In an attempt to give their horses an edge on the track, trainers have been hiring feng shui consultants to improve their charge's "chi" - the "cosmic energy" that is believed to attract wealth and good fortune.
Using crystals to test for "negative geopathic energy", the feng shui "experts" have been instructing trainers how to improve horses' health and speed. The thoroughbreds have even had their horoscopes read.
Feng shui, which has its origins in the East, has recently caught on as a way of supposedly improving the atmosphere in houses and offices. But until now it has not been applied to animals. Feng shui "experts" claim that racehorses, because they are highly strung and sensitive, will benefit hugely from the supposed subtle changes to the energy around them.
Last week two consultants from Feng Shui Living, a London-based group which has reorganised several City dealing rooms, were brought in by the trainer Alan Blackmore to "harmonise the energy" in his yard at Little Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire.
The trainer, who has had a string of national hunt winners, brought in the consultants initially to help a winning horse recover from damage to its tendon. But he has now had his entire stable block transformed.
"I tend to use orthodox training methods such as giving them plenty of exercise and I hadn't thought of using feng shui before," he said. "But I am open to anything that will be beneficial to my horses."
Waving crystals over the horses' noses and using a compass to check the stable's bearings, the feng shui consultants found that although the block's energy was "generally harmonious", it was being disrupted by a large telephone pole. They advised the trainer to move it or disguise it with a big shrub.
The "experts" also advised him that valuable "chi" was escaping past the horses' stables and told him to shut the stable doors to conserve it. They also told him to face horses in the direction most suited to their birth signs and to plant eucalyptus trees to shield the horses from the "oppressive influence" of a large house overlooking the stables. It was sending out harmful "shachi" energy which would, they claimed, have a negative impact on the horses.
The animals' horoscopes "revealed" them to be very different characters who needed individual attention in their training regime. Highland Flame, a successful chestnut gelding, was found to be an Earth Tiger sign that "really likes to express itself and be noticed".
Traditional racing experts were sceptical that feng shui was the answer to beating other horses on the track. "This is a very bizarre concept," said Dominic Sancto of Furlong Equestrian Services. "But if Alan Blackmore suddenly rises up through the training ranks, feng shui could become an everyday part of stable management."Reuse content