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Int Breeders Meeting 1: Yearling X-Ray Study

Wednesday, 12th March 2008

A study conducted by the University Of Melbourne has found "most common bone abnormalities revealed in x-rays taken from sales yearlings have no effect on subsequent racing performance, based on number of wins & prize-money earned," reported racingpost.co.uk. The researchers looked at more than 80,000 radiographs taken from over 2,400 yearlings & followed the horses through their 2YO & 3YO careers before drawing their conclusions. Dr Chris Whitton told the veterinary session of the International Breeders' Meeting in Melbourne: "The bottom line is, radiographic lesions at yearling sales have no or limited effect on future performance." The x-rays were held in the repositories at 8 sales conducted by Magic Millions & Inglis in 2003 (the year repositories, which house radiographs to be examined by vets hired by potential buyers, were introduced in Australia). The x-rays included 34 different views of each yearling. Researchers found 4 types of lesions had "a notable effect on performance": horses with more severe sagittal ridge OCDs (osteochondritis dissecans lesions) in their hind fetlocks were "10-times less likely to start as a 2YO or 3YO" & "tended to make their debuts later & have slightly fewer starts. However researchers found no difference in the number of wins & prize-money earned by these horses. Whitton explained: "My reading is that these horses are slower to mature." Horses with any OCD lesion of the stifle "performed at a slightly lower rate"; so did horses with a bone formation on their front sesamoid. However the effect was small enough that "it's hard to get excited about them", concluded Whitton. There were 8 types of lesion that had no effect on performance "including bony fragments in the fetlock & sesamoid fractures".

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