The true stars of horse racing are, undeniably, the horses. But when watching the Grand National, or browsing the Cheltenham Festival guide, have you ever wondered what makes a race horse so special? Here are a few interesting facts you should know about them.
- Most modern-day horses come from one horse
Britain is known as the homeland of thoroughbred horses, but maybe you didn’t know that most of them have a common granddad. Eclipse, born in 1790, was one of the first race horses in Britain and is the great-great-great-grandfather of over 80% of modern racehorses.
- The official birthday of all horses is 1st January
To make it easier to calculate the age of a horse for competition purposes, all racehorses born in the same year have their official birthday on 1st January.
- Flat race horses start (and finish) their career early in life
Most flat race horses start to train for competition when they are only a few months of age, and can start racing at two years old. Some of them even retire by the time they are four, the age when most jump horses start their career.
- Race horses enjoy an excellent quality of life
Horse racing is one of the best-regulated animal activities in the world, with the health and welfare of the horses coming first. Committed to providing the best possible care to the animals, British Racing has invested over £27 million in veterinary research and education over the past two decades.
- More than a sport, horse racing is a true industry
British Racing employs over 6,500 people to provide constant care and attention to the 14,000 race horses registered in training.
- Most horses have a successful second career after they retire
Most horses retire from racing by the age of four, but this doesn’t mean their career is over. On the contrary, most of them start a successful second career in other equine disciplines, including showing, polo, and dressage.
- Racehorses stand among the fastest animals on the planet
A thoroughbred racehorse can easily reach 70kmh and cover 100 meters in half the time it would take the fastest humans to cover the same distance.
- Race horses eat a huge amount of food each day
The average daily calorie intake for a race horse is 35,000 in the form of a combination of forages, including grass, hay, corn, barley, and oat. Furthermore, a racehorse drinks between six and eight gallons of water per day.
- On the contrary, jockeys must avoid fatty foods and carbs
Just like horses, jockeys must also follow a strict diet; however, the main purpose of a jockey is to keep their fitness level high and weight level low. As such, they must avoid fatty foods and carbs.
- Impressive heart rates
During a race, a horse’s heart can pump up to 300 litres of blood per minute. In other words, each horse’s health must be carefully monitored before, during, and after a race to ensure it can reach his or her full potential.