Influence of different combinations of racing years on early career performance in trotters
Saastamoinen, M.T.; Ojala, M.
Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica. Section A Animal Science 44(4): 208-213
The aim of this study was to investigate the frequencies of young trotters and differences in their racing performance in various 'starting age - career length' (SACL) combinations. The annual race records were summarized to provide early career records for two- to five-year-old Standardbred trotters (n = 3080) and three- to six-year-old Finnhorse trotters (n = 2638). The majority (85.7%) of Standardbred trotters started racing at the age of three or four years. Most Finnhorse trotters (76.0%) had their first race as four- or five-year-olds. The most common SACL-combination was the three- to five-year-old season in Standardbred trotters and four- to six-year-old season in Finnhorse trotters, respectively. A statistically significant interaction between the SACL-combination and sex was observed for best career time. Generally, horses starting their racing career young and racing during several consecutive years were superior to other horses in both breeds. Standardbred trotters racing through three to five years of age had career times 5.6, 7.5 and 6.3 seconds better on an average than horses racing only as three-, four- or five-year-olds, respectively. In Finnhorses the differences between the SACL combinations pointed in the same direction and were even greater.