Risk factors for superficial digital flexor tendinopathy in Thoroughbred racehorses in steeplechase starts in the United Kingdom (2001–2009)

R.J.M. Reardon, L.A. Boden, D.J. Mellor, S. Love, J.R. Newton, A.J. Stirk, T.D.H. Parkin
Veterinary Journal
March 2013

The objective of this study was to identify risk factors for superficial digital flexor (SDF) tendinopathy in Thoroughbred horses in steeplechase races in the United Kingdom. Potential risk factors for SDF tendinopathy were studied between 1st January 2001 and 31st December 2009 using a cohort study design with 648 injuries sustained in 102,894 starts. Potential risk factors were screened using univariable logistic regression prior to multivariable model building.
In the final multivariable model, 12 statistically significant risk factors were identified. Variables that increased the odds of SDF tendinopathy included firmer going, increased horse age, and racing in the summer compared to other seasons. Variables that decreased the odds included having a higher official rating and the number of starts in the preceding days.

Fewer and different risk factors were identified than in an equivalent model of SDF tendinopathy in hurdle racing, highlighting potential differences between these disciplines. Further collection of training and racecourse information would be beneficial and may help to explain further some of the associations identified in this study. The results will facilitate the development of strategies to improve overall safety of horses in UK steeplechase racing.