors eq qually rated highly. The su urvey has concluded that it is primarilyy staff ff costs that directly aff ffect f trainers’ decisions to charge their rate as well ass the potential increase of their ratte. Across Euro counttriies, the range of pay was €10-15/hour aparrt from Germany, where the range was €8-13/ hour and an average of €9/hour. The UK, meanwhile highlighted an average wage of £8.46/hour with a range of £7.50-12. In most countries, there was uniform representation across all countries with one member of staff looking after three horses on average whilst in Germany, one staff member looked after four horses on average. In the UK, the yard staff to work rider ratio was 1:3 with an average of three part-time work riders and 48% of trainers employing a part-time member

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Average daily rate in Euros (€)

(*1 EUR = 9.28 NOK/1 GBP = 1.14 EUR)










€30 €25






France Germany Austria


NO 67%


52% YES 33% 7%



5% 5%

● ● ● ● ●



7% 30%





24% 17%

7% ● ● ● ● ●







This is my only Income

Other busines income

Partner income

Second job



Other: e.g. Investment, breeding, horse trading, stud farm, veterinarian ISSUE 59 TRAINERMAGAZINE.COM



of office staff in addition to their one full time office staff member. In terms of trainers’ opinion whether they feel their rate is sufficient, in the UK 65% did not feel their rate was sufficient, but 78% felt it covered their major costs. Overall, they would want to charge between £5-10 more/day. In Germany, opinion was split with 50% satisfied with their rate and 50% unsatisfied, still looking to charge between €5-10 more/ day, the same result as France except for 100% of trainers felt their rate was insufficient to support their business. In Ireland, trainers were looking to charge between €10-20 more/day with all trainers putting up their rates between 1-3 years ago by €5. 60% of Irish trainers, however, felt that their daily rate covered major costs. Overall, most trainers noted they excluded variable costs from their daily rate such as the vet, farrier, dentist, transport/raceday expenses, gallops, supplements, production of hay/haylage. It was recognised in France that 25% of trainers produce their own hay/straw compared to 45% in the UK, which was deemed a cost-effective decision by UK trainers. Some German trainers stated that those based at racetracks did not receive box rent and this was paid directly to the racetrack by owners. When asked what stops them putting up their rates, the most common answer was losing owners in almost 2/3 of answers in all countries participating. Other



contributing factors were competition, prize money, lack of profit, location and difficulty receiving current rate, whilst other trainers put up their rate regardless. When asked how often they increase their daily rate and by how much - in the UK, 57% increase their rate by £2 (€2.28 equivalent) annually, with 26% at £4 (€4.55 equivalent) every two to three years on average, it was also interesting to note that 13% had not increased their rate in more than five years. This corresponded with Irish trainers, who on average increased their rate every two-three years by €5, whilst participating Austrian, Belgian and Norwegian trainers had not increased their rates within the last five years. The biggest factors discussed which affect a potential increase in Belgium were daily costs, and more success, less horses and staff in Ireland. Austria highlighted the issue of no races therefore a potential lack of owners and staff whilst feed, more prize money and more owners affected an increase for German trainers. French trainers emphasised the assurance for the work riders and other people working for them if the rate increases, improvement of French prize money and a change in VAT. 45% of UK trainers stressed staff costs, whilst 20% highlighted business rates and staff, with feed and bedding cost increases also considered detrimental factors. Responses to whether trainers make a profit on their daily rate was split

| T R A I N I N G R AT E S |

between countries and d also trainers w wiithin i countries. In most cases, it depends on the yard success over a year and therefore yard maintenance can be improved and potentially new facilities installed. The rates revaluation was a topic highlighted wit ithin the study to which trainers in the UK, Ireland and Austria responded negatively. Some UK trainers have been dramatically aff ffected, ffe with 50% being aff wit wi ffected ‘very badly’ wi ffe with wit an additional 30% making a loss. They discussed pressure to get stables fi filled, fil an example of an increase from £350 per year to £11,000 per year, as well as a 50% increase. This made their businesses considerably worse off ff and meant that the

tiny proffit i ach hieved was redundant and in cases of alwayys breaking even, they were now making a loss. In Ireland, trainers who were always on top of payments were now behind as a result of their business rates revaluation and the Austrian response was that it had aff ffected yards ffe badly on a national scale. The majority of participating UK trainers break even, a range of profi fit fit between £1-8/day was provi vided by some vid trainers, depending on overall turnover in a year. In Ireland, 70% break even and 30% make a loss, whilst in Germany, the profi fit range was €0-5 per day. France fit ranged from €0-3 profi fit per day, which fit refl flects the 75% of trainers that said their fle

