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N Z Vet J. 2005 Feb;53(1):59-68.

Profiling the New Zealand Thoroughbred racing industry. 1. Training, racing and general health patterns.

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  • 1Epicentre, Institute of Veterinary Animal and Biomedical Sciences, Massey University, Private Bag 11222, Palmerston North, New Zealand.



To describe patterns in training, racing, and general health in a population of Thoroughbred racehorses in New Zealand.


A longitudinal study was designed to collect data on horses training under the care of 20 selected trainers from 20 different stables and five regional training venues in the mid to lower regions of the North Island. Data were collected from trainers at approximately monthly intervals between October 1997 and July 2000, and electronic data containing race and trial results for all starts in New Zealand for the same time period were obtained from New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR). Summary statistics were used to describe patterns present in the data. Horse training days and study days were used as the denominator horse-time-at-risk for incidence rate estimations, and counts of horses and events used to derive proportions and cumulative incidence estimates. Simple statistical comparisons were completed using parametric and non-parametric procedures.


Twenty trainers provided information on 1,571 horses, 554,745 horse study days, and 9,963 starts in official trials or races. Males comprised 50.2% of all horses. Although females contributed more study days for 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds, males contributed more study days in horses aged > or =5 years. Horses spent an average of 71% of their time in training and the remaining 29% in spell periods. Duration of training preparations and spell periods was associated with horse age and the reason for a spell. Most horses began a training preparation doing slow work and then progressively advanced to a first start by 68 days after the start of a training preparation. Incidence rate estimates for starts, training days to first start, and training days between successive starts in the same preparation, are presented. Horses completed 2.5 starts per 100 training days with a median of 17 days between successive starts for the same horse.


This study provides summary information on training, racing and general health patterns in Thoroughbred racehorses in the North Island of New Zealand. Although limited to simple comparisons and descriptive statistics, these results may contribute to the identification and prioritization of issues facing the racing industry in New Zealand.

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