Lockdown Ramblings 5, Speed versus Conformation

Today as i sat once more in isolation, the world’s troubles seemingly lost on the chattering birds and blue sky i decided to conduct a little experiment. Could i unravel the mysteries of HRP by comparing works to conformation?

So i began by making a little summary of the top 3 works ever on dirt for each trip between 5 F and 1 M and then comparing them to this years top works so far, here are the results:

(Apologies for the format, but if you follow each group of letters and compare them against the way a conformation is laid out then it should make sense.)

5F       all time                                                      2020

VG ML L  VG  M   HM G    A                      I    M  B   I     M   HM VG   LA
I     ML L    I    M   HM G   LA                   VG M  B   VG  M   HM  I     LA
I     M   B   VG ML HM VG  A                     I    M  IS   I    M   HM VG   LA


G  HM  B   A   M    H     G   A                      I     M    L   VG   M  HM VG  LA
G  M     B   G   M   HM  VG A                    VG HM  S     I     M   H    VG   LA
G  H     B   G S M    H     I    A                    VG   M   B     I     M  HM VG   LA


VG  ML    FS  G     M    A     A    LA            VG   M   B    I    M  HM  VG LA
VG  ML    L    VG   M   HM  G    A              VG   M   IS VG  M  HM  VG LA
G    HM    FS   A S  M  VG    A    H             VG   M   FS   I    M  HM    I    L


VG  ML  B   VG   M   ML   G  LA              I    M   L   VG  M   HM VG  LA
VG  ML  L   VG   M   HM   G   A               I    M   IS   I     M   H      I    LA
I      M    B   VG   M   HM   I     L              VG M    B   I     M   H    VG  LA


Well the first and most obvious thing is just how much we have become obsessed with looks in 2020. The thing i noticed immediately about the stats is that when you look at the 2020 ones more or less every horse is pretty much the same, they are all beautiful looking with no real bias towards sprinting or routing, just clones of each other. This cannot be a result of our breeding because it has been said that most conformation traits are not transferable so it can only be for one of two reasons, one, we are killing off the ugly ones or two, HRP are producing more pretty ones. Significantly not one of our pretty horses of 2020 get anywhere near the top of all time, in fact just like our stats above the old timers that set the records were a long way from the pretty horses we produce today.

So have we created a society of pretty but substance less horses, do we get that ugly horse and just shoot it on sight to favor the slower but prettier one or is this a product of the game to encourage breeding and horse production?

They are questions we can’t really answer without the facts that are impossible to get so i will leave it to your own interpretation.

So what can we get from these stats that will help us. Well in comparing the two i have come up with the following results which i think do have some bearing on how we can improve our game going forward.

Firstly in both sets of data the Lumbosacral seems to be far more important than the Forehand when judging ability. True these days the Forehand has become as important but comparing the two it is easy to conclude that If we ignore our need for perfection it is only the Lumbo that is a key element.

The Stifles of our pretty generation are almost exclusively Mid with 11 out of the 12 fastest workers having that trait. That seems significant until you look at the all timers where their prevailing measurement is mid long with 6 out of 12 having that trait. So it seems that this setting must be in the mid level with none of our fastest having low or short stifles

The rear triangle doesn’t seem so important with balanced being the prevailing state but at the end of the day there doesn’t seem to be anything here that can be definitive. That in itself seems strange as most of us seem to judge what a horse will favor by this measurement, short being sprinter and long being a router, however on this evidence it doesn’t seem to matter as much as we think.

Soundness again is something that seems to have become more important to us in recent years but it was also a consideration to the all timers which makes sense as most of the fastest work times come from more mature horses.

The Humerus again is represented by its mid setting with 19 out of the 24 samples having it. That is very significant but it is also significant that short and long are once again absent in the stats.

The Humerus Angle seems to be prevalent in the High Medium setting with 16 out of 24 having it but also significant is that only one sample has anything other than high or high medium.

So there we are, i am actually fairly happy with the findings as they give us a pretty conclusive set of data. The Lumbo should be in the better than good range whilst the Forehand may have been over rated recently and really only needs to be better than heavy. Soundness is important past a juvenile career and the humerus, humerus angle and stifles all need to be in the mid ranges which is significant for all those who seek out the longer setting.

Beyond those statistical findings i think that there are no signs that a horse works like its actual racing trait. A router can work faster than a sprinter over five furlongs but it is doubtful that it could beat a sprinter in a sprint race. Why is that? Well works are generally slower than the races so in the works sense they must be on a completely different set of programming to the races. The winner of the BC Classic very often works five furlongs faster than the BC Sprint winner which seems to be an oversight in the set up of the game which may in the long run be better if it was given some attention.
My final conclusion is that we all need to take a step away from pretty. There may be a point here that by killing off non perfection when it comes to conformation we could have exacerbated the problem of our horses being too similar and adding to our situation at the moment. Maybe that heavy forehand of that short femur should be persevered with in future and we may just see another Alpha Ultimo.

Till next time, stay safe and stay well.

Categories: Editorial, Races, Racing Information

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