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距離適性は変化する

「以前は薄手の体形でしたが、成長するに連れて筋肉が付いてガッシリとした短距離向きの体に変わってきました」とは、アドマイヤマックスを管理する橋田満調教師の弁である。

アドマイヤマックスの戦歴を振り返ると、まず1600mの新馬戦を勝ち上がり、2戦目にして1800mの東京スポーツ杯2歳Sを快勝した。続いて2000mのラジオたんぱ杯2歳Sで惜敗した後、骨折が発覚して3歳の春を全休した。秋は2200mのセントライト記念で復帰し、3000mの菊花賞にも出走して2番人気に支持されたこともある。

3歳までの戦績だけを見れば中長距離馬の使われ方であるが、4歳になってからは1600mの安田記念を皮切りに、マイル以下の距離を使われ、6歳にして1200mの高松宮記念で念願のG1タイトルを手に入れた。

このように、成長するにつれアドマイヤマックス自身の距離適性が変化していることが分かる。短距離向きの筋肉が付いてきたことにより、持久力が必要とされる中長距離のレースには向かなくなってしまったのである。2、3歳時のアドマイヤマックスと古馬になってからのアドマイヤマックスでは、同じ馬でも違う馬なのである。

ここでは「成長」という表現をしているが、距離適性は「年齢」とともに変化すると言った方が正しいかもしれない。たとえば、年を重ねるごとにその馬の血統的な肉体面が強く出てくるので、長距離が得意になったり、反対に短距離の方がレースがしやくなったりする。また、気性面の成長により、長距離でも折り合いが付くようになったり、逆に我慢が利かなくなって短距離でしか力を出せなくなったりする。距離適性が変化するのは、成長のみによってだけではない。

逆に言うと、若馬の時点で、その馬の距離適性を決め付けてしまうのは危険であるということになる。短距離向きの血統の馬でも、馬体が緩い(成長しきっていない)ために、距離をこなせたりすることも少なくない。スタミナはあるけれども、気性が若くて折り合いが付かず、長距離のレースでは凡走してしまうこともあるだろう。

アドマイヤマックスは年齢を重ね、短距離馬としての成長を遂げた。高松宮記念での激走を見るにつけ、短距離馬というよりはむしろスプリンターとしての資質が強くなっていることが分かる。小回りのスプリント戦であれだけの走りをした馬にとって、府中のマイル戦は適性距離から外れるのではないだろうか。ダービーを制覇して肩の荷が下りたであろう武豊騎手の手綱を持ってしても、スプリンターであるアドマイヤマックスを勝利に導くのは至難の業であろう。

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