Sport Science Relevance and Integration in Horseracing: Perceptions of UK Racehorse Trainers

Holly M. Richardson, Rachel Collins, Jane Williams

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    Abstract

    Whilst equestrian sport science research has expanded over recent years, and technologies to positively impact training and performance have been developed, long-standing traditions and experiential learning in the racing industry still appear to impede the integration of sport science knowledge. This study used semi-structured interviews to investigate the perceptions of eleven national hunt and flat-based racehorse trainers to determine the current status of sport science integration within the racing industry, the perceived barriers to its uptake, and areas where trainers sought further knowledge. Three key higher order themes emerged from the interviews: the current training and monitoring principles for health and fitness of racehorses, trainers’ attitudes toward sport science research, and areas for potential future research and integration of sports science in training. Subjective methods grounded in personal experience were found to form the basis of racehorse training principles, with the application of sport science minimal, namely due to poor integration strategies. Negative connotations arising from a general lack of understanding of the application of knowledge and a scepticism toward adapting already successful principles, as well as pressure from industry stakeholders, appear to create barriers to sport science uptake. Trainers felt a stronger evidence base emphasising performance benefits is needed to overcome these. Where trainers identified areas of research potential, many studies had already been undertaken, highlighting the necessity for effective dissemination strategies to demonstrate how research could apply to industry practice. Increased educational initiatives to showcase technology and improve trainer understanding and application of currently available sport science knowledge is also warranted.

    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages16
    JournalComparative Exercise Physiology
    Early online date1 Apr 2019
    DOIs
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Apr 2019

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    racehorses
    Sports
    sports
    Industry
    industry
    Research
    interviews
    Interviews
    Technology
    Problem-Based Learning
    stakeholders
    learning
    Health
    Pressure
    Monitoring
    monitoring

    Keywords

    • performance analysis
    • training
    • monitoring
    • technology
    • Equestrian

    Cite this

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    abstract = "Whilst equestrian sport science research has expanded over recent years, and technologies to positively impact training and performance have been developed, long-standing traditions and experiential learning in the racing industry still appear to impede the integration of sport science knowledge. This study used semi-structured interviews to investigate the perceptions of eleven national hunt and flat-based racehorse trainers to determine the current status of sport science integration within the racing industry, the perceived barriers to its uptake, and areas where trainers sought further knowledge. Three key higher order themes emerged from the interviews: the current training and monitoring principles for health and fitness of racehorses, trainers’ attitudes toward sport science research, and areas for potential future research and integration of sports science in training. Subjective methods grounded in personal experience were found to form the basis of racehorse training principles, with the application of sport science minimal, namely due to poor integration strategies. Negative connotations arising from a general lack of understanding of the application of knowledge and a scepticism toward adapting already successful principles, as well as pressure from industry stakeholders, appear to create barriers to sport science uptake. Trainers felt a stronger evidence base emphasising performance benefits is needed to overcome these. Where trainers identified areas of research potential, many studies had already been undertaken, highlighting the necessity for effective dissemination strategies to demonstrate how research could apply to industry practice. Increased educational initiatives to showcase technology and improve trainer understanding and application of currently available sport science knowledge is also warranted.",
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