Dr. Geoffrey Hutson's breakthrough book Watching Racehorses is out now! Learn about behavioural handicapping: how head tossing, pawing, salivating and other behaviours provide telltale clues about a horse's readiness to run.
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Caulfield Taralye Raceday

May 17th, 2014 0 comments

With only two weeks of the season left till I go into hibernation I have been trying to finalise the photographs for the book. I scored a couple of good ones today. First, hoof pads. They are usually just a thin piece of plastic or polyurethane covering the sole and frog of the hoof and act as a cushion for the sole and heel. A variant on the hoof pad is the MacPad as seen on Elusive King, which is secured by a half-sized racing plate, and provides extra cushioning to the heel. MacPads are often referred to as “flip-flops” as the unsecured part of the pad can separate from the heel.

Second, I managed a half-decent shot of the barrier blanket on I Am Titanium. Of course, the champion horse Black Caviar is the most famous user of the barrier blanket. The blanket, known in New Zealand as the Monty Roberts blanket, was originally designed by Monty in 1992, and is a double-carpeted blanket that fits behind the saddle and drapes over the hips down to the hocks. The primary objective was to cushion the effect of rails that run along the inside walls of the starting gates. The blanket approved for use in Australia is only a single layer and doesn’t have the weight or padding of Monty’s blanket and only covers the hindquarters without extending down to the hocks. The blanket prevents direct contact with the structure of the barrier stall and is left behind when the horse jumps out. You can just about make out one of the loops on the blanket that is clipped to the barrier and pulls the blanket off when the horse jumps.

And I also got a fair shot of the stallion chain used on Khutulun at the barrier. Occasionally you can observe a chain in the mounting yard, but more usually when a chain is listed in the gear list it is only employed at the barrier. The chain is attached to a halter and applies pressure to the bridge of the nose. The recalcitrant horse can avoid the pressure by moving forwards into the gate.

The barrier blanket is a positive, the stallion chain a negative, and hoof pads are too rare to have much of an opinion.   I Am Titanium came in fifth,  Khutulun was second and Elusive King finished eighth.



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