Equine Endurance Race Pacing Strategy and Performance in 120-km Single-Day Races

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Abstract

Race pace strategy has been extensively studied in human sports such as running, cycling, and swimming. In contrast, pacing strategy appears to have been virtually ignored in equestrian sport despite its potential to contribute to performance optimization. Previously, we have demonstrated that there are significant differences in pacing strategy between finishers and nonfinishers in 120-km single-day endurance races. The aim of the present study was to further analyze the same dataset of electronically timed Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) 120-km (single day) Concours de Raid d'Endurance International (CEI)** endurance races that took place in Europe and the Middle East in 2016 and 2017. The competition records of 218 horses that finished (average completion rate: 56%) in 24 races, each consisting of 4 loops (laps), were evaluated. Final loop speed was significantly increased for horses placed in the top 3 who recorded 12% faster mean speed (P = .011) compared with horses that finished outside of the top 3. Top 3–finishing horses also significantly increase the speed with which they complete loop 3 (P = .040; 3% increase in percentage of loop 1 speed) and the final loop (P = .008; 8% increase in percentage of loop 1 speed) of races compared with horses who achieve lower placings and completed loop 1 at a 3% lower percentage of their average race speed (P = .008) and those who finished fourth or higher. These results suggest that horses that are placed in the top 3 are ridden more consistently.

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