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Horse Racing

End of an era as ‘controversial’ Grand National tradition declared ‘well and truly over’ after 23 years

Major Changes for the Grand National

A controversial tradition at the Grand National, aimed at making the race fairer, has come to an end after 23 years. The 2024 edition of the Aintree race will see significant changes, including a reduction in the number of runners from 40 to 34, approved by race bosses.

Weight Adjustments Revealed

One significant change that has been made quietly is the 'compression' of the weights for horses in the £1 million contest. The top weight for this year's race is 11st12lb, carried by King George hero Hewick, while last year's runner-up Vanillier is a clear favorite with 10st8lb.

End of a Controversial Method

After 23 years, the method of 'compression' of weights, which favored top-rated horses, has been scrapped by BHA handicapper Martin Greenwood. This change has sparked mixed reactions, with some expressing dissatisfaction with the new weight assignments.

Fury Over Weight Assignments

Sun Racing columnist Gary Moore expressed fury over the weight given to Welsh Grand National winner Nassalam, who has been assigned 11st4lb for the upcoming race. Greenwood defended the decision, stating that the horse's performance on heavy ground at Chepstow was taken into account.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a horse’s first step of training?

The initial phase of training a racehorse involves a critical stage known as “breaking,” where the horse becomes accustomed to carrying a saddle, bridle, and the weight of a rider. During these early sessions, patience and gentle handling are paramount to ensure the horse learns to be comfortable with human interaction and the equipment it will wear throughout its racing career.

What are the different methods of race training for different horse breeds and types?

As breed characteristics and race distances vary, so can the training methods for horses. Thoroughbreds that are usually associated with long-distance racing on flat surfaces receive different training from Quarter Horses. Each breed is unique and requires a different approach to match their physical characteristics and behaviors.

How do I prepare a horse to race?

Racehorse conditioning is a gradual, multi-faceted process. It involves both longer, slower distance work, which builds stamina, as well shorter, quicker workouts, which develop speed. The horse’s cardiovascular system, musculature, and skeletal structure must be strengthened over time through a carefully designed exercise regimen that mimics the rigors of racing without causing injury or undue stress.

What’s the role of a jockey in training a racehorse?

The jockeys are essential in the training and development of racehorses. Not only do they ride the racehorses during workouts and give feedback, but they help educate the horse on racing tactics. A good jockey becomes attuned to the horse’s strengths and weaknesses, which is indispensable for race preparation.

How can you maintain the mental health of a racehorse?

The mental health of a racing horse is just as important as its physical condition. Mental stimulation, gentle handling, and regular pasture turnout all contribute to the psychological well-being of a racehorse. It is important to ensure that the horse interacts with other horses, and maintain a calm and stable environment. This will help prevent behavioral problems and stress.

Is a special shoe required for racehorses?

Racehorses usually wear racing plates which are thinner and lighter than regular horseshoes. These plates are designed to provide the required traction while also minimizing the weight. A racehorse farrier will select and fit the shoes according to each horse’s foot conformation, and the surface on which they will be racing.


  • The average racehorse reaches its peak physical ability between the ages of four to five, with some variation based on the breed and individual development.
  • Studies suggest that proper early training can reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injuries in racehorses by up to 50%.
  • The Injury Database from The Jockey Club reports that synthetic racing surfaces have a lower horse fatality rate than dirt tracks, with a statistically significant difference of 1.2 fatalities per thousand starts on synthetics compared to 2.0 on dirt tracks.
  • Racehorse mortality rates during racing have been observed to be between 1.5 to 2 deaths per thousand starts, depending on the racing jurisdiction.
  • Statistically, less than 1% of thoroughbred foals born each year will go on to win a stakes race.
  • The majority of racehorses in training are subject to an exercise regimen that includes being ridden six days a week.

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How To

How To Choose The Right Diet For A Racehorse

To select the best diet for racehorses, you must ensure a balanced mix of grains, forage, and nutritional supplements. Maintain gut health by feeding high-quality grass or hay as the majority of their diet. Use grains like oats as an energy source for workouts. Electrolytes and vitamins in supplements help to support health and wellness. Consult an equine specialist to determine the horse’s specific metabolic and work requirements.