We sat down with harness racing trainer/ driver Lance Justice and asked a few questions on how to choose the next group 1 horse in your stable. Lance Justice has trained 19 group 1 winners in his career with horses such as SMOKEN UP NZ, SOKYOLA NZ, WHIRLEY DREAM and UNCLE PETRIKA NZ. You could say he has proven track record for identifying raw talent. “Choosing a horse that’s ready to run is a less hit or miss way of identifying the next champ.” Lance stated. But he still has a keen eye for a well conformed yearling with a nice temperament and great bloodlines.
Below are 5 tips Lance gave us to choose your next Group 1 winner…
1.A HEALTHY HORSE… When you’re assessing your next potential horse, its important to assess the overall health of the horse. Things to look for are, hoof health and condition, coat condition , evidence of parasites and oral health . Any issues with these can mostly be overcome when you take ownership, but will take time and patience to rectify. Some health issues, for example any issues with airways, can be more cause for concern when choosing a new racehorse. A vet check is recommended prior to purchase.
2.TEMPERAMENT… All of the greatest race horses seem to have one thing in common , they have an arrogance about them, they know they are the best. Choose a horse that is sensible , willing and has brains.
3.CONFORMATION… A strong shoulder , deep girth, a strong well developed hindquarter , and clean legs. The ideal horse has good clearance between the front legs and that comes from having a decent chest width and proportionate sized knees.
4.CLEAN GAIT… a natural pacer or trotter, one who is set in their gait. With no brushing of the knees and a straight body and neck when navigating bends. Astute trainers will know how to adjust the gait with aids and corrective farrier work but starting with the least problems is recommended.
5.HIGH SPEED… All of the best and most successful racehorses have the ability to cruise at a higher speed than a normal horse, so inevitably this attribute is crucial. If a horse has high speed but can’t sustain it for long periods its possible that fitness is a factor, inhibiting the horse from running to its true ability. Choose a horse with natural high speed, and train them in a way that will enable them to sustain that speed for long distances. This combination is devastating to the competition. SMOKEN UP NZ is true testament to this.
Credit: Photography, Sarah Ebbett Photography : content contribution Lance Justice