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By Graham Potter | Monday, August 2, 2021

Trainer David Vandyke has verbalised what many of his colleagues are thinking when hitting out at the adverse lifestyle burdens that are part of everyday living for most racehorse trainers.

So much is made, and justifiably so, of the jockey’s situation where grinding schedules, drastic dietary regimes and often outright wasting concerns all contribute to an unhealthy set of circumstances, but the plight of the trainers in terms of the stresses on their health situation is far less a topic of conversation … yet it is as real as that of their riding counterparts.

“I am sick of being always tired,” Vandyke told Ben Dorries of Newscorp, summing up a sad situation.

“The reasons why trainers used to get up so early, which probably date back to when a lot of trainers weren’t stabled on course and some had other jobs and had to get their horses worked before everyone else’s day started, aren’t valid anymore.

“It’s not healthy to be deprived of sleep. It predisposes us to increase our caffeine intake and our sugar intake. We are more prone to diabetes, obesity, heart disease. It’s very unhealthy not to get enough sleep.”

Of course, nobody is forcing Vandyke, or any others, to be a trainer … but the point that Vandyke is making it that it is not as if there is no possible option other than to start at a time most of us would consider as being a ridiculous hour.

“Currently I have to get up at 2.15am to get my horses worked in time and I only get four or five hours sleep. When in this industry am I going to catch up on sleep? Ideally, I would like to start a couple of hours later,” said Vandyke.

“If I started at 5am or something, it would be ideal as that allows us to have sleep in until 4am or something. But even an extra hour would make a lot of difference. If I get an extra hour of sleep every night, then by the end of the week that is almost an extra full night of sleep I am getting.

“People have to remember that if I have a runner at Ipswich and I am getting home from the races at 7pm or 8pm, I can’t just walk in the door and go straight to sleep.”

So clearly, if training tracks were to stay open later than they currently do, that would already help offset the fatigue problem that troubles many trainers.

That perhaps is something that the Queensland Branch of the Australian Trainers’ Association would arguably be best place to negotiate with the individual clubs.

Given these circumstances, it is no surprise that training partnerships are becoming more and more prevalent, but not all of those work out and, for a trainer who wants to contribute to the industry by just running his own business, it can only be hoped that somebody who can influence a change in the old fashioned training track hours is paying attention.

Keeping training tracks open later will not affect those trainers who want to continue with an early start but, as explained by Vandyke, it would be of great benefit to those who need a change of pace.

In other words it would be a win/win for all … so why not do it?

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