rate does not cover their major costs. Traineers also stated whether or not they supplemented their income wit ith a second d job/other business income (43%) and/or partner income (24%), which was deemed commercially necessary if breaking even or making a loss. Overall, the survey has highlighted the issues aff ffecting countries individ ffe idually as well as the current daily rates that trainers are charging across Europe. The pressures aff ffecting daily rates are, in most cases, ffe shared by all trainers wi with intent to run wit a commercial business whilst covering the costs, potential to improve facilities, class of horses and attracting owners simultaneously.

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Vets from all over Ireland congregated at Gowran Park racecourse in July for a continuing professional development event on the Performance Horse. The event, organised by European Trainer Magazine and Merial Animal Health, was the second in a series of veterinary CPD events for 2017 and featured a panel of expert speakers. The event was co-sponsored by Haygain and Connolly’s RED MILLS. Becky James BSc, MSc attended the seminar and reports on the key messages.

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he first speaker Dr Van Erck-Westergren was due to fly in from Brussels on the morning of the event, so when her flight was cancelled at the last minute there was a moment of concern for the organisers but they arranged to bring her into the room via a video link so all was not lost! Using her experience in practice at the Equine Sports Medicine Practice in Belgium, Dr Van Erck explained the importance of vets helping clients to manage the environment of the horses to prevent and manage Inflammatory Airway Disease (IAD). She described managing the horse’s environment to reduce exposure to noxious inhalable particles and improve hygiene and ventilation in the stable as the cornerstone to the success of treating IAD. Important considerations for the environment include building design, bedding, stable activities and most critically, the forage, as this is in the horse’s breathing zone. Dr Van Erck explained that hay remains an important source of forage for horses but it is also a major source of dust and contaminants. Soaking hay is a cheap way of reducing airborne dust but it promotes bacterial proliferation and leaches out the nutritional value so well-made haylage or preferably steamed hay should only be fed to horses with IAD. The hygienic and nutritional quality of haylage produced by local farmers can be irregular. Some horses’ digestive systems do not tolerate it well and horses can get gases or diarrhoea. Commercially-available haylage usually undergoes quality control but is expensive and although lower in airborne dust, is never “dust-free”.



Hay steamers are a promising alternative, reducing the airborne respirable dust by 98% and the wet heat of the steam killing the bacteria and moulds in the hay without altering the nutritional quality. In comparison to all other hay sources, steamed hay has been shown as the optimal solution to significantly reduce IAD in affected horses. [1]. It must be noted that some homemade hay steamers do not allow homogenous circulation of the steam and improper temperatures at the core of the hay results in microbial incubation rather than elimination. [1] Dauvillier J. & Van Erck-Westergren E. Prevalence of fungi in respiratory samples of horses with Inflammatory Airway Disease. In Proceedings of the 2016 ACVIM Forum, Denver, USA.

| M E R I A L R A C E D AY |



aureen Dowling was next up to speak and presented the results of a study which tested the effects of a novel supplement on markers of antioxidant status and muscle cell physiology on thoroughbred horses during and following a moderate training programme. It is known that the increased utilisation of oxygen during exercise can have detrimental effects on equine muscle cells. The production of such reactive oxygen species can outweigh the ability of the horses to detoxify these molecules which disrupts the antioxidant-oxidant equilibrium causing oxidative stress. This can lead to muscle cell necrosis resulting in muscle tissue damage, which in turn, can affect performance. The research found that horses supplemented for a period of 12 weeks have significantly less oxidation levels in their blood 24 hours after strenuous exercise and immediately following a maximal intensity trial, than horses not supplemented.



