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Horse body weight

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  • #20692
    • Total Posts 2169

    interesting piece by Alan Aitken in today’s SCMP: … 20104c.asp


    When our counterparts from Europe consider what the difference is between their sprinters and those from this part of the world – let’s call them Australian-breds for the sake of the exercise – then they might consider the comments of British jockey Neil Callan after he won on Straight Gold last week.

    Callan told the Post he had ridden Group-winning sprinters at home that basically didn’t give him anything like the feeling Straight Gold gave him in winning at the bottom of Class Two. He said: "I’ve ridden some good sprinters at home in the UK, but the feel you get from the southern hemisphere horses is completely different – this is a big, powerful horse."

    And, as a relatively immature summer three-year-old, Straight Gold is going to get bigger and more powerful than the 1,186 pounds he scaled at declaration time for that race.

    Consider Silent Witness, who weighed something similar at the same early time in his life as December turned to January in his three-year-old season, but wound up presenting at around 1,300 pounds by the time he was retired four years later.

    If Callan is impressed by the size and power of Straight Gold, then he will be gobsmacked if Australia’s hulking Hay List or the great mare Black Caviar make it to Royal Ascot this year. Black Caviar has raced at close to 1,300 pounds, while Hay List’s racing weight before his extended injury break was well over 1,350 pounds. Big kids, indeed.

    And a look at recent Hong Kong Sprint body weights suggest there is something in it, even though we have all seen huge horses that couldn’t run out of sight on a dark night and smaller horses punching well above their body weights.

    The local runners in the Sprint averaged the best part of 10 per cent heavier than their visiting rivals, with an average body weight of a solid enough 1,143 pounds against their polite 1,058. Of course, the smallest of the Hongkongers won the race – northern hemisphere-bred Lucky Nine at 1,089 pounds – but he was still heavier than most of the visitors.

    That falls below the rule-of-thumb average body weights at a Hong Kong meeting, as local owners have a preference for bigger horses – as agents will tell you with a grimace – which would fall somewhere around 1,100 pounds, and that includes the horses racing over longer distances.

    Like human beings, contestants tend to get smaller on average as the distances get longer, which is why we have seen a tiny horse like Vallee Enchantee able to win the Hong Kong Vase in 2003, despite weighing in at only 818 pounds, though at that weight she would still qualify as some sort of exception no matter what the trips.

    • Total Posts 1990

    Ask the BHA why they don’t provide the racing public with this information and they’ll tell you it’s not of sufficient importance or interest to justify the cost.

    Go to a certain BHA director’s website and, once you’ve clicked through all the ‘always trying’ logos you’ll find him justifying his high training fees by citing his weighbridges.

    I’ve actually asked MJ if he’d publish a snapshot of his horse’s weights (just a snapshot not day to day variation) as an indication of the size of his various charges. He said he’d consider doing so, but I don’t think he ever went through with it. I believe some brave soul linked to his stable tries to get this info out though. He appears to be trying to indicate in a sort of semaphore in the Big Blue markets five minutes before the off!

    • Total Posts 22

    1,186 lb would deff not be unusual for a big sprinter in uk weighing horses as a form guide would be very confusing even to the most knowlageable better let alone the betting shop punter

    • Total Posts 42

    Basic laws of physics would dictate that heavier horses should carry burden better and hence have an advantage assuming they are similar ability….simplifying force equals mass times acceleration etc . In terms of affecting results though other things may appear much more significant so probably not so esential from a handicapping perspective but may be interesting from a fitness/condition angle if the data was available here.

    To illustrate the effect the way I understand it… In pounds per length using two horses one weighing 1300 lbs and one weighing 1100 lbs both carrying 126 lbs and running 60secs over an imaginary 6f track on fast ground where 1 length is 1/6 seconds …..from a handicapping point of view it would theoretically take 3.96 lbs to slow the heavier horse down by a length (1300+126)/360. It would only take 3.4lbs to slow the lighter horse down by a length (1100+126)/360.

    • Total Posts 5709

    To illustrate the effect the way I understand it… In pounds per length using two horses one weighing 1300 lbs and one weighing 1100 lbs both carrying 126 lbs and running 60secs over an imaginary 6f track on fast ground where 1 length is 1/6 seconds …..from a handicapping point of view it would theoretically take 3.96 lbs to slow the heavier horse down by a length (1300+126)/360. It would only take 3.4lbs to slow the lighter horse down by a length (1100+126)/360.

    Nice though it would be, I strongly suspect such a simple linear relationship is incorrect

    You mentioned the ‘basic laws of physics’ and quoted F=ma

    In addition to Force, Rest Mass and Acceleration doesn’t one also have to consider Momentum, Inertial Mass, Work, Velocity, Speed and Energy?

    As for a non-imaginary 6f run round an arc e.g Chester, I fear Torque, Moments and Derivatives would become involved too

    Newtonian Mechanics – I feel a cold sweat coming on :)

    • Total Posts 660

    I remember a physics question from an old exam paper gave students some tricky weight/power sums to do and then asked them to use them to explain why fleas can jump as high as elephants.

    I agree with Drone this is not as simple as it may seem. See also Galileo’s musings on the bones of large animals. Mass increases with height cubed but bone strength with radius squared so bigger animals need proportionately thicker bones. Hence King Kong could not exist in reality as his bones would break when he started to walk.

    • Total Posts 660

    I think as Glenn suggests, the key issue is variations in individual horses’ own weight over time, rather than between horses. It seems that if a horse is a long way from its own optimum weight it is effectively a non-trier. This would be useful info at Wolverhampton perhaps. Presumably, expert paddock watchers could detect weight variations visually but for most of us it would be fairer to have a weighbridge in the paddock.

    Eclipse First
    • Total Posts 1569

    Trying to get a racehorse onto a weighbridge in full racing tack just before it is due to race wouldn’t upset any of these highly strung animals. Paddock watching is an artform that take practice and an investment of time. As stated earlier in the thread it would be an extra piece of meaningless information for the majority of punters.

    • Total Posts 5709

    Kasparov and Eclipse First,

    Horse weights and the weighing of them has been discussed many times here on TRF. Here’s a small selection I found using the search keywords ‘weigh’ and ‘bridge’ … eighbridge … ge#p285829 … ge#p164016

    • Total Posts 4602

    weight distribution in the body
    would be another factor and the
    size of the feet.

    Toby Balding’s Beech Road
    impressed me greatly with
    the muscle and width of its legs.
    The way they were
    partly shaved accentuated this.

    I am not often track side
    but on the subject of size
    I was at the Cheltenham festival
    in November and I was hugely impressed
    by the gargantuan 2 year old which won
    first race on the Friday ridden by Ruby Walsh

    • Total Posts 42

    Drone, Kasparov,

    I totally agree with everything you say. Of course, in reality in the real world all systems are much more complex than simple linear assumptions. But in my example (admitedly rather rushed and over simplified) if you assumed all of the complexities and unknowns (i.e. air resistance, coefficients of friction, course characteristics etc etc etc etc) were constant then the weight of the horse would have a proportional effect on ability to carry burden. That can’t be denied- though as you point out difficult to quantify.

    It’s unlikely to be of any use from a handicapping point of view due to the inaccuarcies – was just trying to point out to those that may not have thought about it before that there probably is some fundamental ‘Newtonian’ basis for the old adage ‘a good big one will beat good little one’.

    I’m sure similar calculations are behind the handicapping fundamentals we all use in terms of pounds/length and why figure compilers would use different pounds/length calcs for different going (slower more testing going/slower time to complete distance = less weight required to slow horses down).

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