The Philippine Racing Commission Trainers Academy will be opening to a second batch for training this year, and invites all those who wish to become racehorse trainers to enroll.
The Academy offers a two-year certificate course for trainers with three semesters of coursework and one of practical work. The second year is one of apprenticeship or hands-on learning with mentors, which is how the racing community traditionally imparts skills and knowledge about the sport.
The Philracom Academy codifies and formalizes the training of racehorse trainers as veterinarian-educators and practicing vets team up with other industry personalities to teach subjects such as equine anatomy, conformation and lameness, and horse training and fitness development.
Materials such as textbooks written for the Academy to be used in its training are soon going to be developed.
One noted racehorse trainer who I hope can find time to write a trainers’ textbook is Dr. Antonio C. Alcasid Sr.
A veterinarian and alumnus of the University of the Philippines College of Veterinary Medicine, he is one of the winningest trainers of all time and an icon of the sport.
Below I quote excerpts from an article he wrote in 2008 about the training methods he used for horses under his care that he turned into champions.
On Little Morning and Gypsy Grey, winners of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office Presidential Gold Cup in 1977 and 1978 respectively:
“Little Morning was a chestnut mare by Zamazaan. She was a stayer and a puller. She had a mean finishing kick which she unleashed in the last three furlongs of the race. Her running style was off the pace. Her best performance came when she was allowed to loaf during the early part of the race on a slow gallop, letting her finish off the last three furlongs of the race.
“She was a puller and that gave me some concern. I hit upon the idea of using on her the double rein, which is connected to the cinch of the saddle, passing through the bit towards the jockey’s hands. [Note: Dr Alcasid was the first trainer to develop and use the double rein in the Philippines; everyone else followed suit after.]
“In the mornings, you could pick her out from among the other horses doing their workouts with her beautiful chestnut coat shining and Jockey Esting Camba straining with all his might to hold her from taking off in a full gallop.”
On Fair and Square, the first horse to win the PCSO Presidential Gold Cup back-to-back (in 1981 and 1982): “Fair and Square was an easy horse to train. He required little fast work, keeping fit on slow long gallops. He had a wonderful temperament and could be exercised by almost any exercise rider. He had a tendency to crib-bite and colic was another of his problems brought about by his sucking in wind. It was probably because he got bored being confined to a small stall.”
It’s insights such as these that are the hallmark of a thinking trainer who cares for the health and wellbeing of his horses.
For those who would like to embark on this career, the deadline for applications to the Philracom Trainers Academy is on March 15. For inquiries, call 893-1453 and ask for Ms. Diding Estandian. The interview of applicants is on March 21 at San Lazaro Leisure Park in Carmona, Cavite.
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