Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why was the racehorse Eclipse so good?

Date:
June 14, 2007
Source:
Royal Veterinary College
Summary:
Scientists are researching what made the undefeated 18th Century horse, Eclipse, such a great champion. The genetics research is giving insights into the origins of the world's thoroughbred racing stock, including the sensational 1867 Derby winner, Hermit.

Eclipse's skeleton is now on display at the Royal Veterinary College, near Hatfield.
Credit: Copyright Royal Veterinary College 2006

Scientists from the Royal Veterinary College and the University of Cambridge are researching what made the undefeated 18th Century horse, Eclipse, such a great champion. The genetics research is giving insights into the origins of the world's thoroughbred racing stock, including the sensational 1867 Derby winner, Hermit.

Eclipse was never beaten when he ran from 1769-1770 and was retired largely because of the lack of competition. Super stallion Eclipse's descendants include Kauto Star and Desert Orchid and almost all thoroughbred racehorses.

Scientists have succeeded in examining Hermit’s origins and in taking a sample of DNA from one of Eclipse's teeth as part of a project to unlock the 'lifecodes' of great thoroughbreds.

Professor Matthew Binns, an equine genetics expert from the RVC, who is part of the project, said: “Eclipse was probably the greatest racehorses in history. He won 18 races and usually by 10 or 20 furlongs. Flat races were much longer in those days. Genetics is playing an ever bigger role in equine science as researchers try to understand what horses more susceptible to disease or more likely to break down in training.”

Research already shows that today's racehorses can trace their line to a very small group of animals imported from the Near East and North Africa in the early 1700s.

The RVC's work is adding further detail to this story and it should also show up which genetic traits have come through the 30 or so generations since the foundation of the stock.

The RVC has also set its Structure and Motion workgroup on to Eclipse. Experts at the Royal Veterinary College combined what was known about the heroic horse from his paintings, CT scans of his skeleton and reports of his races and created computer models of the horse.

Using portraits of Eclipse and contemporary accounts of the horse running the researchers reconstructed one of its legs and have discovered that its legendary speed may have been due to its 'averageness'. In short, a great racehorse needs to be more than just quick footed - it must also be rather average.

The research involved analysing Eclipse's skeleton to develop models of horse movement. Using the models the research team built 'theoretical limbs' on a computer and tested answers to questions on not only why Eclipse was so fast but also why horses can remain balanced when each leg is off the ground for 80 per cent of the time during gallop and what limits a horse's maximum gallop speed.

Dr Alan Wilson, who led the study, said: "All the factors for speed were perfectly matched. A key ability for a fast horse is to be able to bring its legs forward quickly, which is difficult for large animals with long limbs. Eclipse was smaller than modern racehorses. Rather than being some freak of nature with incredible properties, he was actually just right in absolutely every way."

Eclipse's skeleton is now on display at the Royal Veterinary College, near Hatfield.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Royal Veterinary College. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Royal Veterinary College. "Why was the racehorse Eclipse so good?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 June 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070611134032.htm>.
Royal Veterinary College. (2007, June 14). Why was the racehorse Eclipse so good?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070611134032.htm
Royal Veterinary College. "Why was the racehorse Eclipse so good?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070611134032.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur on Monday when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) Drake University hosts 35th annual Beautiful Bulldog Contest. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) One Florida fisherman caught a 805-pound shark off the coast of Florida earlier this month. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Foods Are Getting Pricier

Breakfast Foods Are Getting Pricier

AP (Apr. 21, 2014) Breakfast is now being served with a side of sticker shock. The cost of morning staples like bacon, coffee and orange juice is on the rise because of global supply problems. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins