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Article 05_009_1
13th July, 2005
"Racing Ahead" - July 2005: "Weighing up a maiden"

This article was the third of a series of 4 published in the monthly racing and sports magazine - "Racing Ahead" - between June and September 2005.  The article was illustrated with these Paddock Pictures.


The previous articles in this series have used pictures from past seasons to illustrate the link between horse's physical appearance and ability. This month covers a group of current 2yos to apply the same approach to try to predict how they will develop.

The six pictures illustrate runners in the 8:05 maiden race at Windsor on July 18th. A hot evening and most of the horses were sweating freely and generally not looking at their best.

Before reading on with the 'story' of the race take a little time to look at the pictures and try to match them with the descriptions. The field featured an above average number of relatively expensive and well bred 2yos and two with solid previous form.

The strongly touted newcomer was Advanced (R Charlton) and all the reports were that he was useful. He is shown in picture (B) and he did stand out as the best type in the field. Above average size, well muscled with a good length for his set-up and the best quality individual. He was strongly supported and won quite comfortably from a good draw.

He is clearly above average but  how good? If he ran in the Gimcrack next time out against proven useful runners how might he fare? On overall looks and performance he seemed a little short of this class and more likely to rate in the 90-99 range. However, it is often difficult to spot what differentiates a merely good horse from a high class one.

The  headstrong colt in picture (C) is Elusive Warrior. After a promising debut he was beaten at odds-on at Newmarket by newcomers. His appearance and behaviour here went a long way to explaining his defeat and the probable level of form of the Newmarket race. He is on the small side, slightly compact, notably narrow and looked to be an average maiden winner at best. A notable drifter in the market.

The lack of physical scope and range of movement was further hindered by his behaviour. He was wearing a cross-noseband and, in this case, this was probably because he's a strong puller. Running too freely to post and then giving loading into the stalls. He looks the type that rates 75-85 but struggles to win a southern maiden and finds it hard in handicaps because he gets a high rating for running at better courses.

Picture (A) shows the filly Tap My Feet who came into the race with moderate form. The picture shows her physical negatives which limit her ability quite clearly. She's tallish, leggy, narrow and lacks muscle overall.

The other three pictures show newcomers who finished in the 'wrong' order according to the betting market and it's worth trying to assess their potential. Picture (D) is Sun Catcher (R. Hannon) who was the preferred of the trainer's two runners, attracting each-way support in a period when this has been significant. He's typical of the type the trainer buys, slightly compact, deep-bodied and heavily built and looks a sprinter despite his pedigree.

He did not appear mentally ready to compete and needs to improve his athleticism. However, he ought to be able to rate around 80 at 2yo over 7f and has the scope to continue that development at 3yo.

Picture (E) is Veba (B. Hills) and he is a very different type to Sun Catcher. Taller, more lengthy and lighter build. In particular look at the 'buttock' area which is much narrower and less muscular. On set-up he is not a 6f type and he's likely to need 7f and perhaps 8f at 2yo and his lack of muscle is a slight worry.

However, he had a big positive in that he is a good, well-balanced mover. This shows in the picture, look at his length of stride in front and how well poised he is overall. This will help him achieve his potential and he ought to be able to win an average maiden.

Picture (F) is Grand Entrance and in form terms he made the most promising debut of the newcomers aside from Advanced. He represents a mainly NH trainer who had his first 2yo winner since 2001 two days earlier, for the same owner. 33/1 and 'tenderly handled' in finishing fourth from a moderate draw.

A certain future maiden winner? He's small, showed a scratchy action to post and was very fit for his debut. While a strong type he did not appeal as likely to show notable improvement and along with the fifth (Robustian) raised doubts about the actual form level. Probably vulnerable in maidens to newcomers.

With the runner summaries in place their development can be followed to see how it matches with expectations.

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