Eye Spy in Late Season
19th February, 2012
The British 2yo Season on the turf runs, usually, from late March through to early November. Slowly building in number of races and with longer distances feeding in through the months. A final total around 1,075 races although only a short time ago the overall number was 40-80 lower. But, a recognisable course of races to run in and with the vast majority of races run in the same form each year. Approaching 3,000 individual 2yos will runs representing a smallish set of trainers and sires. A long tail within the sets of those with only a handful of runners and the bulk of the juveniles representing a core of 40-50 handlers and stallions. A 'Closed System' where recognisable landmarks and occurrences will happen in many years.
Part one of this 'Eye Spy' trilogy covered the early season through to the end of May highlighting a number of things to watch for over that period. The second the midsummer months of June through to August. This last section covers the last part of the season from September through to the turf season close in November. What to look for along the way? The following sections suggest a few to check for ranging from the Championship events and the raft of Sales' races through to details of how trainers operate.
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When the Jockey Club set up the 'Pattern of Racing Committee' in 1965 to review how the upper tier of racing in Britain should develop one of their recommendations was "The 2yo programme should lead up to a set of championship races in the Autumn". It took some years from that initial committee report to get to a stable structure but the juvenile championship races in Britain are well set. Up to a point, given the recent changes and a worthwhile discussion remains over whether October is the right month to equal 'Autumn'.
There is no Championship event over 5f for 2yos and racing at the minimum distance is generally seen as a lesser discipline. Perhaps also too tightly linked to the development of 'Precocious' juveniles that the first Pattern Committee report saw as undesirable and not to be encouraged. Which means that the Group 2 Flying Childers at Doncaster in early September is the highest level race at 5f though a rung below the Group 1 Championship peak.
The 6f Championship for males is the Middle Park Stakes run at Newmarket's Rowley Course and inaugurated in 1866. Restricted to Colts only and in 2011 it would have cost an owner a total of £1,400 to enter a horse, pass through two declaration stages and then run. The race took place in very early October until 2010 and was two weeks before the 7f Championship for males. A re-organisation in 2011 saw it run on October 8th and on the same day as the 7f Championship which meant that horses could not run in both events.
The 7f Championship race is the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket which is open to both Colts & Fillies (see section 2 for the reason both sexes can participate). Fillies almost never run in the event. It has a history back to 1875. The total payable by an owner to have a runner in 2011 was £3,500 if they passed through the usual entry stages. £20,000 as a one-off payment to roll up at the 5 day declaration stage from scratch. This used to be run in mid-October but was moved earlier in 2011 because of the inception of the new British "Champions' Day" at Ascot in the mid-month slot.
The 8f Championship race is the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster and also open the both sexes although who the last female to run in it was would be a good question for 20 points. Unlike the two races at Newmarket it began in 1961 named after the sponsor (Timeform) and has been named after whatever sponsor is currently around rather than more long lasting historical names. 'Observer Gold Cup' as one of it's former guises, for example. 10 points for the other without using the Internet, Anybody? Just the £1,500 to pay to get a runner through the full process and £17,500 to turn up late. The level indicating that the Dewhurst would be seen as the pinnacle of the three Championship events open to the males.
Two main areas to look at for spying purposes across these three races. Firstly the impact of foreign raiders and, conversely, the returns by some of the important British based trainers and secondly the future significance of the events. As the Championships are they turning out the important 3yo runners or are they proving to be just juvenile Championships?
At the headline level all three races show a similar pattern with a VOB-gap-AOB structure for Irish wins and the odd sprinkling of French wins. Go back to the 1970s and into the early eighties and Vincent O'Brien backed by Robert Sangster's money and with John Magnier on the Coolmore Stud side was a dominant figure in the race. Those three made their success, to a large extent, on being early into the market for buying and importing American yearlings and targetting progeny from Northern Dancer and his sons and grandsons.
The last win in one of the three races for VOB was in 1983 when El Gran Senor was successful in the Dewhurst. That was the fifth win in the event in eight years for VOB and his seventh overall going back to Nijinsky (the original 'son of Northern Dancer' for the team). There was then no Irish win until Aiden O'Brien in 2001 with Rock Of Gibraltar, backed by Magnier, plus other money men like Smith, Tabor & McManus. Coolmore had found their way back to a formula to dominate.