laire Hawkes set the scene explaining that a resting horse has a respiratory rate of 12 breaths per minute and breathes a total of 60 litres of air per minute. Compare this to a racehorse under race conditions - the respiratory rate increases to 120 breaths per minute and exchanges up to 1800 litres per minute. She went on to describe the structure and function of the respiratory tract describing the larynx and soft palate as weak points in the upper respiratory tract. These weak points can become sites of airway obstruction when under the extreme fluctuations of air pressure experienced during intense exercise. Upper airway obstructions result in reduced airflow leading to reduced oxygen intake which, in turn reduces ventilation and impaired oxygen perfusion of the muscles, ultimately resulting in reduced performance. Overground endoscopy has allowed us to assess horses during experience making accurate diagnoses readily accessible. These systems can be used in conjunction with GPS and ECG monitoring to give a more thorough investigation. There are three common airway obstructions seen: vocal fold prolapse, arytenoid collapse (roarer) and axial deviation of the aryepiglottic folds. ISSUE 59 TRAINERMAGAZINE.COM


| M E R I A L R A C E D AY |




rofessor Cullinane has been Head of Virology at the Irish Equine Centre since 1987 and Head of World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) reference laboratory for equine influenza since 2009. “The most common viruses encountered in racehorses in Ireland are equine influenza and equine herpesvirus 1 and 4.” Professor Cullinane stated. She went on to explain that in a naïve population, equine influenza spreads rapidly. For example, in an unvaccinated population stabled at a racecourse in Australia it was reported that over 700 horses showed



r Kevin Corley is a consultant in equine internal medicine and critical care at Veterinary Advances Ltd and was the penultimate speaker of the day. He started by describing the horse’s stomach, defining the two very different regions: the squamous area at the top of the stomach which is pink in colour and has the same lining as the oesophagus, and the glandular area at the bottom which is dark pink to red in colour and produces acid. The acid has two major roles, it is the first step of digestion and also acts as a barrier to reduce the number of bacteria entering the rest of the intestine. Squamous ulcers occur from acid injury to the non-protected squamous epithelium when the horse exercises faster than a walk and acid is thrown up to the top part of the stomach. There is a very high prevalence of squamous ulcers in horses in training. 80-100% of Thoroughbreds in full training, 66-93% in Endurance horses in a competitive season. In comparison to leisure horses, kept and worked in their home environment and rarely competed, the prevalence is around 11%. The pathogenesis of glandular ulcers are not fully understood but it is believed that



clinical signs within five days. However, in a partially immune population clinical signs may be subtle or absent, and viruses spread at a considerably slower rate. Real-time PCR has revolutionised the diagnosis and management of these viruses. They can be identified in nasal swabs or other samples on the day of submission. In addition, it is relatively simple to screen all horses in a yard repeatedly, allowing the veterinarian and trainer to monitor both the spread of virus and the extent of the virus shedding by infected horses. Equine herpesviruses may take several weeks to spread through a yard, causing significant frustration to the trainer. Vaccination against equine influenza is effective but vaccines should contain epidemiologically-relevant viruses. Since 2010, all outbreaks of equine influenza in Ireland have been caused by Clade 2 viruses of the Florida sub-lineage. Proteq Flu is the only vaccine available in Ireland that contains Clade 2 virus and is in compliance with OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) recommendations for equine influenza vaccine strain composition. Vaccination against equine herpesvirus appears to be less effective than equine influenza vaccination but may reduce virus shedding and therefore limit the recovery period.

ulcers occur as a result of a breakdown of the protective barrier. In humans, steroids and bacterial infection (Helicobacter pylori) are the principal cause of glandular ulcers. Again, there is a high prevalence in horses in training with 47-65% of thoroughbreds and 33% in competing Endurance horses. Clinical signs of ulcers are varied and not consistently present but can include: ● ● ● ● ● ●

Difficulty in maintaining body condition Poor appetite Colic after feeding Poor coat condition Wind sucking and crib biting Behavioural changes – aggressive or nervous ● Poor performance

Dr Corley made the interesting point that the severity of clinical signs doesn’t correlate well with the severity of lesions which appear on a gastroscopy. Nutritional factors were the highest risk for ulcers, if horses are left with no forage for more than six hours this significantly increases the risk of ulcers and if more than 2g/kg body weight of starch is fed per day. This is because food, especially forage, is a buffer to the stomach acid, and therefore prolonged periods without food promotes the formation of ulcers. Environmental stress is also implicated in gastric ulcers. Different trainers have different incidents of ulcers in their horses, the time in training also has an effect on the

NUTRITIONAL FACTORS WERE THE HIGHEST RISK FOR ULCERS, IF HORSES ARE LEFT WITH NO FORAGE FOR MORE THEN SIX HOURS THIS SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASES THE RISK OF ULCERS. percentage of horses with ulcers, the highest percentage of horses with ulcers occurs five months after starting training. Surprisingly, even playing the radio in stables is associated with ulcers. If a talk radio station is on in the stables, horses are 3.6 times more likely to have ulcers. A music radio station means horses are 2.8 times more likely to have ulcers and the longer the radio is played the more likely the horses are to have ulcers. Training at the same location where the horse is stabled is associated with increased ulcers. The mainstay treatment of gastric ulcers is omeprazole, but Dr Corley emphasized the need for a few management practices in order to reduce the incidence of ulcers. These included keeping a calm and quiet environment for the horses, allowing constant access to forage and to feed less concentrates and to turn horses out in the field as often as possible in pairs or groups.

