x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Ready to run

A scientist has demonstrated that racehorses can run better after a long plane voyage. Get those return tickets booked, trainers.

Giving new meaning to the old cliché that it's good to "hit he ground running", a scientist has demonstrated that racehorses do not suffer from jet lag as people do, and in fact can even run better after a long plane voyage.

Herbivores are prey, not predators, and so "a sound night's sleep" can be roughly equal to a death sentence in the prairies which were home to wild horses over the millennia. That's why horses sleep and doze in short stretches, often while standing.

This means that they do not sleep only at night as many other mammals do. Accordingly race horses flown to new tracks are not subject to the draggy weariness of jet lag the way we are.

As The National recounted yesterday, Dr Domingo Tortonese of Britain's University of Bristol has now confirmed what horsemen have long known empirically: right off the plane, horses often run better than they might otherwise. Fans of the upcoming Dubai World Cup take note.

This finding could add horseflesh to the list of products likely to be shipped around under the modern logistical concept of "just in time" delivery, except that quarantine regulations usually mean racehorses can't just emerge from the airport and go straight to the starting gate.

Perhaps that's just as well. Handicapping the ponies is complicated enough without having to know each runner's flight number, too.