Best race distance

The MSTN gene

The results

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This horse will run best over short-distance races and sprints of 7 furlongs or less with a further genetic advantage for races of 5-6 furlongs.

Over shorter distances, the requirements for acceleration and speed are most important.

Horses with an overwhelming bias to sprinting may lack the endurance and stamina to race over long courses with extended home straights and turns.

Elite racehorses carry sets of genetic markers that can indicate a clear race-distance preference. Knowing your horse has a genetic advantage for a specific race distance can inform training and racing decisions.

The common denominator in every race is that the winner is always the horse able to maintain the highest average speed over the distance of the course.

The MSTN gene has been identified as strongly predictive of the best race distance in thoroughbreds.

Power, speed, and race distance

This variety of thoroughbred can produce sharp bursts of speed and tactical pace on race distances of up to a mile.

With a stride bias towards strength running, this horse is powered by a high proportion of type 2X muscle fibers that can move into gear quickly and anaerobically to produce great strength and stride frequency. With a greater stride frequency, this horse requires less time to reach top speed out of the start gates.

This horse is innately suited to sprint races up to a mile in length. It may race on the pace, or be a successful back marker capable of a late run at the final stretch.

However, these muscles can’t sustain this process for more than a mile, so this horse can’t keep up the pace over a longer distance. Fatigue is likely to be expressed through reductions in stride frequency and galloping speed.

Optimizing strengths and weaknesses

Training this thoroughbred for endurance, strength, or speed can bring out specific characteristics that will influence performance, muscle size and power, ensuring this horse makes the most of its potential.

This horse has a high proportion of fast-twitch muscles that can provide strength and power for intense bursts of speed like sprint races. These muscles can adapt and change in response to use and disuse.

Strength training will enhance this horse’s type 2X muscle fiber.

However, focusing only on sprint work may limit this horse to races of less than 6 furlongs.

This horse can be conditioned exclusively for sprint races of five or six furlongs, or with targeted endurance training, this horse’s ideal race distance can be stretched out to seven furlongs.