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A Dictionary Of Horse Racing Terms - G - Articles Surfing
After being castrated a male or colt horse is said to have been 'gelded'. There are a variety of reasons behind this seemingly rather harsh practice.
By taking a horses mind off sex it becomes more amenable, and calm. A horse becomes less temperamental due to the shift in hormonal balance, which occurs with all neutered animals, including humans.
After gelding, horses are generally regarded as being easier to train and concentrate more readily on their racing.
Even more practical for National Hunt, gelding can prevent the extreme discomfort experienced by 'entire' horses when jumping over hard fences, historically made from birch.
Irish horses intended for chasing are gelded automatically at an early age.
Most chasers are in fact geldings.
For a long time, many big flat races were not open to geldings, but this has now changed with most of the classics now being opened up to them.
One obvious financial argument against gelding is that after winning a major, a colt is instantly worth millions to big stables or stud syndicates.
National Hunt racing would not work without geldings, who are much admired by racegoers, regardless of stud decisions made by prejudiced breeders.
Advance forecasts in newspapers and the formbook advertise the state of the ground for a race meeting.
'Soft with heavy patches' in the formbook indicates muddy patches.
Sometimes differences are noted on different parts of the course I.e. Going: Round course, soft. Straight course, good to soft.
The outcome of a race is significantly dependent on the state of the going. It is arguably THE most important factor in determining a race day favourite.
Comments including 'likes some cut on the ground' or 'likes some give underfoot' should be carefully noted.
Other horses prefer to race when the mud is flying and the formbook will note such horses as being a 'confirmed mudlark'.
Still other horses don't like soft conditions at all and need good going, the formbook will state 'needs the top of the ground', while some prefer really firm going eliciting descriptive comments such as 'likes to hear his hooves rattle'.
Assessing the state of the going falls to the Clerks of the Course, who are open to severe criticism when their assessment is questionable.
Recent advances in science have allowed the art of poking the ground with a stick to become far more scientific with the introduction of a dubiously titled device known as the 'penetrometer'.
One should always examine the weather forecast for a meeting as an essential adjunct to basic form study, and one should know a horse's preference for a particular type of going.
For example at the time a newspaper or formbook is printed the going for any given race may indeed be good, but by the time of the race, heavy rainfall may have changed it to soft or heavy.
In many cases where the going has changed dramatically at the last minute, then a horse with a differing preference to the current going may be withdrawn.
However, it may be seen that vice versa, a late change of going can transform certain losers into possible winners.
The 'going' is therefore uniformly accepted as essential by trainers, and their running intentions for their horses.
Timeform, the Racing Post, and the newspapers publish plenty of good information about the going. Comments such as 'we will only run if we get that', or 'he will only run if its soft' and 'he's only good on good ground' are all well worth noting.
Finally it's important to note that some courses hold rainwater better or worse than others.
For example at Newmarket the ground rarely reaches worse than soft. Good ground or good to soft are almost always the state of the going irrespective of rainfall on the Rowley mile in spring through to autumn.
If you have access to the pre-race paddock inspection you should try to note whether the back or 'hind' hoof coincides or overlaps with the point where the front hoof has been.
This feature is a sign that a horse will gallop well, and the horse is referred to as a 'Good walker'
A remarkable front running Grey, Desert Orchid, was an outstanding public hero between 1983 and 1991, dominating the jumps arena with 34 wins from 70 starts.
Greys account for only 3% of the entire horse racing population, but this ratio gives no indication of their overall popularity, particularly in the National Hunt theatre.
Foaled in 1704 and brought to England via Constantinople by Sir Robert Sutton, all thoroughbred 'grey' horses can be traced back to the original 'Alcock Arabian'.
Copyright © 1995 - Photius Coutsoukis (All Rights Reserved).
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