Saturday, January 31, 2009

Breakdowns: US vs Australia

I picked these two countries, because the data I've seen shows the US with the highest breakdown rate per 1,000 starts and shows Australia with the lowest rate:

US - 1.43 - california, kentucky, and florida over 4 year span
AUS - 0.39 - data over a 15 year span

So, a horse racing in the US is 3.7 times more likely to suffer a catastrophic injury than is one in Australia. To be fair, I believe US numbers have come down a bit with the addition of synthetics, but not down to the 0.4 range yet.

I focus on the training process. What follows is my anecdotal evidence of the two countries.

Avg time per day of actual exercise:

US - 15 minutes
AUS - 45 minutes

Avg number of breezes per week:

US - less than one
AUS - 2+

Racing frequency:

US - every 21 days
AUS - every 10 days

Number of HR/GPS monitors in use nationwide:

US - less than 5
AUS - over 100

I stay away from the raceday medication arguments, but the US allows it and AUS does not. Also, many US horses race year round on dirt, while many in AUS race on turf.

What sticks out to me is that Australian horses are trained more often, at higher intensities, and become less prone to breakdowns. The US school of thought is that these animals are so fragile that they must be 'babied' during the training process.

Who seems to turn out stronger athletes?

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