When the Nicky Henderson-trained Wenyerreadyfreddie triumphed in the Ascot Underwriting Chase on Saturday (3 November), eagle-eyed racing fans may have noticed his bridle looked a little unusual.
The seven-year-old chestnut gelding was, in fact, sporting a Micklem bridle — most commonly seen on competition horses and very rarely on the racecourse.
The Micklem is designed to avoid the sensitive areas on a horse’s head by fitting higher up on the nose where the bone is thicker and avoiding any inward pressure on the molar teeth.
Pressure on the poll is also minimised because the headpiece is a single strap that is wide and padded. The bit is attached to the nosepiece to reduce pressure on the tongue or mouth.
Whereas grackle or cross nosebands are often seen on jumping racehorses’ bridles, you are less likely to see a Micklem bridle being used.
“Wenyerreadyfreddie is particularly funny about his head and is very sensitive in the poll area,” explained Nicky, champion National Hunt trainer.
“We think he might have had a knock on the head at some point, because he is funny about things like loading into the horsebox too,” he added of the son of Beneficial, who joined the Lambourn yard in November 2016.
“He always carried his head high as well. I can’t remember who actually told me about the Micklem bridle, but we tried it out on him and it was very successful, so we kept him in it. Now he is ridden every day — both at home and in races — in a Micklem.
“His stable lass, Katie, rides him each day and she says it makes a huge difference to the way he goes.”
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The gelding has run eight times for Nicky, recording two wins and is rarely out of the placings.
So will we see other trainers following Nicky’s lead? Only time will tell…
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