What Makes A Good Racehorse?

Breeding of racehorses is a lucrative business with good horses fetching a fair amount of money. In fact the most expensive racehorse ever sold goes by the name Fusaichi Pegasus and was sold in 2000 to Coolmore Stud in Ireland for a whopping $70 million (the equivalent of £53.7 million).

But not every horse is created equal and it takes a special something to become a race winning racehorse. So what exactly does make for a great racehorse?

Body Structure

The way a horse is built is the most important factor for determining if it will end up being a good racehorse. The arrangement of the muscle and bone all come in to play here and this physical appearance of a horse is known as conformation. While no animal can be perfect, breeders look for great conformation when considering a beautiful athlete.

Breeders will look at if a horse is well proportioned, if its bones are heavy or light, if its frame suits its muscles, and if the horse is physically fit and capable. In addition, a good race horse will be sound. While all thoroughbreds are relatively fragile a sound horse will have good feet and ankles and strong bones and joints. This means that the horse is more likely to withstand the pressures placed upon it and hold up to a rigorous training schedule.

Mental Wellbeing

Alongside the physical structure of the horse, another thing that makes for an excellent racehorse is a strong constitution. Uneasy horses that can’t stay still and consistently walk around their stables don’t typically make for good racehorses.

A sound mind, alongside a sound body, is an essential part of withstanding the training that racehorses go through and ensuring the necessary focus is there when needed on the racecourse.

Appetite and Desire

This refers to both the horses physical appetite as well as their competitive desire. A horse that simply doesn’t want to race isn’t going to do it. They won’t put their all behind the race or they may be unpredictable when the stocks are lifted.

When it comes to physical appetite a good racehorse needs to have a healthy appetite in order to build the muscle mass it needs in order to be competitive. However a horse that is too focussed on food and just wants to eat everything will struggle to focus and may be difficult to get it to play now or to train.


In order to ensure all of the above factors line up, people look at the pedigree of a future racehorse. Different sires will produce different offspring and different riders look to the lineage of a horse to help determine its characteristics, for instance if it will be more speed driven or a dynamic powerhouse that can go the distance.

When looking at a good racehorse don’t only look at the Sire’s side but also consider the female, or the Dam, and what her racing lineage and offspring history looks like. If many of the offspring of these parents never ended up making it to the racecourse this could indicate that the lineage may be prone to injury.