Five Pillars of an Elite Thoroughbred

I would like to share what I believe to be the five pillars of an elite thoroughbred.   You will find this to be the same same worldwide.

I have been in the racing industry for thirty plus years and while I have developed a system of pedigree analysis that  works,  I believe we still have a misconception that type is what its all about.  What I mean by type is how the horse looks.   The conformation, how they move and how nice they look.  Type is important however it  is only part of the picture.

This is my summation of what constitutes an elite racehorse:

1.  Pedigree:

If it was all about type why are all the sales catalogues full of PEDIGREE tables and not photos for the discerning buyer to choose?   It is because blood matters.   The gene pool matters.  You can see this is apparent in Europe where I believe most of the elite pedigrees to be.

Sure,  there is always genetic freaks that despite their modest pedigrees,  become great racehorses.   It is irrelevant whether the “freak” is a colt, or filly.  Countless examples can be tabled and here are just a few:

Barbaro:  A Kentucky Derby winner and a freak of a racehorse.   Modestly bred, his connections attempted five other times with the same mix to find it unsubstantial.

Black Caviar:  A genetic freak and elite racehorse that is also modestly bred and consequently has not bred anything near the talent that she has shown on the racetrack.

Makybe Diva:  One of our favorite mares of all time.  A three time Melbourne Cup winner.   Unfortunately, she has been an abject failure at stud.

You get the idea of where I am going.

In my view,  these examples show  these individuals do not carry the prepotency to pass on the genetic traits which made them great racehorses.  Otherwise they would have.  Most of these mares are being bred to elite stallions or, from a stallions perspective, trying to match up what made them great in the first place.

Working with what  is proven is a great start.

I firmly believe and say to anyone who wants to listen ( or even those that don’t! )  STATS DON’T LIE.   And they don’t.   It is there, plain as day for everyone to see if they take the time to look.

Elite keeps becoming elite.

2. Temperament:

What does this mean?.   I have been around a huge number of elite racehorses in my time and this is an integral part of an elite racehorse.

When the huge race days come around,  it is rare that you see an elite horse with any temperament issues.  They seem to know their job and take it all in stride.  In fact,  they like what is being asked of them.   During the Melbourne Cup carnival time there is  nearly one hundred thousand people in attendance on each of the four days, the colour the noise all have huge contributing factors on whether these animals cope and how they cope and the elite horse does what is asked of them effortlessly.

Also worth noting is at the yearling sales,  horses who cope with the rigours of a sale or take it in there stride it of this huge endeavour that we are asking of these babies but these individuals that have the temperament, the ones that can cope and have one of the traits to becoming  elite.

This  is vitally important otherwise the individual in question will not be elite and is one of the pillars of being an elite racehorse.

3. Ability:

Probably goes without saying but it needs to be mentioned.   With no ability the individual cannot be elite.

That fire the will to win to be able to run time with ease constitutes the individual with natural talent.   It is something that is within them.   It is something that you cannot teach a will to win to be competitive to be able to overcome.   That’s what can make you elite.

4. Constitution:

The individual needs to have a constitution or mental toughness.   If they are poor doers trainers struggle to be able to train them the way that they need to prepare them for races.   It becomes increasing difficult to maintain a free flowing preparation if it is continually being hampered by not thriving.   The horses that can thrive in a preparation eat everything that is given to them and again take everything in their stride and maintain the same attitude make up one of the pillars on an elite racehorse

The individual that can sustain a racing preparation, coping with the stress and rigours of training and racing are also on there way to becoming elite.


A very important facet in maintaining racetrack performance and longevity.   Horses with poor conformation might have great ability but never achieve there full potential as they cannot perform with the structures that they have been provided.   Some only see the track for a brief amount of time which in turn is very frustrating when you have found a horse with great potential.  Injuries continually occur because they go too fast for there bodies to be able to cope and this is heartbreaking for connections involved.


To be able to identify these five pillars you will need to employ an expert who can identify these traits for you.  But be very careful there are many out there who will claim to have the knowledge but many do not.

I have seen this in my time countless wealthy owners come and go who have had huge successes in there respective businesses but when it comes to racehorse ownership lose there minds.

I am not sure if any would do anything in there own businesses without due diligence or would make any decisions without it but when they are buying racehorses seldom do they seek the proper expert advice and most are very fleeting in the game and get taken for a ride getting there fingers burnt without coming back.  This is a great loss to our wonderful industry

I have thought about this numerous over the years and I see the analogy of opening the wood fire throwing bundles of cash into it without thinking.


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