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Why are all Indian race horses 'born' on Jan 1 - By Shailendra Awasthi TNN

Posted on - 01 Jan 2013

Mumbai: Today as you wish all and sundry a Happy New Year, spare a Happy Birthday for India’s race horses. All of them share their birthday on the same day—January 1.

But hold onto your horses. Don’t expect an invite for an evening with the divine equines in their stables. And no, there won’t be any celebratory candles or cakes served to the thoroughbreds. Having a common birthday on the first day of the year is born of the need to simplify the process of racing. So, a horse born on December 31 will in effect be a year old the following day.
    
“This helps in smooth functioning of races,” said Satish Iyer, an expert with the Stud Book Authority of India which records all race horses born in the country. “A common date to calculate the age of a horse simplifies the process of designing races for various age groups. For example, the Indian Derby is open only for horses that are four years old. Having a common birth date helps in determining the eligibility and other terms of the race,” he said. 
 
Buyers prefer horses born in Jan-March
 
What makes more horse-sense is the fact that since horse-racing here is a legacy of the British raj, the Indian circuit still closely follows British racing patterns. In fact, January 1 is the common birthday for all horses in the northern hemisphere.
    
Mares have a gestation period of 11 months and 11 days. Horses born between January and April attain their first birthday (they become yearlings) the next January.
 
Adulthood is when they reach the age of two the next year. That’s when they are considered fit for training and racing. Foals take at least six months to separate from their mothers and t they are kept with others of the same age group to understand their behaviour pattern.
    
Buyers insist on horses born between January and March as those born late may not attain racing maturity despite reaching the age of ‘two’. But some horses are exceptions. Even if they are born late, they have that rare ability to win big races.

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