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Beef Or Salmon & The Listener
Beef or Salmon in action in Leopardstown in January 2007 winning his third Irish Hennessy Gold Cup with The Listener in close persuit
Mounted and Titled
See biography below
300mm x 200mm or 12 inches x 8 inches
Precision cut double mount
High quality backing card
Beef or Salmon
Few National Hunt horses have both captivated and frustrated the racing public to the extent that the Michael Hourigan trained Beef Or Salmon has done in the last five or so years. His abundant class combined with his shortcomings in the jumping department have led to him becoming something of a loveable enigma. Whether one is a fan of the horse or not, his racing career has illuminated the National Hunt scene in recent seasons, which is all the more remarkable considering his relatively modest beginnings.
Like so many stars of the National Hunt arena, Beef Or Salmon began his racing life in the point-to-point field. He fell on his first start in Dungarvan in January 2001 but made no mistake on his second start in Clonmel three weeks later, winning by no less than a distance in a race where only three of the 16 runner field completed. Moving to hurdling he only contested five such races in his novice year, his only win coming in a Gowran Park conditions race. He later cruised to three more comfortable successes in the Hilly Way Chase, the Ericsson Chase and the Hennessy Gold Cup, putting the pick of Irelands staying chasers to the sword with relative ease under his new pilot, Timmy Murphy.
Having beaten the best at this side of the Irish Sea, the inevitable question arose as to whether Beef Or Salmon should run in the 2003 Cheltenham Gold Cup as opposed to one of the novice chases at the same meeting. He fell heavily at just the third obstacle, allowing Best Mate to easily win his second Gold Cup. This fall resulted in him damaging his back, an injury that would raise its ugly head on numerous occasions in the coming years.
Following a good start to 2003/04 all roads led to Leopardstown and the Ericsson Chase where the dual Gold Cup winner, Best Mate, stood directly in Beef Or Salmon's path. It was one of the most keenly anticipated equine clashes that had taken place on Irish soil in many years, but it proved to be very much an anti-climax. Beef Or Salmon trailed in a well beaten third behind the impressive Best Mate and was subsequently found to be a sick horse.
However the public’s faith in him was further enhanced when he positively bolted up in the Irish Heineken Gold Cup, easily reversing Gold Cup form with Harbour Pilot. Beef Or Salmons ever burgeoning fan base looked eagerly ahead to the 2004/2005 season which they confidently claimed would be ‘The Year of the Beef’. In the 2004 in his finest hour Beef or Salmon finally lowered the colours of Best Mate in a classic race. He jumped with a fluency that he had rarely bettered at any stage of his career and having gone to the front three out, he stretched clear in deeply impressive fashion from the floundering Best Mate.
However, the good times were short-lived as he proved to be a deeply disappointing favourite in the Hennessy Gold Cup where he proved to be no match for Rule Supreme and subsequently scoped poorly. He recovered sufficiently to make his third attempt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup but he was never travelling at any stage and was pulled up before two out. It was a bitterly disappointing effort and it proved to be his final start of the season.
At the beginning of the 2005/2006 season, Beef Or Salmon once again had it all to prove. He began his campaign in the Irish Cesarewitch where he finished in mid-division. Following that satisfactory effort, Michael Hourigan made the interesting decision to bring Beef Or Salmon over to Haydock for the inaugural running of the Betfair Chase. On that occasion he surpassed most people’s expectations of him in finishing second to Kingscliff, beaten only 1¼l. That performance proved that he was capable of showing his true form outside of Ireland and rejuvenated many peoples opinion of him. It was not long before he delivered on the promise of that run and two impressive wins over War Of Attrition in the Lexus Chase and Hedgehunter in the Hennessy Gold Cup followed.
With a number of the main contenders for the 2006 Cheltenham Gold Cup falling by the wayside, many people began to feel that this had to be Beef Or Salmon’s year. Indeed, he was backed into favouritism on the day of what was his fourth bid for Gold Cup glory. However, once again he patently failed to show his true form, finishing a well beaten 11th and seemingly once and for all confirming that Cheltenham is simply not his track. An abortive trip to Aintree where he unseated Paul Carberry at the fifth fence followed his Cheltenham disappointment and a below par effort in a conditions hurdle at the Fairyhouse Festival led many people to believe that his best days were now behind him. However, his trainer persevered with him and he lined up for the Guinness Gold Cup at the Punchestown Festival. On that occasion he proved no match for War Of Attrition but it was pleasing effort nevertheless considering his lacklustre efforts earlier in the month.
At the beginning of the 2006/2007 season, fans of Beef Or Salmon were seemingly in short supply. The vast majority of people seemed content to concede that his best days were behind him and he would prove to be no match for the likes of War Of Attrition this season. In yet another change of policy regarding what form his seasonal reappearance would take, late in October Beef Or Salmon ran in a conditions hurdle over what was very much an inadequate two miles in Fairyhouse. He ran significantly better than most expected in finishing second to Pedrobob, but he was thought to be a forlorn hope in the James Nicholson Champion Chase a fortnight later where he would meet the reigning Gold Cup champion, War Of Attrition. Mouse Morris’s charge had made a hugely impressive seasonal debut in Punchestown the previous month and was sent off at 4/7 to account for Beef Or Salmon in Down Royal.
However, the ‘old boy’ had another big effort left in his locker and in a display of tremendous grit and determination, he stayed on strongly under pressure in the final half mile to head War Of Attrition with just 100 yards to go and prevail by a neck for a memorable victory under Andrew McNamara. After finishing a well beaten second to the young tyro Kauto Star in the Befair Chase at Haydock Park, he then chased home English raider The Listener in the 2006 Lexus Chase. Sweet revenge was to be gained six weeks later when, from a seemingly hopeless position turning into the straight, he came with a late surge to collar The Listener in the shadow of the Leopardstown post and record a memorable tenth Grade 1 success in the 2007 Hennessy Gold Cup, provoking justifiably loud celebrations in the parade ring. However, a fifth consecutive attempt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup again resulted in disappointment as he faded in the last mile to finish 13th behind Kauto Star having disputed the lead for over half the journey. In fairness, to the horse, he has never managed to get the soft ground he requires at the Cheltenham Festival and trainer Michael Hourigan has intimated that a tilt at the 2008 Aintree Grand National could well be on his agenda.