6 Traits of a Winning Thoroughbred Horse

Are you a horse owner looking to make your very first thoroughbred purchase? Or perhaps you’re someone who enjoys making the occasional visit to the racetrack for a rousing round of betting with your mates, while also browsing the best horse racing tips for today. 

Whichever the case, you may be wondering if there is a tried-and-tested way to distinguish a winning thoroughbred horse from a lacklustre or even a mediocre one. The answer to that is yes, and it involves looking for specific traits that have been discovered to be quite common among highly-decorated racehorses. The following is a list of those traits.

A fine pedigree

One of the first traits to look for when choosing a winning thoroughbred horse is the quality of their pedigree. With that said, any prospective buyer needs to look at the history of both the sire and the dam, not just the former. While a handsome racing sire with a long string of victories and accolades will always be a significant factor when choosing whose offspring to buy, it’s also worth examining the dam’s breeding history as well. How many of her brood are bonafide stakes winners? Do any of them fail to even make it to the racetrack at all? By ensuring that the other half of the equation also has a favourable pedigree, you increase the chances of purchasing a top-quality horse.

Excellent bone structure

Another trait of a thoroughbred horse that’s favoured to win on the track is excellent bone structure. Having strong and healthy bones means that the horse is capable of withstanding the physical demands of the racetrack, as well as carry its own weight with confidence and grace.

To check for this, examine the horse from all angles. Is everything proportional? Larger horses may look strong and healthy, but if their leg bones seem to be too thin for their size, that’s a clear warning sign for you to stay away. Look at the front legs: do they extend down from the chest to the hoof in a straight line? If not, then there’s a risk that prolonged walking or running can result in extra pressure on their knee joints, which can be a serious problem over time. 

Be sure to also feel the horse’s legs with your hands to check for any hot spots, bumps, or splints. The first is especially important to look out for, as heat radiating from a horse’s leg means that it is currently suffering from an acute inflammatory reaction to an injury to the ligaments or tendons. This type of injury requires immediate medical attention and a long stall rest.

Prominent and well-defined muscle tone

A winning thoroughbred should have a lot of power and strength to compete with its rivals on the track, so look for well-defined musculature on the back legs, hindquarters, and shoulders. Forearm muscle definition, in particular, signifies that your potential purchase will be proficient at jumping. Again, make sure to look at the horse from all angles.

A gleaming, shiny coat

Yet another great sign of a thoroughbred that’s destined for great things is a gleaming, shiny coat. Just like how clear, supple skin is an indicator of good health for us, an attractive coat that glimmers under the light is a sign that the horse is robust and has been treated with care.

With that said, don’t base your final decision on looks alone, as dealers often prepare their horses for sale. It’s entirely possible the horse that keeps catching your eye with the sparkling coat may simply have been given some extra brushing for the occasion. It’s still a good sign, of course, but remember to check for the other indicators on this list for extra confidence in your choice.

Calm and well-natured demeanour

Carefully observe how the horse behaves. Is it well-natured and calm while still being sharply alert? If so, then you’ve got a thoroughbred that can keep its cool even during moments of high stress, such as on the racetrack. However, an ill-mannered horse that snaps at everything and continues to give their handler a hard time will make for an unreliable racehorse, as their constant arousal and irritable temper means that they’ll be wasting energy before the race has started.

Lively features

Finally, look at the horse’s features. Bright eyes, forward-pointing big ears, large nostrils, and a wide jaw are all great indicators of a healthy and happy thoroughbred that will be right at home on the racetrack or in your stable as a riding animal. 


Whether you’re an owner looking to make their next purchase or just someone who wants to become a more effective bettor on the racetrack, learning the traits of a winning thoroughbred can help significantly in getting the most out of your investment. Take to heart the traits listed above and you’ll have a much easier time picking out the horse that truly deserves your money and attention. 


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