Psychoanalysis by Irish scientist points to Essex

In Ireland hype springs eternal at Cheltenham Festival time but the plaintive longing for an Irish-trained Gold Cup winner may crumble when confronted with the reality of hard science. That's the assertion made by Jack Murphy, one of Ireland's leading equine scientists based at the University of Limerick.

Appraising the main Irish contender, Beef Or Salmon, Murphy says that Michael Hourigan's stable star is "just not anatomically and conformationally perfect". With a surgeon's eye and a proselytiser's passion, the Wexford-born scientist relates how "the horse has an uneven pair of hind legs with a curb or a weakness of his plantar ligament on one hock, similar to flat-footedness in a human. Under maximum pressure in the Gold Cup it is possible this defect will be magnified."

A sceptic might retort that Beef Or Salmon has won six Grade One contests since his appearance on the chasing radar in 2002. "Correct", states Murphy, "but those were lesser races and his conformational imperfection wasn't a factor. In the Gold Cup, with huge expectation and a large number of horses around him, Beef Or Salmon will have to jump quickly under colossal pressure and the physical and psychological exertion will test him ruthlessly. At this level a horse's mental strength is paramount."

The mental fortitude of the Irish punting fraternity will be deflated should a much-anticipated "greenwash" fail to materialise in today's Champion Hurdle. Murphy, however, is sanguine about Irish prospects.

Nevertheless he contends that former Flat racer Essex could well be a Champion Hurdle winner-in-waiting. The scientist noted that the classically-bred five-year-old was "a weaver and a wind-sucker, both of which are undesirable repetitive behaviours and often exacerbated by stress. These stereotypic behaviours could have been caused by social isolation from other horses when the potentially ultra-valuable colt was stabled at Newmarket."

Essex's racing ability has been transformed since he was gelded, but Murphy also attributes the improvement to current trainer Michael O'Brien's policy of keeping company boxes. "He's a much happier horse now and if Cheltenham doesn't overwhelm him psychologically then physically he'll win the Champion."

Murphy's assertion that Moscow Flyer has a quirk that must be eradicated if he is to reclaim his Two-Mile Champion Chase crown will send a tremor throughout Ireland. "In the last two years Moscow Flyer has either made a mistake when confronted with the last ditch at the top of the hill or unseated Barry Geraghty at the fence. The memory of these less-than-perfect leaps will be certainly embedded in the horse's neural archives." Nevertheless, Murphy believes that if this mental idiosyncrasy is eliminated then Moscow Flyer is unbeatable. And a nation can breathe again.

News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge
booksChristmas comes early for wizard fans
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites those Star Wars rumours
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
people

Thought you'd seen it all after the Jeremy Paxman interview?

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch
tv

Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
filmsOculus Rift offers breathtakingly realistic simulation of zero gravity
News
news
News
peopleCampaign 'to help protect young people across the world'
Life and Style
tech

News
people'When I see people who look totally different, it brings me back to that time in my life'
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'
film

"History is violent," says the US Army tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier

News
i100
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Compensation and Benefits Manager - Brentwood - Circa £60,000

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant We are curr...

English Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: English Teachers with QTS nee...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker