Sunday, June 27, 2010

Man v horse update

Regular readers will recall a previous post which looked at the Man v. Horse challenge which is set to take place at Kempton Park racecourse on Wednesday evening June 30th; Jamie Baulch takes on Brendan Powell's eight-year-old entire Peopleton Brook. This one has caught my imagination - most people I've talked to seem to think the horse will win easily but on the times shown below, at his peak, Baulch would have won this challenge.

I have done some more research and am particularly grateful to library staff at Warwickshire College, Moreton Morrell who have helped with this work.

My understanding is the race has been framed as follows:

Jamie Baulch will race over the final 100 metres of Kempton's all-weather track and will use starting blocks;
Peopleton Brook has a 20 metre handicap (so races over 120 metres) and will break from a starting stall;
Peopleton Brook will have the advantage of the inside running rail.

At racing speed an average thoroughbred covers 100 metres in roughly six seconds. Winning times for recent five furlong (1000m) races at Kempton are a fraction over 60 seconds. The question is - how long does it take a thoroughbred to reach racing speed from a standing start?

A quick summary of findings...

In studies intact male thoroughbreds were 0.7% faster than females and neutered males (Etin , Pauline Do racehorses and greyhound dogs exhibit a gender difference in running speed?, Equine and Comparative Exercise Physiology, Vol 4 Issue 3-4, November 2007, pp 135-140).

The mean speed for thoroughbreds racing through the beginning section of 402 metre races has been recorded as 36.1 km/h (+/- 1.5). At this speed the horse will cover 100 metres in 9.97 seconds, 120 metres in 11.96 seconds (Nielsen, B.D. and Turner, K.K. Racing speeds of quarter horses, thoroughbreds and Arabians, Equine Veterinary Journal Supplement 2006, August (36), pp 128-132.

Jamie Baulch's personal best over 100 metres is 10.51 seconds, achieved in 1995. Baulch, now 37, retired from athletics five years ago and manages Welsh rugby star Shane Williams. He has been training for some months but, of course, we don't know what times he has been clocking. I sent a tweet to the athlete asking that very question but he hasn't replied...

In a nutshell:

Peopleton Brook
Fit - run three times this month already, finishing fourth at Newbury last Tuesday;
Professional jockey on board but not regular rider;
Likely to carry around eight stones five?
Has advantage of inside running rail;
In studies intact males run 0.7% faster than neutered males / females;
Often receives comment 'held up' in his races -will he break quickly enough?
Not used to racing in this manner;
The start will be critical - lack of other horses could lead to slower start.

Jamie Baulch
Would have won this challenge at his best;
Now 37, retired from athletics five years ago and past his prime;
Has been in training but fitness levels unknown;
Better initial rate of acceleration, aided by starting blocks;
More likely to be affected by track conditions.

Much will depend on Baulch's fitness but it could be a lot closer than many think.


GeeDee said...

Quick added note - times from the British Masters Athletic Federation (BMAF) meeting at Birmingham July 2009 (for veterans).

100 metres M(ale) 35-39 bracket:

Final A winner 11.42 (w/s -3.1)
Final B winner 11.77 (w/s -3.3)

Mellie said...

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GeeDee said...

Job done, Mellie, great site!

GeeDee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
GeeDee said...

The horse came out on top in the Man v. Horse challenge, winning by 0.5 seconds.

The Mail reported the result & story but I haven't come across other coverage. Nothing seen in the racing press so far (11.00 am)...

GeeDee said...

A couple of weeks later and I've just seen a report from Racing For Change which states the horse recorded a time of 10.06 secs to cover the 120 metres.

Assuming that's an accurate recording of the time, I need to go away and do much better with the maths next time...

Mark: C minus miunus; must try harder.