Timing is everything in racing and an often misunderstood training tool is a spell and the value created by giving a race horse a spell.
Thoroughbreds are no different from us. You know when you’ve hit your stride at just the right time – it’s when you nailed that presentation at work or when your footy team really connected their play just as the finals loomed. When the timing is spot-on your thoroughbred is winning that pinnacle race you have built your preparation around.
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So when is the right time to spell?
One Australian trainer is famous for sticking to the mantra “ I always try to send a horse to the paddock for a spell with a bit of fuel still left in the tank!”
This means that the horse can go for a break still feeling well often after it has run a top race, maybe even have just won a race. The rationale being many horses spell better whilst still on a high mentally and physically. It is a case of making sure you don’t completely run out of petrol: refilling the tank is easy but towing your car to the nearest petrol station is not so easy.
When you go on a holiday you get down time. You relax, you refresh, you focus on your health, you recover. Thoroughbreds are no different.
Shannon Betts, Owner and Founder of Emeran Park where Saganaki is currently spelling, explains to us that whenever a horse comes to her for a spell in the paddock she wants them to have fun. To play, to relax, to really remember how much fun it is to be a thoroughbred with a finely tuned body. It’s a mental holiday from the track where they can stretch and play, remember all those amazing things their finely tuned body can achieve.
Think back to a young Saganaki showing his owners just how fast he was and then how fast he could stop.
In a young horse a spell is critical for weight gain. Weight gives the trainers so much to work with. It gives the horse something to pull from when the intensity picks up.
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But so is the mental aspect. Keeping that desire in the horses and having them want to push themselves ‘into the red zone’ can only occur with a happy horse. A happy race horse performs better and function better.
A spell can be any length of time, with 6-8 weeks being the average but it is truly dependent on what the individual horse needs.
At miRunners we are delighted to have Kris Lees giving Saganaki his best chance to really build on his frame and come back in the new year as a stronger two-year-old, ready to take on a serious Autumn prep. In every situation all miRunners horses, long-term interests will always be prioritised over any short term attractions.
UPDATE: Shezawitness has sold out but you can still get involved in affordable thoroughbred ownership through miRunners with a number of horses and trainers still available. Click here to go to Our Stable and browse through our range of horses and trainers, all for a low price.