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| M E R I A L R A C E D AY |





he final speaker was Warren Schofield, who gave an overview of diagnostic tools for modern equine lameness investigations. Research over the last 20 years has shown that a horse lame in the foot looks the same as a lameness originating in the shoulder, so it can be difficult to accurately diagnose the problem. There have been four main areas of development in the field of equine lameness diagnostics over the last few decades:

1. Bone scanning or nuclear scintigraphy

This is a screening tool for the entire skeleton, the limbs, back, neck and head and is not just useful for lameness diagnosis, but for assessment of poor performance, where a specific lameness is not obvious on examination. Orthopedic pain is now recognised as the most common cause of loss of performance and non-work days in racehorses. He commented that at Troytown Grey Abbey Hospital, they scan approximately 150 horses per year. The scanning shows up regions of



“hotspots” where there is any increased bone turnover. These hotspots in performance horses are regions of bone remodelling – either fractures, stress fractures, stress bone remodelling, arthritis and sometimes, though rarely, bone infections or tumours. It is a highly sensitive method and therefore extremely useful for confirmation that something isn’t there, such as a stress bone reaction. For example, when considering stress fractures in the pelvis of racehorses, the scan will identify over 98% of horses which have a fracture, compared with ultrasound scanning, which will only identify about 50% of horses with a fracture.

2. MRI Scanning

MRI scanning is used to image feet, pasterns, fetlocks, cannon bones, the ligaments, tendons up to the carpus and hock, and even carpus and hocks themselves, if the patient is cooperative. The strength of MRI is its ability to show soft tissues and bone on the same image and to have multiple directions to find the right angle to assess the structures. It gives definitive, noninvasive assessment of bone pathology.

3. Lameness Locator Device

A relatively recent innovation, developed by veterinary researchers at the University of Missouri, uses lightweight sensors on the horse’s head, pelvis and right pastern to assist clinical judgment during lameness investigations. It is good at quantifying levels of lameness and can be used to assess the response to diagnostic anaesthesia.

4. Diagnostic anaesthesia

Diagnostic anaesthesia remains an extremely important part of lameness investigations, giving an approximate guide to the region of pain. However, it should be remembered that it is approximate and just one stage of the investigation. The talk concluded with advice on how to get the best out of MRI and bone scanning, highlighting the need for case selection and prior workup investigations, but when used appropriately they are both powerful, accurate tools in lameness investigations. The well-attended seminar finished with lots of stimulating discussions amongst the speakers and delegates over a late-lunch and some exciting racing on the Gowran Park track.



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n the wake of the now infamous incident in which jockey Davy vy Russell was seen to strike his horse on the head prior to the start of a race, the marked diff fference between ffe the media reaction in Ireland (more forgivi ving) and that in Britain (more vin damning) was commented upon. Just one example of the wi wide variation, as between wid



European countries, in public opinion on horse welfare, and animal welfare more widely. In some regions, the ‘volume level’ wid wi of discussion of such matters is turned up high; not so in others. In a sport wi with no global Rules book, wit it would be strange if these cultural diff fferences were not refl ffe flected to some fle extent in the practices and regulations of indivi vidual racing authorities. And vid sure enough, they are. Indeed, what a

country’s Rules of Racing says about its culture would make for a fascinating study. One could make a crude start by marking up, on a map of Europe, the number of whip strikes allowed in a race by the various countries. Very broadly, it would resemble a climatic map of the continent, wiitth higher numbers accepted in the hotter south, reducing as one travels north until reaching the point of zero tolerance in Norway.

