University of Limerick
2011_Quish,Carol.pdf (1.47 MB)

Performance and progression of Irish point-to-point horses

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posted on 2023-02-09, 15:08 authored by Carol Quish
Point-to-point races are steeplechase races for novice horses, some of which may subsequently graduate to professional National Hunt (NH) races on the racecourse. There have been significant changes in the Irish racing industry over the last decade and these changes have also affected point-to-point races. There is limited research data detailing how these changes have influenced Irish point-to-point races. In order to assess the effectiveness of point-to-point races as a training platform for novice NH horses, a better understanding of the factors which affect the progression and success on the racetrack of the graduate horses is required. The objectives of the current study were to assess changes and emerging trends over a seven year period of point-to-point races and to analyse factors affecting the progression and success of horses which graduated from Irish point-to-point races. Three point-to-point seasons were selected for inclusion to assess changes and emerging trends over seven years of Irish point-to-point races: 2000, 2003/04 and 2006/07 seasons. Two point-to-point seasons were selected, 2003/04 and 2004/05 to analyse some factors affecting the progression and success of Irish horses point-to-point horses. A control sample of horses which raced on the racetrack only was also created for the research (Racetrack-Only horses). The analysis of the three point-to-point seasons highlighted that the number of entrants, runners and individual horses competing in each season has increased by 32.2, 36.6 and 48.7% respectively, over the study period (p<0.001). The number of races held in each season has also increased by 34.2%, however the increase was not distributed evenly across the different race types (p<0.001). The mean age of the individual horses competing has decreased from 6.7 ±0.04 to 6.0 ±0.04 years over the course of the study (p<0.001). The number of 4-year-old horses competing in point-to-point races has increased by 136.7% over the study period. As horses aged they ran more point-to-point races with the male horses running more times than the female horses at every age examined in the sample (p<0.001). The finishing rate has improved over the period of the study; however the overall finishing rate for this sample of horses was only 45.6%. Horses which ran more races in each season of the study, were less likely to finish (p<0.001). Only 51.4% of the Irish point-to-point horse sample graduated to the racetrack and 48.6% did not graduate (Graduate vs. Non-Graduate horses; p<0.001). The mean age at first race start of the Graduate horses was 4.9 ±0.02 years, the Non-Graduate horses was 5.2 ±0.03 years and the Racetrack-Only horses was 4.8 ±0.03 years (p<0.001). The Graduate horses in the sample had the longest racing career length of the three groups of horses examined (p<0.001). The Graduate horses raced 16.2 (±0.23) times, the Non-Graduates raced 5.9 (±0.12) times and the Racetrack-Only horses raced 16.1 (±0.33) times during their entire racing career (p<0.001). There was no significant difference between the Graduate and the Racetrack-Only horses in the total number of race wins (1.64 ±0.045 vs. 1.59 ±0.060 wins). The Racetrack-Only horses had the highest finishing rate (89.0%) of the three groups of horses examined (p<0.001). The analysis of the career earnings of the three groups of horses highlighted that the Racetrack-Only horses earned (€35,730 ±2,526), the Graduate horses earned (€13,650 ±1,007) and the Non-Graduate horses earned (€200 ±10; p<0.001). A mean performance index also showed a significant difference between the three groups of horses examined. Point-to-point races have increased in number and provide a valuable function for NH racing in Ireland. However, point-to-point races appear to cater for a different type of athlete, a slower maturing animal with less potential as is reflected in significant fewer racetrack successes as compared to Racetrack-Only horses. A cause for concern going forward is the high proportion of horses which earn very small amounts in winnings.



  • Master (Research)

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Sean Arkins





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  • Biological Sciences

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