It was just one of many major races of the 2015/16 Australian racing season but still indelibly stuck in my mind.
The 2016 running of The BMW (Group 1, 2400m, $1,500,000: $900,000 winner’s purse) turned out to be the WFA Heavyweight Battle of the Ballooning and Billowing Race Silks.
Two opponents, (also stablemates) drew away to duke it out all the way up the Rosehill Heartbreak Alley.
The winner, by a very narrow margin was Preferment, with Hugh Bowman on top in silks that ballooned then collapsed in a battle to overcome wind resistance, every wayward flurry a disruptive rush of air pulling Bowman and therefore Preferment ever backwards, every stride.
Ballooning is the result of air being forced under pressure through and between any open gap into the cavity separating the silks from the body. The next stage collapse of the fabric is caused by the turbulence surrounding Bowman’s torso forcing the captured air to succumb to the greater pressure, the energy sapping exertion taking toll on a horse already straining to its max.
And there was the hard chasing Who Shot Thebarman, with Blake Shinn aboard in colours so ridiculously ill-fitting that the headwind ripped the silks out of the jockey’s breeches which then flapped hysterically to make WSTB work even harder than his stablemate in the endeavour to better him!
On replay it is still ugly for me to watch.
The margin between first and second; 0.2 length, a head! The prizemoney difference between 1st; $900,000 and 2nd; $300,000; a meagre $600,000!
Both horses were needlessly forced to expend much more energy to overcome the enormous amount of drag generated by the rider’s silks, runner up WSTB especially.
Picture this. With Bowman in Speed Silks Preferment wins by further.
With Shinn in Speed Silks WSTB wins, and by even easier still.
When it comes to down to cutting-edge, legal technology, horse racing runs a long last to every other professional speed-vital sport.
Anything that flaps around on a jockey is going to cause drag!
A jockey’s colours and pants make a lot of noise during a race. That noise is his clothing flapping in the wind. Every single flap pulls backwards on the jockey, and therefore, the horse.
Speed Silks, are the only true aerodynamic jockey silks in the world and can make a real difference when the margins between winning and losing are so fine.
Aero clothing for a jockey that fits properly is a must, a no-brainer. The goal is to have perfectly smooth airflow around the body of your jockey. This is where Speed Silks shine!
Not convinced? Fine, but if you want to learn more, look out for my next post. Or catch up with the future by reading my previous posts.
One day, someday every jockey will wear aerodynamic clothing; just like the big boys and girls competing for keeps in every other professional speed-vital sport.