Some people that are considered “outsiders” to the racing industry sometimes ask me about track work for race horses. In this post I will break down the meaning and the importance of track work to a race horse’s schedule.
Common questions are why is it done so early in the morning (the industry is known for starting long before the sun is even up and before the rooster is ready to crow). What most people fail to realise is that just like a car, race tracks require maintenance to ensure that come race day the surface is at its peak condition that is suitable for holding a race meeting that could consist of 9 or even 10 races.
Therefore, race horses are worked in the early hours of the morning as usually by a certain time in the morning the track is closed for track work to allow the maintenance staff to begin their daily duties. This includes watering the track, checking for any holes that need filling and if necessary moving the rail, getting it ready for the upcoming race meeting.
Some also wonder what is the importance of working a horse every day, well look at it this way… most people go to the gym every day to train and to work on their bodies, athletes practice to ensure that their skills are at optimum levels to allow them to perform to their best in their respective sports- race horses are no different.
What some don’t realise is that the Jockey that rides the horse on race day is not the only rider for the horse, Race horses also have a track work rider, these are those people who get up in the very early hours of the morning and ride the horses in their track work. The purpose of the track work rider is to ride the horse to the trainer instructions and to report back on a variety of crucial aspects ranging from the horse’s movement (is the horse sore, does it feel lame etc) to suggesting gear that the horse may need to wear on race days to improve performance.
Working the horses each morning as mentioned above allows them to keep fitness ahead of going to the races and gives the trainer an indication of how ready the horse is to go to the trials or the races again. Every trainer is different and look for different things when working their horses each morning but it is a crucial part in the preparation of the horse.
Below is some footage of our race horse RAVITUDE having a morning workout, what the trainer was looking for is that the horse is travelling nicely and without injury, also including how well he comes to the line (travels to the finish post). Some trainers will also do time workouts, timing the horse over a distance to see how well it is travelling.