But only up to a point in the Dewhurst. Only one win since with the 33/1 shot Beethoven as a lesser string. Plenty of places and they bring some of their best horses to the race but Jim Bolger has been the recent star. Four wins in the last six runnings for him, two with sons of Galileo and one with a grandson sired by one of his previous winners. He can also claim to have 'trained' AOB since Aiden was his assistant for a time. So, 6 Irish wins in the last 11 and owing a lot to the seam of high class stallions Coolmore have got back around to standing. 10 points for an Irish win and another 10 for a Coolmore sire. 30 points for a long priced second string.
Three French wins during the 1990s all by Andre Fabre with two for Khlaid Abdulla and one for Sheikh Mohammed. That seam has gone dry for the Maktoums and they have not had a success since Tobougg in 2000. Looking at the way seams of winners come and go over the last few decades you could conclude that a lot of the success is 'Luck' in getting involved with the right stallions at the right time. Perhaps Sheikh Mohammed picked a bad time to escalate a dispute with Coolmore into a separation which meant he would not but or use any of the progeny of their stallions. A separation which is just plain 'wrong' in genetic terms anyway.
How can any organisation spend that amount of money on youngstock, buying into others proven horses, and purchasing whole breeding organisations worldwide for the returns the Godolphin banner has had. Something more subtle than football style 'Buying Success' is going on. Anyway, 30 points for a Maktoum win with a purchased horse, 50 with a home bred and minus 10 if they buy into someone else's 2yo (as with Jim Bolger's New Approach).
Leaving aside the oddities, like Milk It Mick's success, one of the two trainers that span both the VOB & AOB eras is Henry Cecil. When VOB was winning the Dewhurst in 5 of 8 runnings Cecil won the one prior to that string and one of the 'holes' in the 8. He had an even longer break from 1982 with Diesis until Frankel brought him to success in 2010. Who is the other trainer to span VOB-AOB? 50 points for getting that unprompted. Fulke Johnson-Houghton (FJH) was a big name in the 1960s and won the Dewhurst in 1968 with Ribofilio for owner Charles Engelhard. When the same man owned the winner in 1969 it was again ridden by Piggott but Nijinsky was trained by VOB. FJH then declined into a much lesser training career but was back winning the Dewhurst in 2002 with a syndicate owned horse that cost 16,000 guineas. 50 points for 'return' win 2012 and the list of trainers that could fill that role includes Michael Stoute, absent since 1986 when he won for Sheikh Mohammed. 100 points for a win by a syndicate horse, whether trained by a younger trainer or a 'relic'.
Turn to the Racing Post Trophy and the pattern is similar although a race VOB only won once. Cecil and FJH are both there with wins going back to the 1960s. The Irish won in 1978 when Sandy Creek trained by Con Collins was successful but then a string of British trained winners until AOB won in 1997 with Saratoga Springs. In the last 15 runnings AOB has had 6 winners and there have been other foreign wins for Ireland (Michael Halford) & France (Criquette Maarek-Head). A complete turnaround and just odd, individual wins, for British based trainers including one for Godolphin with Ibn Khaldun. Funny how breeding 10-12f development horses became much more important to Coolmore than sprinter-milers when the Sadler's Wells line finally delivered some useful stallions.
Given the domination just 5 points for an AOB winner and 10 for a foreign win from another source. 30 points again for a Godolphin win with a purchased horse and 50 points with home bred. When is their roster of useful stallions standing under the Darley banner going to deliver regular juvenile champions for them? 20 points for a British win from a middle ranking trainer and 20 for a left-field surprise. Oh, and 50 points if Henry Cecil manages to step back up having won the race 10 times in total but not since Armiger in 1993.
What about the Middle Park Stakes? Last win for VOB in 1978 with Junius then a break for the Irish until AOB was successful in 2000 with Minardi. The only break from British based trainers winning in the interim were two victories for Ander Fabre in the 1990s for Sheikh Mohammed (perhaps he should get the Maroon colours back out). The Irish have won 5 of the last 12 runnings with 4 for AOB and one for David Wachman who is John Magnier's son-in-law so just Coolmore with a different badge on.
7 wins for the Maktoums in the 1990s but only one since 1998 with Awzaan's success in 2009. Other recent trainers with victories would be a typical group of senior British trainers, Johnston, Noseda (on a disqualification), Gosden & Barry Hills. 5 points for an Irish winner, 10 points for a British winner and 20 for one from France.
