Assessing early season fitness (2)
Last month we looked at horses that were still backward at the beginning of the Flat season. The coronavirus
outbreak has put paid to this season’s early fixtures, but we are all looking forward to an eventual return to
normal life, and with it the resumption of horse racing.
When racing does restart, some trainers will have their strings further forward in condition than others. Until
there is sufficient form in the book, the best way to judge fitness is in the racecourse paddock. In many races
there’s likely to be a wide variation in the fitness of the runners, and so it will be helpful to know what to look for.
A horse’s fitness will show in its coat and in the definition of its muscles, as well as in its demeanour as it
walks around the paddock. The horses in the following photos are fit and well. The shine on their coats reflects
their good health. Their abdominal and loin muscles are tight, and the outline of their ribs shows faintly. Their
hindquarter muscles are well-defined.