Dubai World Cup: A day in the life of a racehorse

How champion trainer Al Raihe gets the best out of his charges

  • The first horse is led out of his barn into the main yard at grandstand Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
  • A quick snack before the race Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
  • Every detail is looked into prior to the race. from tip to toe, grooms ensure that the horse is at his Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
  • It’s showtime... ali rashid and jilani lead their contender into the parade ring Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
  • Working off the set list, the tack is placed on each horse Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
  • The grooming process Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
  • A quick snack before the race Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
  • A work rider begins his day Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
  • Working off the set list, the tack is placed on each horse Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
  • Ali Rashid keeps a close watch as a work rider adjusts the tack ahead of a workout Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
  • Ali Rashid and his assistant Jilani Siddiqui lead stable jockey Royston Ffrench out of the yard in prep Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
  • SPO_130314_HORSE ROUTINE 14MAR2013 SPORTS Horses taking bath after morning workout. PHOTO: Virendra Saklani/Gu Image Credit:
  • It is very important to wipe him dry Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
  • The responsibilities of a groom include mucking out stables, feeding the animals and making sure they have s Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
  • Putting bandage on horse's leg before the race at Meydan. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
  • SPO_130314_GROOMING-AR 14th MARCH 2013 SPORT Grooming of the horse before the race at Meydan. For Dubai World Image Credit:
  • Grooming of horse. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
  • Grooming of the horse before the race at Meydan. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
  • Employees polishing the hooves with oil before the race at Meydan. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
  • Horses during a morning workout at Meydan. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
  • Feed being readied after morning workout. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
  • Place being readied for horse after morning workout. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
  • Place is being readied for horse after morning workout. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
Gulf News

Dubai: If you think being a racehorse trainer is all glamour and prestige, you might want to think again. The reality is that the demands of the job involve packed schedules, drastic lifestyle sacrifices and enormous levels of pressure.

It certainly looks glamorous and prestigious, but what you don’t see are the long hours spent training, the gruelling shifts and the pressure.

“ I love talking about horses, and can just go on and on. But I guess both of us still have a lot of work to do. So let’s go and try to win some races.
 ”
-Ali Rashid Al Raihe
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But, at the invitation of Ali Rashid Al Raihe, the three-time UAE champion trainer, and his long-serving assistant Jilani Siddiqui, Gulf News spent a day at the Grandstand Stables and was given a fascinating insight into the typical day of a racehorse.

What strikes you most is that everything works to a routine, driven with clockwork precision by a well-oiled team.

At the outset, Al Raihe points out that you should never make the mistake of treating a racehorse like a pet. He has one purpose in life — to win races.

In order to give him every chance of bringing home the goods, he has to be well-looked-after, kept happy and, above all, in peak fitness. A lack of fitness will result in below-par performances and can lead to injury.

Early morning training

So what’s it like in a typical day in the life of a racehorse? For starters, it begins in the early hours of the morning, even before the first cock has crowed and before the sun begins to rise.

At the Grandstand Stables, race day commences between 4.30 and 5am, though the staff have to wake up even earlier to begin preparations, before Al Raihe and Siddiqui arrive.

After a quick check-up, the horse is given his morning meal before he is exercised for about an hour. With his groom he is either hand-walked or placed on a hot walker for a short period of time. After this exercise he could be given anything from a light gallop on the track to a fast workout.

Irrespective of what they have done, all horses are hosed down, groomed and then taken back to their stalls for the rest of the morning.

All this is done before 9am to keep them away from the heat, which could affect the condition of a horse. While horses need to be trained, they also need adequate rest. If you overwork a horse, chances are that you will make him unhappy and that could affect the way he performs. Around midday, the horse is given a second meal before he is taken out of his stalls in the afternoon, where the morning routine is likely to be repeated.

Ali Rashid reiterates that getting a horse used to a routine is intrinsic to a successful training programme.

“I love talking about horses, and can just go on and on. But I guess both of us still have a lot of work to do. So let’s go and try to win some races.”