| EMHF |

Skim through the Rules book in any of our countries and you w wiill i ffiind i a plethora which promote the welfare of our racehorses. In many casees, that aim m is indeed their sole purp pose. These Rules an nd proccedures fall into many caategoriies – from the horse-care component of the course which a trainer must pass in order to be granted a licence, to the req quirement for a miniimum number of vets to be present before a race meeting can tak ke place, to enforced stand-down periods followin ing the administration of certain veterinary inteerventions, to the mandatory abandonment off jump racing when the ground is designated ‘Hard’ – the list goes on and on. And nd while explanations and a rationale can ofte ten be found for a given country havi ving adopted one particular policy over vin others, in many cases, this would seem to be the result merely of historical happenstance, wiitthout any burning underlyi ying principle. yin I found it an interesting exercise taking a random selection of fi five European racing fiv nations – Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, Spain and Sweden - and comparing their Rules in a number of specifi fic areas fic chosen by the German Direktorium’s Racing Director and EMHF Executive Council member, Rudiger Schmanns. For example, consider fi first their Rules fir relating to two wo-year-olds. Restrictions on the distances over which two wo-year-olds are asked to race are universal. But in

Spain tw two-year-olds w cannot reappear on the racetrack wi wiithin ffiive i days of their last run, and in Germany juveniles may no ot run more than 8 timess and d there is also a speeciiall wh hip thatt mustt be used d – shorrter than th he normal crop, at <4 40cms. In Czech Rep public, the same whip is useed as in racces for older horsees, but a loweer maximum number of strikes (4) applies. An nd d in Sweeden, the whip cannot be used at all on a two wo-year-o old, except for correction on the shoulder (a resstriction which applies, unusually, to jump races, also). Let us turn to more general Rules, not limited to two-year-olds. While the need for a starting stalls test in advance of a horse’s debut outing is universal, Sweden goes further, requiring all horses to take part in a qualifi fication race. fic When it comes to fl flu vaccinations, a high flu degree of commonality ty is eviid dent, although Germany is an outlier in insisting on boosters being administered to its hometrained horses no more than nine months apart, as opposed to annually. In Sweden, a horse may not race wi within four days of wit a vaccination – in Germany and Czech Republic the moratorium is one week long. How quickly may horses turn out to race again? In Czech Republic or Germany, there must be at least one clear day betw weeen outings. In Sweden, two wo clear days are required. In Spain, no horse may be declared in a race until any race in which

it has previ viiously been declared has been run – which normally guarantees a gap of at least four days. An An nd jumpers in Germany must run no more than ttw w wiice i w wiithin i any 12-d day perio od. Germany is also unique amongstt this group in seetttiing an age limit fo or raceh horses (15 years old). It also caaps the number of times horrses may race: a general lim mit of 25 tiimes in the current year, plus, for jumpers only, a maximum of 10 outings for th hreeyear-olds and of 12 ou utings with i hin any 12-month period for older horses. Tubing is outlawed in all these countries except Ireland, where the on nly stipulattion is that the operation cannot have been perrformed wi within a week of the wit horse running. All these Racing Authorities forbid the All Al racing of pregnant mares beyond 120 days – but the Czech Rules go fur urther: pregnant mares are not allowed to run at all. Ireland, Sweden and Spain ban horses which have been subject to a neurectomy. In Ireland and Spain, if a horse has received an intra-articular administration of a corticosteroid, it must be stood down for a fortnight. While in Germany, Sweden and Czech Republic, this applies to any intra-articular administration. Ireland extends this principle to such events as respiratory infection, coughing, illness, stress, injury – all attract a time period during which the horse cannot run.




| EMHF |

emergency care procedures, the aftercare of racehorses and the use of the whip. Such concern need not be seen as wholly altruistic. At the individual level, a healthy racehorse will perform best for its connections; more generally, as the IFHA recognises “the health and welfare of racehorses, in all stages of life, (are) fundamental to the long-term viability of the sport.”


The German and Czech rules require horses to be shod on all four feet; the Swedish also, but only for races on turf. In Spain, for certified veterinary reasons, a horse may remain unshod behind. Ireland has no requirements as to which feet must be shod. All the countries other than Ireland have signed up to Article 32 of the International Agreement, which now prevents horses which have fallen to be re-mounted with the intention of continuing in the race. (An exception did apply in Czech Republic for the Velka Pardubicka, where the rider has been allowed to re-mount once only, but this is to be withdrawn). The EMHF recognises European trainers’ concerns at all the subtle differences in the Rules which confront them when they race internationally and it was a subject discussed at our Executive Council Meeting, as described below. But, while the inconsistency of approach is very evident, so too, is the fact that never



