Phar Lap's Engine

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This topic contains 11 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by Kentucky Spring Kentucky Spring 2 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #1263261
    steeplechasing
    steeplechasing
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    Many will have heard of Phar Lap. For those who haven’t, here’s a summary from Wikipedia:

    Phar Lap (4 October 1926 – 5 April 1932) was a champion Thoroughbred racehorse whose achievements captured the public’s imagination during the early years of the Great Depression. Foaled in New Zealand,[3] he was trained and raced in Australia by Harry Telford.[4] Phar Lap dominated Australian racing during a distinguished career, winning a Melbourne Cup, two Cox Plates, an AJC Derby, and 19 other weight for age races.[5][6] He then won the Agua Caliente Handicap in Tijuana, Mexico, in track-record time in his final race.[7] After a sudden and mysterious illness, Phar Lap died in 1932. At the time, he was the third highest stakes-winner in the world

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    We talk often about a horse’s engine, without having a suitable definition of the engine. Given the job the heart does, and for lack of anything more tangible, I’ll settle on the heart for the Engine. I read that Arkle had a bigger than usual heart. Wasn’t Sprinter Sacre’s heart also unusually large when they checked him for that fibrillation problem?

    In the McIlvanney book I’m reading he mentioned that Phar Lap’s heart weighed 14 lbs, twice the size of the normal equine heart. I thought that this fact nicely concluded the argument on engines but I read this on Wikipedia:

    However, the author and film maker Peter Luck is convinced the heart is a fake. In Luck’s 1979 television series This Fabulous Century, the daughter of Dr Walker Neilson, the government veterinarian who performed the first post-mortem on Phar Lap, says her father told her the heart was necessarily cut to pieces during the autopsy, and the heart on display is that of a draught horse.

    Still, it makes sense, to me, at least, that the heart is the key component of the ‘engine’. Heart size measurement – now there’s an edge.

    Never argue with a fool. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience, then onlookers might not be able to tell the difference. https://lazybet.com/

    #1263300
    Kentucky Spring
    Kentucky Spring
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    Exactly, Steeplechasing, the advantage lyes in the large-heart-X-chromosone, but large hindquarters normally qualify for having a large engine as well. Don’t they?
    More about the topic, search “The X Factor: What It Is & How To Find It”
    I’ve read a lot about the large X as well as translate a couple of articles to Danish 🙂

    Best Wishes
    Silk

    #1263305
    Kentucky Spring
    Kentucky Spring
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    Exactly, Steeplechasing, the advantage lyes in the large-heart-X-chromosone, but large hindquarters normally qualify for having a large engine as well. Don’t they?
    More about the topic, search “The X Factor: What It Is & How To Find It”
    I’ve read a lot about the large X as well as translate a couple of articles to Danish :-)

    Sorry, do not use the search frase x factor, it is all about singing…
    but here is a couple of good links
    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/jun/22/horse-breeding-genetics-thoroughbreds-racing-dna
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/triple-crown-bound-horse-breeders-start-to-look-to-genetics/
    And this one, where the X-large heart theory is not supported as a must have http://www.performancegenetics.com/the-selection-process

    Best Wishes
    Silk

    #1263309
    steeplechasing
    steeplechasing
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    Thanks, KS. I’ll take a look at these

    Never argue with a fool. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience, then onlookers might not be able to tell the difference. https://lazybet.com/

    #1263333
    Kentucky Spring
    Kentucky Spring
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    #1263339
    steeplechasing
    steeplechasing
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    Thanks, KS. Fascinating reading and the fact that it adds solid evidence to something that was little more than a theory on my part, is welcome.

    I wonder how Frankel will fare or if his heart size has been measured?

    To learn that Secretariat had a heart weight (22lbs) almost 3 times that of the normal thoroughbred is astonishing as a one-off ‘factoid’ in itself, but it also tells us why he was capable of such phenomenal performances.

    Never argue with a fool. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience, then onlookers might not be able to tell the difference. https://lazybet.com/

    #1263345
    stevecaution
    stevecaution
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    Not sure about Phar Lap but I did hear Jim McGrath on Channel 4 describing John Gosden’s Foundation as having a heart “the size of a pea”.

    Whether that was garden or marrowfat we were not informed.

    Thanks for the good crack. Time for me to move on. Be lucky.

    #1263475
    Kentucky Spring
    Kentucky Spring
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    Youre welcome Steeplechasing, I believe that is was Secretariats ability to pump so much oxygen filled blood around, that made it possible for him to run the last 6 furlongs faster than record times for that distance in the Belmont Stakes over 12 furlongs in 2:24:00. A record that still stands today.
    Watch his Belmont again, it is unbelievable!
    https://youtu.be/vfCMtaNiMDM?t=47s

    Best Wishes
    Silk

    #1263518
    steeplechasing
    steeplechasing
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    A riveting performance no matter how often you watch it. To see Sham fade so badly so far out, going backwards while Secretariat galloped unrelentingly on, offers some idea of the power he was putting out that day. From what I can find, Sham was also a high class animal; indeed, he had beaten Secretariat in a previous race.

    Coincidentally, Sham also had a huge heart – weighed at 18lbs after his autopsy.

    Never argue with a fool. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience, then onlookers might not be able to tell the difference. https://lazybet.com/

    #1263542
    Kentucky Spring
    Kentucky Spring
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    Yes Sham finished ahead of Secretariat in the Wood Memorial, but Sham didn’t win the race, he finished 2nd and Big Red 3rd (by jockey misjudgement imo)
    https://youtu.be/S_sGGeyvrhU

    Best Wishes
    Silk

    #1263549

    Titus Oates
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    The Scientific American link takes us back to the GG and the ‘speed gene’ thread of earlier in the summer. I think of ‘engine’ in terms of cardiovascular system, so a combination of lungs, heart and VO2 max and a body’s capacity to work. This runs across humans and equines – and some of the most advanced stuff on this is on the various cycling forums (think all the stuff on whether Froome could put out that kind of wattage day in day out in the TdF without ‘assistance’). With horses, it’s also important to factor in that the power comes from the back end (i.e. the hind quarters), so a horse that is ‘weak behind’ is never going to put out as much power. Stride length is also important. When you look at a horse like Frankel what you see is a massive stride length (a bit like Bolt and Farah – they take 1 stride for everyone else’s 2!), a great big back end on him and – I would bet – a great cardiovascular system, which I do think he is passing on. So, I’d say it’s the combination of all that that made him the racehorse that he was, rather than heart alone.

    Interesting bit in that final link from KS on stayers and heart size – I do remember AOB talking about Yeats as having a massive heart on him.

    #1263556
    Kentucky Spring
    Kentucky Spring
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    Sorry about the first links, something went amiss. It has been ten years since i studied the subject on the net and links had changed variously.
    a new link, from 2015 http://www.horseracingnation.com/blogs/pedigree_power/Kentucky_Derby_2015_The_X_Factor_123

    Best Wishes
    Silk

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