Wednesday, 4 June 2014

The Battle of the Sexes - Is it Nowt but Wind?

Researchers at the University of Illinois reported this week that hurricanes with female names are more deadly than those with male names, confirming something that Kipling told us as early as 1911.

When the Himalayan peasant meets the he-bear in his pride,
He shouts to scare the monster, who will often turn aside.
But the she-bear thus accosted rends the peasant tooth and nail.
For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.
Up until 1979 all hurricanes were given female names as they were thought to be unpredictable (in the words of meteorologists, not my own). However, it seems that modern man has an altogether different view of feminine attitudes. Apparently our refusal to take girls’ names seriously results in a greater death toll when compared to hurricanes that are given boys’ names – it’s something to do with running for cover.
According to researchers, changing a hurricane’s name from Charley to the (altogether flouncier) Elouise could result in three times the number of casualties. Presumably, if the weather forecasters really want to save lives, they should be giving hurricanes monikers such as Beelzibub or Lucifer.
When it comes to horses, perhaps we should take note. The favourite for the Epsom Derby on Saturday is Australia – a name which is almost calculated to provoke every English sports fan to bet against him winning. Meanwhile, the favourite for the Oaks (the fillies’ version of the Epsom Classic) is called Marvellous – leaving little room for doubt about her credentials.
It should be noted that the prize money for the fillies’ race is just £523,000 compared to £1.25 million for the colts, despite the fact that Marvellous is rated just 3lbs inferior to Australia on official ratings. Not only that, but the Oaks has the look of a competitive race, while the Derby could well prove to be a damp squib.
While Marvellous faces opposition from horses named Momentous, Dazzling and Amazing Maria, the three-year old colts are largely uninspiring.
The best named three-year-old colt of the year, The Grey Gatsby, won’t even be at Epsom having snaffled the French Derby last weekend. In his absence it will be left to two other literary figures to throw down the gauntlet: Arod (named after one of Tolkein’s equine characters from Lord of the Rings) and Geoffrey Chaucer (the fourteenth century poet, but also a colt trained by AP O’Brien).
Known to most people as the author of the Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer also penned a poem entitled The Legend of Good Women – apparently written after receiving a reprimand from the God of love for depicting women in a poor light. Let that be a lesson to all of us – let’s not under-estimate the fillies.
Let’s not under-estimate the geldings either: this week’s selection is Ballybough Gorta in the feature steeplechase of the weekend, The Perth Gold Cup on Sunday.

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