has concern for the health and welfare of the thoroughbred been more central to the agenda of racing’s administrators. The racing world is on a journey and we share a direction of travel. There may be differences in how many times one can strike a horse, but every change in the Rules – and there have been many of late – has seen a reduction in this number, never an increase. Take Ireland as but one example of this sharpening focus. Here, plans are underway to develop a Horse Welfare Strategy, in conjunction with stakeholders, which will cover racehorse aftercare; to introduce a fatal injury post-mortem programme to identify accurately the injuries that are occurring and feed this information into an injury prevention programme; and to introduce assessment of horses by use of a ‘Racehorse Welfare Index’. And this heightened concern for welfare is being driven from the top. The EMHF’s parent body, the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA), has just made available to its member racing authorities around the globe a series of ‘Principles of Good Practice’ drawn up by its Horse Welfare Committee. These guidance documents fall under headings such as the monitoring of racing injuries and fatalities, activities to minimise injury and optimise horse welfare, veterinary

Last year, Jonathan Perree, Stewards’ Secretary at the Channel Islands Racing and Hunt Club – a role akin to Racing Director in many racing jurisdictions was elected onto the EMHF’s Executive Council, alongside representatives from Ireland, France, Britain, Germany, Turkey, Morocco, Sweden and Czech Republic. This year, the Channel Islands played host to our annual Executive Council Meeting, receiving delegates the day prior to ‘The Clarendon’, their August Bank Holiday fixture at the picturesque Les Landes racecourse, which stands on an elevated spot in the north-west corner of Jersey. The relationship between the weather on the island and the size of the crowd apparently traces a U-curve: too dismal, and people will stay indoors, but too glorious, and the lure of the beach often wins out. All the more pleasing, then, that, on this most perfect of summer afternoons, the crowds did turn out in decent numbers. In addition to a hurdle race and three other Flat events, they witnessed a strong weight-carrying performance in the £3,750 Clarendon Handicap from locally-trained Black Night, who effortlessly humped 10st 12lbs round the mile and a half trip, having previously been beaten just 8.5 lengths in a Deauville Group 3. Black Night was expertly called home by regular Les Landes commentator, Mark Johnson, who engagingly bills himself as the ‘voice of the Jersey, Kentucky and Epsom Derbys’.



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From how many tracks around the world, I mused, can racegoers gaze out over several islands (including Guernsey, Herm and Sark) and indeed to another country (the French mainland is but a few kilometres distant)? The Executive Council Meeting the next day covered much ground, from new applications for membership to commitments to good governance – on all of which, more in a future edition. Rarely these days does a meeting go by w wiithout i the ‘B word’, and Brexit once again featured in Jersey. It has been heartening how the whole of the European and Mediterranean racing community ty has come together to insist that there must be no diminution of the levels of movement we all currently enjoy when travelling thoroughbreds to, from or through the UK – as happens tens of thousands of times each year. Ease of movement throughout Europe is largely taken for granted – no veterinary inspections, no customs papers, no border delays – and the profound disruption which a ‘hard Brexit’ could bring would ripple across the whole Continent. The EMHF, national administrators and breeders are on the case. Am Am mong the outcomes from the meeting was a commitment on the subject discussed above – the Rules of Racing. I have been aware that this is a matt tter tte close to the hearts of European trainers



| EMHF |

since att ttending t the European Trainers’ Federation’s General Assembly the year before last, when the call was made for consistency. More recently, the subject has been raised w wiith i key European regulators by the ETF’s Chairman, Guy Heym ymans, m who has selected a number of practical areas which can cause trainers confusion when sending a horse abroad, such as the country’s entry and declaration regime, rules on headgear, starting stalls procedures, parades, doping control practices and shoeing restrictions. In Jersey, the Executive Council agreed that the EMHF should look to establish a Rules Committee, as its second Standing Committee alongside its European Union Committee. There is, of course, broad – probably universal - support for harmonisation of racing’s Rules. But while that call is easily fic i policy on made, selecting the one specifi which to harmonise, from amongst the diff fferent f approaches adopted in the various European countries, is more challenging.

