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By Graham Potter | Sunday, December 24, 2017

Graham Potter writes a weekly column for the Sunshine Coast daily. Due to demand from those having trouble accessing the paper these columns are now also published on HRO courtesy of the Sunshine Coast daily.

The publicity rush has already started for the rich Magic Millions race-day which will be held at the Gold Coast on January 13 with the ‘race within the race’ ... the chase by individual runners for a place in the final fields on the big day ... getting more tense by the minute as connections of those horses whose places are not yet secure running out of time to stake their claim.

For some it is a rush job and the argument always arises at times like these as to whether some horses, the two-year-olds in particular, are pushed too hard for their own good at this time in order to make the deadline.

I asked a vet who works within the industry if there was any study or any conclusive evidence about how two-year-olds cope with a racing in general or, beyond that, a heavy racing schedule.

His answer was that there have been different studies which have emphasised different outcomes.

One study says that two year olds can build strength with racing activity and some will actually thrive health-wise on the work. Another study said that if horses start too early, or were pushed too hard, any inherent weakness would be exaggerated and the horse’s ability to go on and perform to its true level of talent would be compromised.

Those conclusions are not as much at odds with each other as might first seem to be the case. In fact it is perfectly logical because every racehorse is an individual both mentally and physically and, as such, they will have different individual responses to any task they are given.

It is a case of two sides to the story and the onus is very much on the trainer to know which side of the coin he is working with and act accordingly. The application of his or her expertise in this regard is paramount in protecting the horse’s well-being.

If they carry off that role responsibly, without succumbing to the temptation of a big carrot or to the pressure from any owners who might be all bright eyed and bushy tailed and ‘pushing’ for a chance to race for the Millions, then all will be well.

For the most part, I think that is the case.

If there is a real devil in the detail it is the obscene amounts of prize money on offer in Australia for two-year-old feature races and the obvious, difficult to dismiss, temptation that offers ... but that’s another story.

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Trent and Toby Edmonds celebrate Houtzen's win in the Magic Millions Two-Year-Old Classic earlier this year
Trent and Toby Edmonds celebrate Houtzen's win in the Magic Millions Two-Year-Old Classic earlier this year
Photos: Graham Potter
Photos: Graham Potter
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