SHOE-IN:  Trainer Sharon Pepper prepares Bingo Bobby for his race at today's Lismore Cup. Cathy Adams
   SHOE-IN:  Trainer Sharon Pepper prepares Bingo Bobby for his race at today's Lismore Cup. Cathy Adams Cathy Adams

Lismore Cup horses relax ahead of their big day today

LOCAL thoroughbred trainers were taking their four-legged athletes through their final paces yesterday in preparation for the Lismore Cup.

Numulgi trainer Sharon Pepper said it was one of the more relaxed days in the typical racehorse regime.

"My horses always have a rest day before their races; it's usually good for their head space," Ms Pepper said. "It keeps them nice and fresh.

"We have a quiet day at home and cruise around the paddock. They like their routine. It gives them some downtime and they run a little bit better on race day."

Keeping horses in a good frame of mind is probably the hardest part of about horse training, according to Murwillumbah-based Matt Dunning. "It's every bit as important as their fitness levels," he said.

His secret weapon: taking them for a run along the beach.

"Every now and again I might take one of them (to the beach) to do something different. It's more of a mental thing. Some horses appreciate it," he said.

Other than that, his horses would run a "couple of slow laps round the track".

Just like humans, thor- oughbreds need special shoes to compete in the races, although they're not of the rubber variety.

The lightweight aluminium alloy racing shoes are mandatory under racing industry regulations because they're less likely to cause serious injury or death if they accidentally come off at high speeds. They also help the horse run faster.

Dallas Rapmund from Northern Rivers Farrier Service said "shoeing" a racing thoroughbred was a little different to your average back-paddock stockhorse. "If you don't get them balanced their back foot will be hitting the inside of the front leg," he said. "They can open themselves up; it's called speedy cutting. If it's not corrected that will just get worse so they'll have to be bandaged up. It also puts more pressure on their joints and tendons."

He's not sure if the horses appreciate it, but they were probably more comfortable. "Having a new set of plates put on always looks nice for the owner," he laughed.



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