Here, the European Trainers’ Federation can play a useful role. Should the ETF come forward in favour of the way a Rule has been drawn wn up in a particular country or countries, perhaps on the grounds that, in trainers’ professional vi view, i that is best for the smooth running of the race or for the horses’ welfare, then this would be a powerful message from a key stakeholder group which should carry weight w wiith i Racing Authorities. It is important to realise that each country’s racing authority ty is autonomous – the EMHF can encourage, but not dictate. Where diff fferences f in the Rules remain, it is important that trainers and others racing internationally w wiithin i Europe have access to as clear a picture as possible of the Rules that apply in the jurisdictions they vi visit. i The information should be easily found and clearly understood. An An nd, while it works towards ving i the nirvana of identical Rules, achievi this is an important ‘second prize’ for a Rules Committ ttee t to pursue.


The beautiful Breton bay at Plestin-les-Greves provided the backdrop for a magical day’s racing when representatives of six of Europe’s seven beach racetracks gathered together for the first time. A personal highlight was the opportunity to track the runners, at a distance of but a few feet, in a customised minibus, with a row of seats set laterally for optimum viewing, la Manche glistening behind. The impression was rather like those sequences now common in wildlife documentaries, where the camera flies alongside the geese! I have been fortunate enough to have raced in nearly 30 countries around the world, but this experience was one I will not forget. Many of the delegates were meeting each other for the first time, and much of the discussion at the following day’s inaugural meeting of the European Beach Racing Association, held in the Tourist Office at the centre of the little town, was devoted to exchanging views and experiences of running – to rigorous standards - pop-up racemeetings on strands of sand. The occasion generated considerable interest from touristic and municipal authorities in this region of Brittany. Already significant to the local economy, there was general recognition that, were beach racing to be better branded, and a recognisable European beach racing circuit and season more widely identified, great benefit could derive to the businesses surrounding each of the seven tracks.


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CLIVE B R I T TA I N Oscar Yeadon



Clive Brittain


n a training career spanning more than 40 years, Clive Brittain and his Carlburg Stables in Newmarket became synonymous with high-profi wit wi file success in fil Britain and on the international racing scene. Clive’s lengt gthy resume of top-fl gth flight wi fli wins win includes six British Classics and overseas triumphs in the Breeders’ Cup Turf and Japan Cup, achieved by horses such as the legendary Pebbles, User Friendly, Jupiter Island and Warrsan. Two years on from his retirement, Clive refl flects on the pivotal moments and fle people in his amazing career.

During your time with Sir Noel Murless, you were part of the move from Beckhampton Stables to Newmarket, which has been your home for more than 60 years. What are your memories of working for Sir Noel Murless and what changes have you seen in Newmarket in this time? “Sir Noel was a very good boss, a very fair man, and never changed. I started out as an apprentice jockey, but I made a very good stable man and went wi with Sir Noel wit St Paddy


and the team to Warren Place. At the time, the stable held around 70 horses, which was a lot in those days, as most of established trainers would have around 50 horses wi with Geoff wit ffrey Brooke possibly ffr havin ing around 60, most of which were two-year-olds. “Sir Noel later became the fi first trainer fir to have more than 100 horses, but numbers today for the larger trainers are typi pically well over 150 horses per trainer. We later had 160 horses between two yards, Carlburg and one at Stetchworth, on Bill Gredley’s estate, of around 30 boxes.” You achieved notable success with longpriced runners in the big races (such as Terimon’s second in the 1989 Derby at 500/1). What do you think of the BHA’s recent decision to put a minimum qualifying rating of 80 on contenders for the Group 1 races for three-year-olds and upwards? “ To put a limit on ratings you are taking a big risk. A lot of my big win inners at home and abroad wouldn’t have qualifi fied! fie “You have to be careful as you do have owners spending big money, but you also

Maureen and Clive Brittain

must never exclude the other owners from the top table. It is still supposed to be a sport, after all. These races are the pinnacle for horse, trainer and owner. If you can aff fford to pay the entry fee, there ffo should be no restriction. “I was often accused of running horses out of their class, but I proved on more than one occasion that the horses justifi fied fie their inclusion. You can’t ultimately assess a horse’s ability until they have fi finished fin racing. “I trained for some great owners, such as Marcus Lemos, who owned Az Azerof and Aze Julius Mariner, who bred and initially owned Pebbles. Sheikh Mohammed came on board and I had a lot of success for Arab owners.” 40 years separate your first and last Group 1 winners (Averof, 1974 St James’s Palace Stakes, and Rizeena, 2014 Coronation Stakes). What developments in training technique came along during your career, and which did you feel were the most beneficial? “One of the biggest advances for Newmarket as a whole was the introduction of the all-weather gallops. These massively cut down the injury rate, particularly the Al Bahathri gallop, which I think once we all got used to it, halved the injury rate.” You were always reputed to be the first trainer to have his string on Newmarket Heath every morning. Was there a particular reason for this? “Well, this goes back to the days before the all-weather gallops. I always wanted to be the fi first trainer on the gallops, fir before 6am, when the ground is freshest. I also chose Tuesday and Friday as my gallop days, as most other trainers worked on Wednesday and Saturdays. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, horses would end up queuing at the bottom of the gallops, which then meant they became frustrated and more stressed.” ISSUE 59 TRAINERMAGAZINE.COM





