It's Full Marx for Masood! ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS

Daily Mail (London), April 5, 2019 | Go to article overview

It's Full Marx for Masood! ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS


Byline: Compiled by Charies Legge

QUESTION Who was cricket commentator John Arlott talking about when he said a certain bowler's run-up reminded him of 'Groucho Marx chasing a waitress'? TEST Match Special's John Arlott was for many years the voice of cricket. With his poetic phraseology, he had a wonderful gift for evoking cricketing moments.

His description of Groucho Marx chasing a pretty waitress was a reference to the bowling action of Asif Masood, who played 16 Test matches for Pakistan between 1969 and 1977, taking 38 wickets with a best performance of 5 for 111 against England at Edgbaston in Birmingham in 1971.

Masood was a right-arm medium fast bowler whose unusual run-up to the wicket started by taking a backward step before travelling forward with a loping action to bowl.

Stephen Pryme, Stockport.

Do racehorses QUESTION understand they are supposed to finish the race in front of the rest of the field? THIS is the almost mythical belief in the will to win.

Racehorse owners breeding their mares to stallions who have won their stud careers through outstanding performance on the track hope the resulting offspring capture more than just the horse's physical conformation. They want them to inherit some of their behavioural characteristics as well.

To complicate matters, many great racehorses - such as Thirties dual classic winner Hyperion, champion steeplechaser Arkle, National Hunt winner Flyingbolt and Seabiscuit, the top moneywinner of the Thirties - were criticised for their physical imperfections.

Seabiscuit, who inspired a 2003 film of the same name, was an undersized, crooked-legged late developer who went on to become an unlikely champion and a symbol of hope to many Americans during the gloom of the Great Depression.

Whether there is an inherent will to win, and where it comes from, remains a matter of debate.

It is clear horses have to compete with other members of the herd to survive or reproduce.

Horses compete for access to preferred feeding and watering places, social companions and social status.

Consider a stallion fighting over a harem: factors such as physical strength, size and fighting skills are important, but determination is probably also a factor.

Horses develop these skills when young, so trainers encourage horseplay and galloping for fun to foster this sense of dominance.

There are other reasons why there may be a will to win. On an evolutionary level, horses are a prey species.

Their greatest protection from predation is being part of a large group. This is why horses that have unseated their riders are inclined to stay the course. The swishing of a jockey's stick in their peripheral vision may also be a factor.

Most trainers argue there is a will to win and recognise such characteristics in their horses.

A team from the Institute for Equine Genomics at Binghamton University, State University of New York, are sequencing Seabiscuit's genome.

They are focusing on linked genes that control temperament traits such as aggression, curiosity and trainability.

They are attempting to determine if Seabiscuit had variants in these behavioural genes that gave him the incredible desire to win despite his less than ideal physical attributes.

Zana Hallam, Windsor.

QUESTION Hypatia has been described as the greatest mathematician of her time. …

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