Ruby Walsh has revealed the most important factors that help make an enthusiastic horse settle down in a race following Hollie Doyle’s impressive ride on Le Don De Vie last weekend.
Doyle became the first female rider to win five races on a card in the UK after a blockbuster display at Windsor on Saturday, but she had to keep a firm hand on the Hughie Morrison-trained charger after a lively start in the Gallagher Group August Stakes.
Discussing Doyle’s performance and the art of training a horse to settle on the latest episode of our now twice-a-week From The Horse’s Mouth podcast, Ruby and Paddy Power favoured very different techniques.
“They have horse whisperers, don’t they?” said Paddy.
“I was out for dinner once and Jean-Claude Rouget was there with a horse whisperer who didn’t speak any English.
“I had a great conversation sitting beside him. I couldn’t understand a word he was saying and he couldn’t understand a word I was saying.
“But that’s the reason they have cheek pieces and all sorts of stuff, isn’t it? To try and relax the horse in some ways. So I’m sure there are training techniques.
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“Usually it’s just about doing it time and time again. Sprinters, in particular, learn while they’re racing.
“The more experienced they get, they learn how to settle and how to become a racehorse.”
Ruby disagrees and instead believes keeping a horse calm has as much to do with positioning as equipment.
“The second-last thing you would do is put cheek-pieces on a horse to make him settle,” he said.
“And the last thing you would do is put blinkers on him to make him settle.
“Therefore I would suggest the absolute opposite of what Paddy wants to do – i.e. wrap them up and make them go forward. He would go for hood, earplugs, maybe even an eye shield!
“Positioning in a race is key. If you can, try and get a keen horse not in among the other rivals.
“Get him behind a horse and only have rivals on one side of him rather than both sides. This is to try and make the horse less competitive.
“Horses are competitive animals so you want to put them in the least-competitive place in the race as you can to try and get them to settle.”
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