19th Dec 2013
In my early pinhooking days I encountered the inaccurate predictive ability of certain veterinary diagnostics. I had a beautiful colt by a first crop sire and was hoping for a good result. I proudly consented to presale radiography only for this to reveal the buzzword – sesamoiditis. The soothsayers said that the colt couldn’t race at two, the dream was over. We sold at a loss.
The colt in question contested the second two-year-old race of the season where he was beaten a neck, was subsequently stakes placed at two and sold by his canny connections to the US where he became a Stakes winner. Sample pool of one, I carried the cost of that particular lesson in crystal ball gazing. Since then, sesamoiditis has fallen out of vogue and is referred to less often, particularly after an American study proved that the yearlings with “a touch of sessamoiditis” were MORE likely to succeed than those which were normal.
We had a similar experience with another colt who was considered to have stifle issues and was thought by some to be unlikely to remain sound. He was a Group winning two-year-old who became a successful stallion. We then had the one who had a marginal scope report which won one of the most prestigious two-year-old races. So I have tried to be circumspect about the various procedures used at sales and have tried to resist the current craze for the scoping of foals. The foal buyers have experiences of buying paralysed foals for big money and so need the reassurance that it won’t happen again, but the incidence of that happening should be very low. The accuracy of the scope grades among a population of foals varying from 6 to 9 months old is questionable, albeit one which is paralysed is not going to become normal subsequently.
To minimise the stress on the foals we employed one vet considered to have wide acceptability among the buying public to scope on our behalf and to allow us to use that report to reassure the buyers. It may not be good for the turnover of the veterinary practitioners if this becomes the “norm” but it surely eliminates the possibility of a truly wrong one being bought, which was the reason the procedure became common originally. I still need convincing that the grades awarded to foal throats, other than the very bad ones, has any useful predictive value as to their racing success.