Near Infrared Spectroscopy and athletic performance in Racehorses

Over the past 25 years the use of near infrared spectroscopy in exercise and sports science has increased exponentially. The majority of these studies have used this noninvasive technique to provide information related to tissue metabolism during acute exercise. Recently a NIRS system was used to measure skeletal muscle metabolism in endurance athletes and these devices now have the ability to be wirelessly attached to the body making the application of NIRS to the stage where it can be reliably applied to exercise training and sport in humans to design training programs for athletes, both professional and recreational. The advantage that an NIRS system gives is that the technology is a sing

The ACE gene and athletic performance

Angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE) plays a major role in blood pressure regulation and fluid and electrolyte homeostasis in both humans and horses. While ACE enzyme concentrations in plasma are highly stable in an individual, there is a high level of interindividual variability. In humans, ACE levels in blood obtained from athletes have been correlated with aptitude for endurance sports, that is, lower mean plasma ACE activity is found in the fastest endurance athletes. Additionally in humans, a genetic polymorphism (I/D) in the ACE gene has been discovered and this polymorphism accounts for almost 50% of the variation in ACE activity in plasma. In horses, research results have demonstrat

The efficacy of Milkshaking in Racehorses

A couple of recently published scientific papers took my interest, one of which was on bicarb-loading. There has been a lot of papers written on milkshaking in Thoroughbreds including its effect on cardiorespiratory limits and exercise, the proper amount, and the exact mechanisms behind its success and there is also some conflicting research on its efficacy. However, one of the more interesting papers surmised that the better horses had naturally higher pre-race TCO2 levels, that is, they had a better natural lactate buffering capacity (lasix administration also had an effect). A paper just released by Higgens et al, studied the effects of elevated levels of sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) on th

How much does EPO improve performance in Racehorses?

A new study on human distance runners and their response to EPO has shown that four weeks of every-other-day injections improves 3000-meter running time by an average of 6%. A month after the end of the EPO injections, the runners were still 3% faster than they had been before receiving any EPO. In a world where just a 3% improvement is considered highly significant, a 6% improvement is very strong, and to have a 3% improvement even a month after injections were finished is noteworthy. The study was funded by the World Anti-Doping Agency and “was designed primarily for other purposes.” This presumably refers to testing/detection of EPO in the runners’ blood over the entire period and perhaps

Racing Thoroughbreds at Two and Career Soundness

Yet another study, this one on 160,000 racehorses over a 10 year period in Australia, has refuted the claim that racing two-year-olds is detrimental to their careers. In fact, the opposite is true, those that race at two have longer careers than those that don't. The study was completed by Brandon Veile, Claire Wade and Natasha Hamilton from Sydney University with data supplied by the official Australian race database RISA. The study can be found here. The key finding is that there was "no detrimental effect on a horse's career if it started racing as a two-year-old," Dr Hamilton said in a statement ."The survival analysis showed the risk of retirement from racing decreased the younger the h

Whalebone: The "Adam" of the modern Thoroughbred

In mammals, an individual’s sex is determined by the chromosomes it inherits from its parents. Two X chromosomes lead to a female, whereas one X and one Y lead to a male. Y chromosomes are only passed from fathers to sons, so each Y chromosome represents the male genealogy of the animal in question. In contrast, mitochondria are passed on by mothers to all their offspring. This means that an analysis of the genetic material or DNA of mitochondria can give information on the female ancestry. For the modern horse, it is well known that mitochondrial DNA is extremely diverse and this has been interpreted to mean that many ancestral female horses have passed their DNA on to modern horse bree

Australian Racing Board investigates Hypoxic Training

The Australian Racing Board has seen fit to release a statement regarding hypoxic training in Thoroughbreds. Training in hypoxia is nothing new with the concept being that as altitude increases, the partial pressure of oxygen decreases in proportion to the reduction in the atmosphere pressure and the rate of oxygen transfer from the lungs to the blood cells. This results in proportionately less oxygen being delivered to the tissues of the body. In response to this reduced tissue oxygenation, a variety of physiological adaptations occur including increased circulating red blood cell mass, increased oxygen transport capacity and increased blood buffering capacity resulting in lower lactate lev

The Stride of a Grade One Winner?

As he runs this weekend in the Wood Memorial G1, here is the breeze of Vyjack (by Into Mischief) at the Fasig Tipton Midtlantic 2YO sale last year. He was a $100,000 purchase at that sale from the barn of Al Pike. The high speed camera is running at 500 frames per second to capture his stride parameters (stride length, stride time, suspension time, etc) for stride analysis.

The Central Governor Theory and Racehorses

Fatigue is an interesting concept, especially as it relates to racehorses. Over on Moxy Monitor they have outlined the two standing theories on fatigue, the traditional Cardiovascular/Anaerobic model proposed by A. V. Hill and associates where a lack of oxygen to the working muscles limits exercise performance, and the more recent Hill/Noakes Central Governor model, developed by exercise physiologist Dr. Tim Noakes, where fatigue is generated by the brain as a protective metabolism, i.e your brain regulates your bodies effort to make sure that you only push it so far out of homeostasis. Fatigue of course is not an absolute event in that we continue moving, albeit at a slower pace. Noakes' Ce

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