Let's go to France, where reader Gina at GallopFrance.com recently gave me some details on training regimens in her country. That got me thinking, what has gone on in the Arc de Triomphe, their flagship race, over the past century?
A glance at the above chart shows that the improvement in winning times, averaged over a decade, is nearly 500% greater than that of the American classics. 12.7 seconds is the improvement in the Arc, while the American races averaged a 2.7 second improvement.
Coincidentally, or not, a previous post regarding American winning times in the Hambletonian found very similar numbers:
Again, thanks to Ms. Rarick, we find that horses in her care in France are subjected to bursts of speed from 2-3 times each week. Also, training on the farm allows her to spend an hour a day per horse and she uses no raceday drugs, which are illegal in France.
I can only assume the great majority of the French trainers, like Freddie Head with the brilliant Goldikova, condition likewise. Slightly off topic, Goldikova will continue to thrill us in 2011 while Zenyatta is in the breeding shed, another casualty of the economics of racing in the US.
As discussed earlier, nearly all US based horses train trackside, going at speed once every 7-10 days, exercising a total of 12 minutes or less on average, and competing with Lasix and Bute.
I don't want to praise or condemn any country or style, but simply find what is the best for performance. For instance, there is no use of a stopwatch in France, while Americans use it for each breeze - I like this practice very much.
So all of you on here finding this site while searching for 'interval training for the thoroughbred' need to first make sure you are putting sufficient speedwork into your charges 2-3x per week before even worrying about such advanced conditioning matters.