While former New Zealand-trained galloper Werther is the punters elect to take out tomorrow's HK$20 million ($3.74m) Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2000m), it is the Japanese raider Neorealism that has been turning heads at trackwork at Sha Tin.
The last start winner of the group two Nakayama Kinen, has looked well in cantering work and attracted more than the usual attention as track rider Shinjiro Kaneko's goggles were adorned with what appeared to be a camera like device.
In fact, it was more than just a camera but also a monitor. Manufactured by Horsecall Japan it is sold as an aid to training and displays heart rate and speed. Adam Harrigan, consultant and interpreter for trainer Noriyuki Hori, explained.
"The monitor, which the rider can see, displays the horse's heart rate in real time and the track work times for each 200 metres split. It's new Japanese technology and while Hori is not the only trainer to use it, he's certainly been among the first," Harrigan said.
"It's valuable, obviously, for the rider to know exactly how fast he's travelling and to have an indicator of how much the horse is exerting himself and, of course, Hori is able to download and evaluate the data from home in Japan."
The heart rate data is recorded via pads inserted in the girth strap while the camera attachment is fitted with a GPS and the data is displayed in a small monitor attached to the rider's eyewear. "I can see the data as I am riding the horse and this equipment is now used with all the horses in the Hori stable," said Kaneko.
Similar technology was used with champion Japanese horse Orfevre who was runner-up in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in 2012 and 2013.
Harrigan said the device is becoming an important training tool. "In a sense it's an extension of measuring lactates and heart rates via horses working on treadmills which has been commonplace for some time. This is just more sophisticated and allows the trainer to tailor work specifically to individual horses based on the heart rate data," he said.
- NZ Racing Desk