Beef or Salmon Leaves Behind a Legacy
Many tears flowed from the eyes of loyal fans on Wednesday, 23 April 2008. Emotions were running extremely high as Beef or Salmon walked into the starting gates for the very last time at Punchtown. After his appearance in last month’s Irish National, it was decided that the time had come to let Beef or Salmon retire from racing and enjoy the rest of his life in the love and care of his owner’s grandson. All that trainer Michael Hourigan was hoping for on Wednesday was the safe return of one of his most prized horses.
Owner, Joe Craig, has enjoyed a successful run with Beef or Salmon, with the magnificent horse earning him £983,636 off his seventeen wins out of forty six starts. And more impressively, ten of those victories were at top Grade One level, placing him third on the Grade Once Honors List, behind Istabrag with 14, Moscow Flyer with 13 and ahead of Brave Inca and Florida Pearl with nine grade one wins, Kauto Star with eight and Baracouda, Flagship Uberalles and Native Upmanship each with seven.
In May of 2001, Beef or Salmon burst onto the racing scene in his entire splendor. He never managed to secure a win in Britain, clearly proving that he was more comfortable racing in Ireland and after his fall at the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2003 as a novice, he has never been able to work past his fear of the course to bring a Gold Cup Victory home. But he excelled in other Grade One racing events, and it is truly rare for a horse to retain his performance level for as long as he has. But not being able to win the Cheltenham Cup has never dampened the pride that Hourigan feels for Beef or Salmon, which is a feeling that is shared by thousands of spectators and followers of this marvelous horse.
As in 2004, when Beef or Salmon and Timmy Murphy teamed up to win at Punchtown, the jockey never forgot his debt to the veteran horse, and rode him with honor for his final retiring race. Even though the pair finished in sixth place, screams of encouragement could be heard throughout the race and when Beef or Salmon graced the crowds with a lap of honor, the praise and cheer for him was deafening. And while Beef or Salmon shared his final lap with another retiring great, Hedgehunter, Murphy smiled as if he had just won the Gold Cup, while Hourigan silently stood fighting back emotion, seeing his star in action one last time.