The large quantity of foreign trained winners in recent years does make you think about the quality of the juvenile racing you are watching. The season is supposed to lead up to these Championship events and the preceding Listed & Group races should help to identify the best in Britain. A good exercise before these races are run is to come up with your own list of which horses are of the appropriate quality to win a strong edition of the races. You should come to the conclusion in some years that nothing is outstanding and it is either an open race or one of the raiders will prove too good. 20 points per race for doing this exercise properly.
You should also be able to have a good estimate of assessing the quality of the race after it is run. As a rough guideline you can split the races into those which appeared to have Real quality horses in who will compete well at Group 1 level at 3yo and those below that level. Frankel provided a good recent example in 2010 and there were three 3yo Group 1 winners in his Dewhurst field. That race also sported a clear draw bias and 30 points for being able to factor that in correctly on Newmarket's open acres.
The 2011 edition of the Dewhurst was inconclusive and another long priced winner at 20/1 to go with a set at 25/1, 33/1, & 20/1 in the last 11 runnings. Only one of the previous long shots won again at Group level with Milk It Mick having to go to the US to win a Grade 1. The winner of Dewhurst in 2011 also was not placed as Champion 2yo on the end of season European ratings with Irish trained Camelot (Racing Post Trophy) joint top with the French trained Dabirsim. 30 points if Parish Hall wins at Group 2 level or above at 3yo and 10 points for each Group win from the field he beat. 20 points for you being able to assess what type of quality race the three Championships have produced and producing a list of Real Group contenders for 3yo. 50 points for keeping your interest long enough through the "..Cheltenham is only 3 months away now, unbelievable isn't it.." tosh to compare that to the Official Figures when they are published at year's end.
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We are going to be tough with definitions of 'Championship' and 'Top Class' here to counterbalance the sloppy approach taken generally in racing whereby large numbers of events end up categorised as such. There are only two Group 1 races for the fillies with the 6f Championship of the Cheveley Park Stakes and the 8f equivalent the Fillies' Mile (without whatever sponsor in currently hanging on, Hoover anyone?)
There is no 7f Championship event for the fillies which is presumably why the Dewhurst Stakes accepts female entrants while the Middle Park does not. The Group 2 Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket is the highest level for the Fillies and this was run on the same day as the Middle Park & the Dewhurst Stakes in 2011 having followed the Dewhurst Stakes shift from mid October. Since the Pattern Race Committee can promote races to Group 1 level you wonder why they have not already balanced things up? One possibility is that the 'Pattern Race Ratings' achieved by the Rockfel have not reached the required level for three consecutive years. The level for juvenile fillies' Group 1 races is 105 (110 for the males) and the Rockfel was a whisker below this in 2011 after three years of 106, 106 & 102.25 up to 2010. The handicapper is trying to bend things to get the result they want, as usual. But, another issue is that a promotion to Group 1 or 2 level should not adversely affect a similar event run in another country that is a member of the European Pattern. Perhaps a block there,
The Fillies' Mile was run at Ascot until 2010 and on the last Saturday in September. With a number of Group 1 events shifting to Ascot from Newmarket to create the new British "Champions' Day" the Fillies' Mile moved to Newmarket as a balancing makeweight. It was run on September 24th in 2011 and on the same Newmarket card as the 6f Cheveley Park Stakes to create a juvenile fillies' Championship day. The Cheveley Park moving a week earlier than usual and away from the Middle Park Stakes for the males. The race began as the 'Green Shield Stamp Stakes' in 1973 and was promoted to Group 3 level in 1975, Group2 in 1986 & Group 1 in 1990 having been through a range of sponsors. Green Shield became Argos, etc, etc.
That history makes it different from the males' events and Vincent O'Brien never won it and it would not have been a significant race when he was at his peak power. There have been three Irish wins with a very early one for Paddy Prendergast in 1975 and Aiden O'Brien successful in 1998 & 2007. The bulk of the winners are still owner bred fillies for major organisations and, unlike with the males, Godolphin have managed to produce the last two winners to hint at their breeding operation at last producing more quality juveniles. Of the last 20 winners perhaps only 1 went through the sales ring with Simply Perfect costing Michael Tabor 220,000 guineas as a yearling.
As with the males races there will be 20 points available for doing the pre-race quality assessment exercise and it should be easier than for the males. More British based winners and owner breds for a small set of organisations dominate. On the other side they will probably have run less often. In the race itself 10 points for a British win, 20 for a foreign one. 50 points for a purchased winner and 100 points if she cost less than 40,000 guineas and is owned by someone out of the mainstream of Coolmore, Cheveley Park, Strawbridge, Goldolphin, Lloyd-Webber & so on.
