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Ye Cannae Change The Laws O’ Physics… | Superfectablog v3.0

Racehorses in History

June: Fairy Chant
b. 1937
Why: A champion at 3 and 4, Fairy Chant won the Beldame twice. She was in the money for 26 of her 42 races.

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Ye Cannae Change The Laws O’ Physics…

…but paying attention to them can make raceshorses run faster. Indeed, the changes in jockeys’ riding styles since the early 20th century seem to account for modern speed to some extent, according to new research published in Science this week. (Of course, as a former Nature employee I hate to link to a Science article, but sometimes it’s inevitable).

The research was also featured on NPR (as well as the NY Times) and it was exciting to hear a mainstream news story that not only touched on horse racing, but the history of racing as well as physical science. In short, it ticked almost every one of my non-media-driven geek boxes (although it did include musical theatre – more on that in a moment).

The NPR story mentioned the way in which American jockey Tod Sloan revolutionized riding when he moved his tack to Britain in the late 1890s, although they left out the initial mockery his ‘monkey crouch’ brought about from his fellow jockeys. Also absent was Sloan’s everlasting contribution to American popular culture – George M. Cohan’s musical ‘Little Johnny Jones‘ (which produced both ‘Give My Regards To Broadway’ and ‘Yankee Doodle Boy’) was inspired by Tod Sloan. In Britain, he is perhaps best semi-remembered for the Cockney rhyming slang his name gave rise to – ‘on your tod‘ is an expression I certainly heard often enough when I lived in the less-than-salubrious environs of East Ham.

Sloan’s racing career ended in some disgrace over betting on his own mounts (although I expect that was pretty standard practice for his day, and the charges against him were later considered rather sketchy), but he went on to some success in Hollywood.

I’d add one final point before I leave you for the day – Nature did publish an article on the same topic – in 1946.

1 comment to Ye Cannae Change The Laws O’ Physics…

  • Holy Prepuce!

    "You think I'd marry an heiress and live off her money? What do you take me for? An Englishman?"

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