17 JUNE 2019 | The eve of Royal Ascot

What to look for in a racehorse

A racehorse is an athlete and therefore its physical appearance, known as the horse’s conformation, is one of the most important factors to consider before you buy.

Rather like human athletes, every horse is built differently and has different conformational attributes. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and many buyers of bloodstock will have a particular mix of attributes that they favour in a horse - from the physical build and athleticism to balance, temperament and intelligence.

David Redvers, owner of Tweenhills Farm & Stud, guides you through key points in selecting a racehorse.

Please click on the individual key points to learn more about the factors to consider before buying a racehorse.
Conformation image of a horse
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Key point

Eye & Outlook

A good attitude and temperament are traits shared by many top racehorses. Positives to look out for include a bright intelligent eye, a nice big ear and an open face. Temperament can indicate how a horse might react to certain situations in the future, so a relaxed horse with a loose walk is desirable given the demands of training and racing.

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Key point

Nicely Balanced

Balance is key to the thoroughbred and the art of galloping. There’s never been a top racehorse that doesn’t have good balance. The horse should be well proportioned with good muscle structure for its frame, and very importantly there should be symmetry in the angle of the horse’s shoulder and pelvis.

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Key point

Nicely Balanced

Balance is key to the thoroughbred and the art of galloping. There’s never been a top racehorse that doesn’t have good balance. The horse should be well proportioned with good muscle structure for its frame, and very importantly there should be symmetry in the angle of the horse’s shoulder and pelvis.

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Key point

Muscle

A racehorse should look like an athlete, and a common trait in athletes is good muscle tone. The muscle should be in proportion to the horse’s shoulder and hind quarters. You don’t want a horse that is too heavy, but rather has sufficient muscle for an elite athlete. A sprinting type will be more muscular than a long distance horse, just as with human athletes.

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Key point

Power

Strong hind-quarters are the source of the horse’s driving power. The quarters produce the energy and propulsion in the stride and should have long, well-developed muscles. At the end of the day, this is a racehorse and racehorses need power to travel at high speed. The stronger the hindquarters the more powerfully the horse can move.

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Key point

Power

Strong hind-quarters are the source of the horse’s driving power. The quarters produce the energy and propulsion in the stride and should have long, well-developed muscles. At the end of the day, this is a racehorse and racehorses need power to travel at high speed. The stronger the hindquarters the more powerfully the horse can move.

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Key point

Stride and Movement

A racehorse has to travel across a great distance of ground at speed so it’s important to see an athletic style and swagger in their walk. A horse with a good walk will have natural balance, a smooth pace and a long reach. Watch out for how the horse uses himself – an active correct step that covers ground is key.

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Key point

Bone Quality

Racehorses need a strong skeletal structure to stay sound and achieve their potential on the track. Key to this is having good bone, and the right amount of bone for its frame. While the hind quarters are the horse’s powerhouse, the front legs are the main pressure-bearers when galloping, and therefore all should be correct and well-structured with sound joints.

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Key point

Foot Quality

No foot no horse is the old adage. You wouldn’t buy a car with bad tyres so you shouldn’t buy a horse with bad feet. Horses’ hooves endure a great deal of pressure in racing, and should therefore be symmetrical and well balanced to withstand the impact of galloping at full flight, while the underside should be oval in shape with some depth.

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Key point

Depth and Girth

Look for plenty of depth in the chest area of the horse, which is from the point of the withers to behind the front leg and across the rib area. This is the area that houses the engine of the horse, the heart and lungs. Good depth and girth will allow optimum space for lung expansion.

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Key point

Health and Wellbeing

A bright attentive eye and a shiny coat and a general sense that a horse is well within himself will give a good indication of the horse’s overall health and wellbeing.

New buyers

Goffs has a dedicated team devoted to welcoming and introducing new people to the world of racehorse ownership. We also offer a private concierge service for new clients.

They will be delighted to meet you and explain the London Sale process – from the catalogue to the racecourse and everything in between.

We can organise a private sale preview as well as making the right introductions to industry experts.

Our client team will be on-hand to help turn your racing dreams into reality.

Enquire now

Please complete the form and one of the Goffs team will contact you.