Sibling rivalry: rare event as twins are set to debut in the same race
It is not unusual for half-brothers and/or sisters to race each other, occasionally you even see full siblings line up in opposition. But twins? Well that is rare.
About ten per cent of thoroughbred pregnancies result in twins, but the chances of both surviving through to birth is minuscule.
Which makes Mr Ping and Mr Pong, who make their racecourse debut in the same race at Charles Town, West Virginia on Friday (1.21am BST, Saturday), horses who have already defied lengthy odds before even making it to the track.
The colts were born at Amanda Morro’s Avonwood Farm in Charles Town, for owner-breeder John Casey, and while twins can often be inseparable these two were so close they showed up as one horse on initial ultrasounds.
"The mare [Washingtonian] carried them and showed no sign of twins, other than she was very big, but she was always big, so we didn't think anything of it," said trainer Larry Curtis, quoted by Daily Racing Form.
Taking up the story, Morro revealed that Mr Ping was born first and weighed 25lb, compared to the 70lb Mr Pong, who arrived minutes later.
She said: "Normally, one is bigger than the other, and the smaller twin does not usually survive. Most of the time they are stillborn. In this situation he looked very underdeveloped. We knew it was going to be a lot of care.
"I slept in the stall for about two weeks. We had to bottle feed for about ten days. Once the baby was tall enough to reach the mare's udder, we took turns helping him nurse, and he got stronger as days went on.
"I think our Facebook page has had about 34,000 views. We're having some shirts made up, and we're having the farm crew go to support them. Hopefully they'll run well."
Here they are exercising at Middleburg pic.twitter.com/o3bhT1xb7f— Aoife Brazil (@bbrazila) April 4, 2018
On the subject of running well, Curtis added of the pair, who are by Denis Of Cork: "Mr Pong's a little bit farther along and fitter than the other one, and he's shown a little bit more talent. He's not as good a mover, but the smaller one breaks a little sharper.
“Mr Pong has a real good disposition and he'll make someone a lovely riding horse one day. The other one will be a good polo pony one day when he gets through racing, but hopefully we can have some fun with them and win a couple races. We'll make sure when the time comes that they have good homes."
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