Excellent question, Emma.
Was watching Trackside tonight and realised the gallopers leave the birdcage, run down to starting gates, load and then they're off. Why is it different for standardbreds, in NZ anyway. They leave the birdcage and seem to do several rounds of the track for a warmup, for at least 10 minutes anyway. Any reason for longer pre race warmup? Or is it just here that this happens
Excellent question, Emma.
The main reason is the "apparent" need for the punters to see the horses warming up prior to them dispensing with their hard earned.
In NZ at both codes horses are required to be on the track starting their preliminaries 10 minutes prior to race start time.
Gallopers are naturally a jump, run and bust scenario, even on the training track. They are not into long slow warmups. The tracks are bigger and the races shorter.
With harness arcing usually the tracks are shorter and the races longer. In the 10 minutes allotted the pacers can do a few laps of their track in warmup...consistent with the many more miles they race and train.
You may notice that coverage of gallops on Trackside demands preliminaries be shown...usually in a prerecorded mode.
No such coverage is afforded the harness racing punters by Trackside. They say their prerace coverage shows the horses in motion amply.
Being trackside especially when having a punt & so able to watch the prelims. can be a HUGE advantage. I don't know how many horses I have seen that looked pretty scratchy in their gear during the pre race routine that went on to jump it off as the arms folded back or soon afterwards. You rarely if ever see enough of them prior to the race on Sky to be able to make a similar observation.
I think there is much more to it than providing punters with an opportunity to have a look at the horses before having a punt.
There is a definite tendency for drivers not to warm their horses up nearly as hard these days as in the past but back 20 years ago it was very common for horses to be given a solid warm up prior to the race before the one in which they were engaged and again prior to their own race. There used to be horses all over the track.
I'm not sure if it is still the case but in the US horses were commonly warmed up on a couple of occassions prior to warming up again immediately before their own race.
This was definitely not carried out for the viewing of punters and trainers clearly believed there was some beneficial reason for doing it.
Less than a month ago a very prominent trainer of years past complained to me that his driver only jogged around despite the instructions that he had given him to give the horse a good solid warm up.
I think Emma's question is a very good one.
Is there a benefit to be obtained from giving horses a solid warm up or have trainers throughout history been getting it wrong?
If there is a benefit, why is it that the practice has never been embraced by galloping trainers?
If we look outside horse racing, top athletes and sportsman never compete without a pre-competition routine of stretching, exercises, warming up, etc. If for no other reason, I think it would definitely reduce the rate of injury.
In NZ we do not have warm up tracks and with compressed programmes warm ups on the main track outside of the 10min prior are very rare indeed and only at the behest of the stewards.
Harness horses warmed up as they have done and still do on any training day or workout daywith 2 to 3 laps jogging in preliminary whilst gallopers were beginning to tend toward the Australian way of ambling to the starting point. Now they are expected to go to the start at reasonable canter with the rider aboard.
When Trackside first started (1990) bringing the track to the off course punter they/we (I was part of it) surveyed ideas to showoff the runners prerace, the powers that be began to police the rules of old for the benefit of the punter seeing the horses moving at more than a walk.
Trevor, I hate to break the news to you mate but it is my very firm belief that one of the BIG reasons why so many used to come out and give their charges a fair old tune up a couple of races prior to actually going forward in anger for the cash specifically had to do with what a relatively small but nonetheless successful number of them they were using in their pre race drenches/darts.
The huddled & starving masses watched from trackside the racing sucesses of the serial drenchers and the dart men who were sending them down the road in solid pre race hit-outs...and the trend caught on. That's all it was.
Little did they know at the time that Arm & Hammer and packages from Canada were responsible.
This 'horses warm up so punters can see them' idea is the biggest load of crock I've ever heard.
A warm up is beneficial to performance and injury prevention. Warm muscles means increased flexibility which increases stride length, while warm joints means increased mobility which will increase stride length. Whether drivers do it for this reason or just to follow the trend is another story. If you went around and asked drivers this same question the answers might involve a fair a bit of umms and ahhs.
Also, some drivers might want to get their horse on the bit and/or let them know they are about to race. Just like the training track, the horses don't just go straight out there and start going hundred mile an hour (in most cases I'd hope).
If any drivers out there are warming there horses up purely because Mr Tabman told thems so they are missing a few cows from the top paddock.
Not sure if true but my reason for gallopers not warming up would be because they are so pea hearted
Anyway, good question Hermione, I think this topic was raised before and the best answer I seen came from the user 'Flashing Red'. I know one of her reasons was the 'second wind'. I have tried the search engine but couldn't find her post unfortanately.
Last edited by teecee; 04-18-2012 at 03:59 PM.
So watching them pre race you don't get the odd sign that all is not 100% with a horse? Granted, it doesn't happen often but it does happen. Sometimes they'll be rough gaited, there'll be head nods, they're sweating, hanging, etc.
It is also interesting how some horses are notably 'lame' when they 1st step out onto the track. A lot of them will just warm up out of it, we had one like that ourselves a few years back, and they are for want of a better term 'racing sound' by the time the gate starts to roll...but insofar as the way they initially step out, geeze, sometimes they look terrible.
I saw one at Penrith a little while back and initially he looked just dreadful, was sore in the hocks I think, I thought he'd be Vetted out for sure, but he pretty much warmed up out of it and raced Ok too.
In saying that, for most of the TAB-PubTAb-ClubTAB-Sky home view Punters, I'll concede that making a specific point of showing close up vision of pre race scores for each horse is going to be as effective/useful a tool for them as gear change announcements continue to be.
When the vast majority watching can't discern a good gaited/comfortable/happy to be there horse from a door knob & don't know a tongue tie from a crupper there's not much to be gained I guess.
On that note, casual observers could easily be forgiven for thinking that the TAB's prefer to keep them in just such a state.