Hartpury University international student Patrick Duncan has launched an exciting new venture that uses algorithms to predict which racehorses could be champions of the future.
Patrick’s enterprise, Bio-Cal Thoroughbreds, produces a Biomechanical Analysis Report to provide bloodstock agents, trainers and owners with a scientific and mathematically-based assessment of the potential ability of racehorses.
Patrick, who is studying the BSc (Hons) Racehorse Performance and Rehabilitation degree at Hartpury University, says these reports will bring major benefits to the international bloodstock industry, in which well-bred horses can change hands for millions of pounds.
He explained: “Having had the interest in assessing confirmation of horses at the yearling sales, and having spent many hours walking the lots with different breeders and trainers, I soon realised that there could be more to just the art of ‘eye-viewing’, and that there could be more of a scientific and mathematical approach to identify the elite thoroughbred.
“I started playing with measurements of proven horses and slowly over the last few years have perfected my algorithm, before launching Bio-Cal Thoroughbreds on 23 April.
“Having time during lockdown afforded me the opportunity to develop my website and finally launch my venture, which I have been working on for the last few years.
“I have already received positive enquiries from respected stakeholders internationally.”
He added: “I don’t want to give away too much about how the algorithms work, but in short, it enables the accurate prediction from yearling age, of a thoroughbred’s potential racing ability and optimum racing distance.
“The breeder could have yearlings assessed prior to sale, and utilise reports for promoting their stock.
“The bloodstock agent, trainer, and prospective owner could have a better insight into what they are buying and have a more informed criteria than just the sire/dam pedigree and visual verification.
“The trainer or owner who is seeking answers as to why a horse isn’t performing could gain insight into the optimal distance that, in my opinion, based on my analysis, the horse should be running.
“In terms of predicting the outcome of races, a horse with a high biomechanical analysis score definitely has the potential to succeed.”
“However, one can never overestimate the external influences that play a part on a living, breathing athlete – overall horse care, training quality, ill heath, injury, jockey performance, and luck in the running, all have an influence on a horse’s performance.”
Patrick, who is from Ballito in the KwaZulu-Natal province, said he became interested in the thoroughbred breeding and racing industry when his grandfather took him to view his champion mares and foals at Drakenstein Stud in Stellenbosch, six years ago.
“Until that time, I had always known that my grandfather and great grandfather were involved in the industry as hobbyists, but I had never experienced first-hand the overwhelming magnitude of the equine thoroughbred,” he said.
“From that moment I started following race-meetings and sales worldwide. I soon realised that the interest I had in the industry was something that had absorbed me, and so I started becoming more involved.
“Pedigrees became my highest interest at first, and I started studying sale catalogues and attending sales.”
“As a family we have purchased a number of yearlings, and have learnt the humbleness of the industry in experiencing both the highs and lows.
“Over the years I have spent many hours doing work experience with South African trainers and stud farms.
“Now that I am studying at Hartpury University, I am working part-time at the highly successful Tweenhills Farm and Stud next door.”
Patrick said he is pleased to have chosen to study the BSc (Hons) Racehorse Performance and Rehabilitation degree at Hartpury, which combines industry experience with strong practical knowledge of racehorses.
“I enrolled at Hartpury because it offered a unique degree qualification that spoke directly to my passion,” said Patrick.
“The course has presented an outstanding balance between both practical and theoretical teaching.”
“The knowledge that I have already gained into the anatomy of the equine, and the in-depth academic approach has been amazing.”
“The exposure to all aspects of the industry is enlightening, and the passion of the lecturers makes all the difference.”
Picture: Patrick Duncan inspecting a future racing prospect in South Africa