As one who became a trainer after time served as an apprentice jockey and then stable lad, what are your thoughts on the current staffing shortage in the racing industry? “Any job needs a bit of backbone. I treated my job as my life and I put in what I expected to get out. There do seem to be some people coming into the industry, through a racing school, yet don’t know about what they should be getting into a horse, and are going to the races as ‘readymade jockeys’. You can’t do that. “It’s not a 9-5 job. Racing should be a passion for staff ff; our horses won a lot of ff; best-turned-out awards. “As a trainer, I made a few changes and we were one of the fi first yards to start sending fir out three lots, but also gave staff ff every other weekend off ff, rather than one weekend in ff, three as was the norm at the time. “Evening stables always take time but we always tried to avoid wasting time. One of my habits was to take a packet of Polo mints around wi with me, so I could more wit quickly fi find the horses who were out of fin sorts; if there was something wrong, the horse didn’t come for the Polo.” You’re regarded as something of a pioneer for British trainers when it came to having runners at major overseas meetings. Were you aware that you were blazing a trail for British trainers in those early days? “John Dunlop and Paul Cole were certainly among the fi first British trainers fir to go overseas, beyond Europe, which to me seemed the right thing to so, as the prize money was very good. This was something I noticed as a stable lad when attending races in Paris.




“A lot of the races used to be invit itationals, so it was crazy to overlook them. Sir Henry Cecil wouldn’t run abroad for a long time, but when he did, he was soon converted. “Travelling is now a lot easier than it used to be and the staff ff on fl flights are very fli good. If I had a horse now, I wouldn’t hesitate. Af Afte Aft ter one disappointment wi with an wit overseas runner, we learned that it was best to keep everyt ything simple and the same for yth the horse, particularly their eating routine, so feed and watering times were kept the same. Even a tw two-day interruption to the two eating rhyt ythm could cause trouble.” yth Of all your achievements as a trainer, which were the most satisfying and why? “ The Breeders’ Cup Turf and Japan Cup are certainly up there. Even fi finishing fin

second in the Kentucky Derby wit ith Bold Arrangement. On breeding he should have been 1000/1, but nearly won! I did feel some pride in fl flyin fly ing the fl flag for the fla country, and the money’s there, but the prestige far outweighs the money. “Pebbles was very fl flighty and got upset fli very easily. She would be accompanied everyw ywhere by Come On The Blues. Our ywh head lad Jock Brown got on wit ith her very well and would know exactly at what pace to go wi with her in her work. She wasn’t the wit soundest, either, and probably swam more miles than she galloped. “It was wi with horses like Pebbles that wit all the litt ttle things you have learned over ttl the years come into play, all of which essentially combine to take the stress out of training for the home.” Who has been the biggest influence on your career? “It was while working for Sir Noel that I met my wiiffe, Maureen, who was at that time his secretary. Maureen knows everyt ything about breeding and wit yth ith my brawn and her brains, the combination worked a treat when I was training. “Maureen is now in a care home, Oaklands, just down the road in Bottisham, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the staff ff there. They’re so good and would make the perfect stable lad or lass, given the care and respect they show their residents. “Sir Noel could undoubtedly get the best out of a horse, and was very good wit ith fillies. Just as he infl fil fi fluenced my career, I flu can draw parallels betw tween the late Michael twe Jarvi vis and Roger Varian, who bought vis Carlburg from me. In fact, Michael and I once had a long chat about Roger and we both saw the potential that he has realised.” Which horse, past or present, who you have liked to train? “St Paddy, who I rode at home for Sir Noel. He was a horse who pulled like a train and I managed to get him settled and relaxed. To see him win in the Derby gave me a great deal of pleasure.”




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Trainer Magazine: European Edition, issue 59 - October - December 2017  
Trainer Magazine: European Edition, issue 59 - October - December 2017