TRAINING THE ELITE HORSEBy Brian OíMeara
I think I may be the exception to the rule here as I am the only one here who has not worked in a stable. I started out with a boy who showed me how to gear up and from there I went about training my own way.
I luckily had the fortune to train New Zealandís top two-year-olds three out of my first four years.
Two of those horses started in the Miracle Mile. All were different in nature and build and were all trained differently. Two of them won 12 of their first 14 starts. Tuapeka Knight retired nearly undefeated.
Now that brings me to the training of the Elite Horse.
Cullen was a strong natured strongly built individual who gave me an awful time breaking him in. It took a bit of patience and for two weeks I had the rest of the staff on the track to stop him running off as he would take us all on and refuse to move. Slowly he came out of it and today would be as kind and willing a horse as you would find.
Cullen also in his last two years has only once worked with another horse and does all his work solo which mainly consists of strong pace work. In the USA In The Pockets were inclined to pull very hard in their races. Now Cullen relaxes great.
The main thing is to work out the individual and how much work load he needs also how much feed he needs to maintain his build and fitness. This I find can differ greatly from horse to horse.
A horse that has great speed I will do a lot of strong work with and little speed work. Where as a horse with little speed I will sprint more.
Most of my good horses go in the cart every day and are hoppled a lot as two-year-olds.
I have this theory that if you want to be a runner it doesnít help how much swimming you do and if you want to be a swimmer it doesnít make much difference how much running you do. The greatest example of this is there are more world records broken regularly in the swimming pool then in any other sport and water hasnít got faster.
Cullen is not jogged. He does a reasonable amount of work every day for half an hour in the cart. As he gets fitter I work him a fraction faster but you must watch how he is eating. His weight and muscle will tell you if you are being too hard on him. I think this side of my training is the hardest to explain to staff in how I want them to train my horses.
Alex Purdon was the man I watched and learned from the most. Alex said to me when he was seventy no one could understand him. I thought he was the best.
I never use a stop watch yet Cullen and Spirit of Zeus both ran their last half in 56 or better first time off the place at workouts as two year olds.