Racing two year old thoroughbreds


Ratification Date: 20 Jan 2012


Two-year-old horses that are obviously immature in age and development, or have significant faults in conformation, should not be raced.


Two-year-old racing is an integral part of the Australian and overseas thoroughbred racing industry, and there is an international emphasis on the breeding of early-maturing animals. There is good evidence that racing as a two-year-old does not reduce the length of a horse’s racing career (Seder and Vickery 1995, RIRDC 1998, Bramlage 2008).

Recent multi-centre work has demonstrated that early exercise in the racehorse can serve as a form of conditioning for musculoskeletal tissues and can be protective against injury. The early exercise was shown to advance the natural maturation processes in the tissues of the conditioned horses.

There should be close attention to the husbandry, diet, training and racing schedules of young horses to reduce the incidence of exercise-induced injuries. Further measures to decrease injuries to all racing horses should include improvements in track layout design, track racing surface construction, and educational programs for industry personnel.

There is an increased risk of shin soreness in two year olds and horses should be monitored for this and managed as appropriate.

Consideration should be given to the increased incidence of equine gastric ulcer syndrome, respiratory disease and behavioural problems associated with stabling.

Horses should be provided with access to paddock turn-out as often as possible and practicable. Stables should be well ventilated and as open as possible so horses can see out and interact with other horses at all times.

Initial education and training of two year olds should be conducted according to science-based training methods with attention to the principles of learning theory and appropriate use of positive and negative reinforcement. Clear, simple signals should be given to the horse and punishment and inflicting unnecessary pain should be avoided.


  1. Bramlage LR. The racing of two-year-olds. Grayson Jockey Club Research Today. 2008;25;3:1.
  2. Firth EC, Rogers CW, van Weeren PR, Barneveld A, McIlwraith CW, Kawcak CE, Goodship AE, Smith RK. Mild exercise early in life produces changes in bone size and strength but not density in proximal phalangeal, third metacarpal and third carpal bones of foals.Equine Vet J 20;10:24.
  3. Kawcak CE, McIlwraith CW, Firth EC. Effects of early exercise on metacarpophalangeal joints in horses. Am J Vet Res 2010 Apr; 71;4:405-11.
  4. Kim W, Kawcak CE, McIlwraith CW, Firth EC, McArdle BH, Broom ND. . Influence of early conditioning exercise on the development of gross cartilage defects and swelling behaviour of cartilage extracellular matrix in the equine midcarpal joint. Am J Vet Res 2009;70;5:589-98.
  5. Rogers CW, Firth EC, McIlwraith CW, Barneveld A, Goodship AE, Kawcak CE, Smith RK, van Weeren PR. Evaluation of a new strategy to modulate skeletal development in racehorses by imposing track-based exercise during growth: the effects on 2- and 3-year-old racing careers. Equine Vet J 2008;40;2:119-27.
  6. Bailey, CJ. ) 1998. Wastage in the Australian Thoroughbred Racing Industry. RIRDC (Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation Project No. US-25A.Available at:
    Retrieved 12 October 2019
  7. Seder JA and Vickery CE. The relationship of subsequent racing performance to foreleg flight patterns during racing speed workouts of unraced 2-year-old thoroughbred racehorses at auctions. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science 1995;25;12:505–522.

Other relevant policies and position statements

Equine jumping races

Equine competitive events (other than jump races and rodeos)

The provision of optimum veterinary services to the horse racing industry

Date of ratification by AVA Board: 20 January 2012