THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 5 August 2009, Wednesday
Ask any equine specialist the number one factor for horse performance in racing and chances are she’ll answer, ”Nutrition.” As in any sport, athletes need to be well-nourished to reach their peak condition and and sustain it, something that goes for horses as well as humans.
The debate on type and quality of feeds has raged for decades in racing circles. Some trainers and horseowners advocate the simplicity of locally-produced feeds such as oats and ”matamis” (sweet feed), while those with bigger budgets may opt for imported brands.
Is there a difference between local and imported formulas? Many veterinarians say a slight edge in performance is noted with the use of imported feeds. Says veterinarian Dan Arreola, ”I used to be in the feeds business before I started my veterinary practice. Whether it’s feeds for horses, pigs, or other animals, the quality of local feeds depends on the availability of ingredients -which aren’t always available.” If money were no object, which would he recommend? “I’d say go for the imported for its formulation and quality control.”
One of the brands gaining many fans here is Australia’s Hygain, especially for their racing blends Racetorque and Powatorque.
Racetorque is a complete micronized sweet feed with added bio-available silicon (for strong bones), Vitamin E for antioxidant and immune system benefits, chromium (reduces lactic acid build-up after races and workouts), and selenium (prevents fatty oxidation that may cause tissue damage). Rice bran oil, omega essential 3, 6, 9, and other nutrients are included to improve skin, hoof, and coat condition, and provide other nutritional benefits that maximize horse health and boost performance.
Equine nutritionist veterinarian Steven Duren will arrive from Singapore on August 12 to give a presentation that evening about Hygain feeds at the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club. Admission is free for interested parties from all the equine disciplines. Call Josie at 331-5076 to inquire.
Meanwhile, racing circles are abuzz with the speculation that a 2YO racehorse currently competing in the elite juvenile ranks was foaled two months earlier than its registered date of birth of January 2007. The horse is an ”island-born”, born in this country to a broodmare imported in May 2006 while pregnant.
The Australian breeder of the horse provides a December 2005 “last cover date” or service date for the mare. Since light horses such as thoroughbreds, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual, have a gestation period of 11 to 11.5 months, this would mean that the controversial 2YO was carried by its dam for 13 months.
The Philippine Racing Commission inquired into the matter, and the horse’s connections replied that this particular case was “abnormal” in that the gestation period for this horse really was 13 months. Citing information from one of the foremost breeding ranches in Australia, where cases have been reported of 13 to 14 months’ gestation periods, the horse’s connections contend that such prolonged periods of gestation are not totally unknown in breeding circles.
Why the brouhaha over this issue? What’s a couple of months here or there? There are railbirds who are vigilant about matters like this, since a couple of months’ advantage in age may mean the difference between winning or losing. More than that, the requirements of a level playing field must be met, for fairness and sportsmanship to prevail in a sport that depends for its income on its credibility with bettors. ***