Research into investment of thoroughbred racing

19 November 2013

A University of Canterbury (UC) postgraduate student has been investigating the thoroughbred racing tradition in the Canterbury region.

Research into investment of thoroughbred racing

Colette Holdorf

A University of Canterbury (UC) postgraduate student has been investigating the thoroughbred racing tradition in the region, analysing the social and financial investments and relating them to the emotional attachments that develop between people and their horses.

"The racecourse symbolises a judgement day for owners, breeders, trainers, jockeys and the young horse,’’ UC postgraduate student Colette Holdorf says.

"Years of speculation can be tested and the strong emphasis on shared commitment and cooperation highlights the fact that winning requires a variety of people to do their particular jobs effectively.

"My research, supervised by Dr Piers Locke, has focussed on the racing ‘community’, including the breeding and auction sectors, often given a back seat by race-goers.

An important function of the race relates success by a racehorse on the track as a reflection on the value of its blood relations standing at stud.

"I looked at the interaction between human and animal. Participants in the thoroughbred world know their horse through a variety of daily lived experiences and accept the merging of their human lifestyle with the daily life of the horse, likening their passion to a virus or addiction.

"It was established that the strong bonds created with specific horses are a form of kinship, but also that racing itself becomes a lifestyle, with a passion for racing rather than purely a love of horses being essential.

"The second part of this research focussed on a cultural analysis of the race day as a form of escape into the other world of thoroughbred horse racing. The unpredictability of the racing game sets a backdrop for race-goers to partake of the unique rituals of the day, according to a strong social code.

The escape of the race day combines an acknowledgement of the beauty and ability of the horse with the potential to win money and the seeming grandeur of traditions.

"Combined with previous anthropological research that I had done on racing in South Africa, my UC research has led me to the conclusion that the racing industry provides an essential connection with horses, allowing for a fuller appreciation of the animals, as well as the skills and athleticism of both human and horse,’’ Holdorf says.

For further information please contact:
Kip Brook
Media Consultant
Student Services and Communications
University of Canterbury
Ph: (03) 364 3325
Mobile: 027 5030 168

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