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    Continuity and diversity in nineteenth century and contemporary racehorse training

    Westgarth, Laura Jayne (2014) Continuity and diversity in nineteenth century and contemporary racehorse training. Masters by Research thesis (MA), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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    This thesis explores stability and diversity in the approaches taken to training National Hunt racehorses by nineteenth-century trainers and those of the modern day. The work first explores horseracing as a sport in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, including consideration of social class, gambling, and the structures surrounding horseracing, particularly the operation of the Jockey Club, as a means of establishing the way in which horseracing operated in this period. This part of the thesis also explains how racing employees operated, the costs of training, and how the role of the trainer evolved from grooms training for their employer into that of public trainers with large racing yards. This section is followed by consideration of the training methods employed during the nineteenth century, with a focus on the practices of purging, sweating, exercise, diet, and physicing, as well as explaining how racing yards were managed. The key research findings of the thesis are then presented in two chapters, the first of which discusses the way in which 'communities of practice' have operated in training stables, both in the context of the nineteenth century and in the context of contemporary racing. These 'communities' allow the passing on of knowledge through generations of racing trainers, through kinship as well as through close working relationships. Some biographical examples of both historical and contemporary trainers and their kinship groups/communities are presented. The final section of the work presents the thoughts of modern trainers, gathered through a series of interviews conducted with leading figures in the field of racing. Trainers discussed their perspectives on nineteenth-century practices and compared those with their own. The thesis concludes by considering these responses and highlighting points of diversity and continuity between historical horseracing practices.

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