How is the fitness of a racehorse improved before a big race?

How is the fitness of a racehorse improved before a big race?

How is the fitness of a racehorse improved before a big race?

Whether it is dressage, eventing or showjumping news, sports which involve horses are enduringly popular around the UK. Of course, horse racing should certainly be mentioned when talking about this as well. Since the first horse races were run many years ago, this sport has evolved greatly. Along the way, it has grown to attract Royal support and amass a huge army of racing fans who follow the latest action.

One reason for the sheer popularity of horse racing around the UK is the top-class festivals and events which are held each year. This gives the public a chance to see the best horses in action and bet on some truly fabulous races. The annual Cheltenham Festival each March is a great example of this.

With classic races like The Gold Cup to bet on, you will never be short of drama and action at this four-day extravaganza. To get the most from your betting there, why not pick up  Cheltenham betting tips for Tuesday and start Day 1 of this event off in true style? The team at are experts in analysing races and picking out which horses should do well at festivals like this.

They will assess the fitness level of all the horses in any race and the general shape they are in. You, however, can go even further and consider how well a horse has improved its fitness and how well it has prepared for a big race like The Gold Cup. This can help you pick out one who will do well on the day. But how does a racehorse trainer go about this?


Training is key to fitness

As with human athletes, much of the improvement any racehorse shows in fitness comes from regular, safe training beforehand.

In term of getting fitter, the physical aspect of a horse’s training will be key. This physical training is designed to get the horse fitter through repeated exercise sessions. The intended goal is to train the muscles and heart to become stronger and more efficient. It should be noted that the intended results from fitness training may vary, depending on the type of race being run.

A sprinter, for example, may need to train to accelerate faster while a longer-distance horse may train for greater stamina levels. Whatever the specific training needs, the overall goal is to use physical training to be in top shape for an upcoming race. That should see the horse perform well and also reduce the risk of injury. The most common physical fitness training is to take horses out for trots, canters and gallops which build in intensity over a period of weeks. More emphasis may be placed on jump training, quick starts or longer-distance runs, depending on the intended goal. This training may well be reduced as the race day draws near to avoid tiring out the horse.

Option to run in smaller race before big event

While it is vital to not overload the horse in terms of training before the big race, some trainers will enter them into a smaller, easier race a few weeks beforehand to help them increase fitness levels. Doing so can be especially handy if they have not raced competitively for a while. Choosing to do this can also help the trainer see where the training programme a horse is under might need tweaking, to help improve its fitness.


Next to physical training, the diet a horse follows leading up to a big race is important for fitness. They will simply not be in the right shape to perform well if their diet is not correct. For a top-class horse, fat and glycogen are essential. Leading up to the big event, a racehorse’s diet will be high in both these, as well as in protein, starch and fibre. For most, this means eating forage and grains like oats or barley. As racehorses sweat a lot when training, they also need to be kept thoroughly hydrated with water when getting ready for a big race.

Getting a horse ready for the big day is crucial

Just as a footballer could not go and play in the World Cup final without preparing correctly, a racehorse must be prepared properly for any major event. Getting their fitness levels up to scratch is certainly a must and trainers will use all the methods we have looked at above to help with this. One thing is for sure – stories like Many Clouds win at the 2015 Grand National do not happen without the right fitness training being in place.


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