Players can participate in chocobo racing via the Manderville Gold Saucer using specially trained race chocobos (chocobo companions are not eligible). From improving their abilities through rigorous training to breeding retired chocobos for their traits, you can raise the champion chocobo you’ve always wanted.
After completing It Could Happen to You (to gain access to the Gold Saucer), visit the Chocobo Square and obtain the quest So You Want to Be a Jockey, during which you will acquire a a fledgling race chocobo from Camp Bentbranch. Completing this will flag the quest, So You Think You Can Ride This Chocobo, which will return you to the Gold Saucer and enable you to compete in races.
A chocobo's rank indicates accumulated Experience Points (EXP), similar to levels. The current rank cap is 50, however a chocobo need only be Rank 40 to retire it for covering (breeding). Through chocobo covering, the quality of a bloodline's pedigree is increased as generations progress, allowing for better performance and access to higher rewards from more challenging races. There are currently 9 Pedigree Levels, with each requiring more experience points per rank.
A chocobo's capabilities are determined by its attributes, whose caps are determined by its Pedigree Level and attribute star ratings. Each time a chocobo's rank increases, one attribute will be randomly selected and increased by 1% of its capped value. It's possible for the same attribute to be selected more than once, resulting in other attributes remaining untouched. To counterbalance this randomized growth to a degree, each rank-up also entitles the chocobo to receive one training session, which manually raises a manually targeted attribute. (see: Training)
Pedigree Level 1 adds 20 points to the cap, with each level after that adding 40. Additionally, each of the four stars in an attributes Star Rating adds another 40 points to the cap. For example, a starter chocobo is Pedigree Level 1 with 2 stars in each attribute, resulting in a 100 point attribute cap (20 + 40 + 40). You can speed up the calculations by using this formula:
- (40 × (Pedigree Level + Star Rating)) − 20
The effects of the five attributes are as follows:
|The fastest a chocobo can go under normal conditions; All other things considered equal, a chocobo with the absolute base Maximum Speed cap of 500 is thought to travel 50% faster than one with 0. However, putting too much focus Maximum Speed while putting too little on Stamina and Endurance will negate its benefits (see those sections for more information).|
|How fast a chocobo advances towards Maximum Speed while the accelerate (forward) button is held; Lower Acceleration and higher Maximum Speed means that top speed will be high, but take a long time to achieve, and vice versa. Better Acceleration ratios allow you to get a head start at the beginning of a race (assuming you don't have the ability, Head Start), and helps you regain your momentum if hit by a hindrance such as Graviball or a field obstacle.|
|How fast your chocobo can run before becoming "Lathered"; Each chocobo has a specific speed threshold that, when crossed, causes stamina to drain faster (the effect may be cumulative, increasing the drain farther over the threshold). If Maximum Speed is high but Endurance is low, you risk spending your stamina inefficiently, or running out of it entirely.|
|Increases the size of a chocobo's stamina pool; During a race, stamina is expressed as a percentage, but the actual size of the pool may vary. Unless stamina efficiency is compromised (by having a poor Maximum Speed to Endurance ratio), this larger pool enables a chocobo to maintain higher speeds for longer periods of time. Abilities that deal percentage-based damage to your stamina pool will continue to do so, however.|
|Improves a chocobo's resistance to "rough terrain"; Some parts of tracks contain what is colloquially known as "rough terrain" – abrupt changes in slope, patches of water, or muddy track, for example. While traversing these sections of a course, a chocobo's speed and stamina efficiency are reduced. Chocobos with low cunning, especially, need to conserve stamina in such areas.|
At Rank 10, a chocobo will learn a random ability. It can be removed using a Lethe Water, causing another random ability to be chosen upon the next rank-up (or it can be immediately replaced with a specific ability purchased from the Gold Saucer).
A generalized measure of a chocobo's ability, its Rating determines in which classes it may race. This ensures that each chocobo has a fair chance to win in its own bracket, while disqualifying it from brackets it could too easily dominate. It also ensures that those able to compete at higher levels receive greater amounts of experience and MGP. This rating is calculated by averaging the five attributes, minus any bonuses gained from training. Chocobos within a given bracket that have been trained therefore have a slight advantage.
Training Capacity is the number of times a chocobo can currently receive specialized training that raises a targeted attribute by a specific amount. Activated from the Race Chocobo Trainer, training will consume one available session as well as one graded race feed. Each attribute has its own type of feed, and each feed has three grades that raise that attribute by 1%, 2%, or 3% of its current cap, respectively. As such, these gains are more pronounced at higher pedigrees. One training session is consumed regardless of what grade of feed is used. Note that training benefits only the chocobo that receives it; gains are not hereditary and give no bonuses during breeding.
Every chocobo has a preference for either Fair, Neutral, or Foul weather. The environmental conditions during a race will thus influence your chocobo's performance to a degree. (See: Weather)
Rather than having a free range of movement, each track is made of lanes on rails. A single movement to the left or right changes the lane you are racing in. All positional changes and calculations are done server-side, resulting in a delayed - but more accurate - read of your position. It may feel a bit off at first, but you should adjust to it easily over a few races.
Reading the UI
A chocobo's total stamina is displayed as a percentage, continuously depleting as the race progresses. It is inconstant flux, and there is a bit of a delay between your actual stamina and the way the bar reads; it is thus it is difficult to read any instantaneous changes accurately. For example, stamina will continue to deplete throughout the use of an ability that restores it, and it may appear as though it didn't recover as much as advertised. This is also true with abilities that decrease stamina; while the effect is instantaneous, the bar will show a rapid decline that seems to last longer than the effect in question. While the bar above your chocobo's head does not have a percentage value attached to it, it more accurately represents changes at a glance.