Q: What is the typical racing diet?
Answered by Jassy MacKenzie
A: In order to meet the extreme physical demands of racing, racehorses are usually fed a scientifically calculated diet which includes high quantities of concentrates. “Your average three-year-old is on 14% protein concentrate, with a very high energy content,” explains racehorse trainer Ashleigh Hughes, who is in a training partnership with John Vos at Turffontein Racecourse.
Generally, the horses start the day with a small pre-work meal of up to 1kg. They will then receive a morning meal of 3-5kg of concentrates, and may have another small feed early afternoon. Supper is probably 4-6kg of concentrates. Although racehorses do have unlimited access to hay, and lucerne is also fed, concentrates are prioritised in order to optimise their performance on the track.
While this is far removed from the grazing they enjoyed as youngsters on the stud farm, Thoroughbreds adapt, becoming ultra-fit, tuned athletes on their racing rations. However, in the process, they may lose some of the ability to digest forage.