What about quality? How has the race done in recent years in producing 3yo Group wins? A pretty good record after a dry spell at the end of the 1990s. 8 of the last 10 winners have gone on to succeed at Group level as 3yos or older including Group or Grade 1 victories for Gossamer, Soviet Song, Nannina, Simply Perfect, Rainbow View and Hibaayeb. Along with Group 2 level successes for Red Bloom & Playful Act. An excellent record and suggesting a good prospect for Lyric Of Light in 2012. 20 points for each Group win she managed but minus 20 if she fails to run again. Which is what happened to the last filly Godolphin won the Fillies' Mile with and the only one of the last 10 to not run after the win.
The Cheveley Park Stakes has a much longer history going back to 1899. Again it is disimilar to the colts' races in that it does not have the VOB-gap-AOB structure. It does have Vincent O'Brien winners with his last as late as 1990 with Capricciosa. But no Irish winner after that until 2011 when Ger Lyons won a muddling race with Lightening Pearl. Because of the Pattern race set-up it does attract French runners and when Criquette Maarek-Head won in 2009 with Special Duty it was her fourth win going back to Ma Biche in 1982. Pascal Bary also won for France in 2008 with Natagora and another filly that went on to Group 1 success as a 3yo.
Comparing the winners to the Fillies' Mile and a more varied list. More purchased horses and less established owner breeders. No Coolmore nor Godolphin and Sheikh Mohammed's last success goes back to 1997 and in his own maroon & white silks. The British trainers are less 'Old School' heavy and the odd small stable mixed in with the 2yo oriented yards like Hannon & Meehan. 20 points for an Irish win and 10 points for French one. 30 points for a small British stable winning with a cheap purchase and 5 points for the larger yards.
A much more mixed story with future relevance as well. In recent years the French fillies along with Hannon's Indian Ink have provided Group 1 wins at 3yo over 8-10f. Airwave went on to be a Group 2 level sprint winner over the next few seasons. But, the others have been minor winners as older horses if they ran much at all. Examples of precocious 2yo sprinters who did not develop into better class 3yos. 30 points for the exercise of assessing the 2012 race to see in what group the winner fits - 2yo only, older sprinter, development types for 8f+ & classic pretensions. 20 points for Lightening Pearl fitting your assessment after her 2011 win. 50 points if the winner top the 2yo filly ratings at year's end.
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While the Group 1 races are the Championships another set of races take place in late season which are at least as interesting. Large field races with prize money exceeding that of the Group events in many instances because of their 'sweepstake' nature funded by large scale nominations to be eligible to race at the yearling stage. A trainer like Richard Fahey, for example, chose to win as many of the valuable sales races as he could with Wootton Bassett and ignore the British Group races. The first issue is to identify and define what we mean by 'Sales Race'. With the increase and change in recent seasons keeping up with what is going on is difficult and 50 points for anyone who can reel off the races involved and their conditions. 20 points for identifying what is going on with the Watership Down Fillies' race, in particular,
This section refers to both to those races which are tied to a particular Auction House and perhaps to an individual sale the House holds and those which allow wider entries. The history is a little murky, to B2yoR, but the sweepstake races of this type started in the late 1980s or early 1990s with the Supersprint at Newbury and the Redcar Trophy. These were not tied to a particular sale but received entries from the range of those 2yos sold at an open sale. The weights for the races were then set by the actual price that the horse fetched at the latest sale and this produced wide weight ranges. Both of these races are still going with the Redcar Trophy at Listed level.
During the 1990s other races developed that had large prize funds but were limited to a particular sale or sub-set of sales run by a particular Auction House. Tattersalls used to run a race for their premier 'Houghton Sales' back in the 1990s for example and Doncaster Auctions have been running their £200,000 (or £300,000 or whatever they had managed to rake in from nomination and entry fees) 'St Leger Yearling' sales race since the 1990s. The high prize money involved, with money down to 10th place in some cases, ensured big fields and that better class horses would also be tempted to take part. A very interesting mix for those interested in 2yo racing to see large fields of juveniles of widely varying abilities competing all out for the money with no messing about. A set of late season race with a big number of 2yo 'characters' from the season all gathered in one race. Terrific.
The success of these races has led to Tattersalls reintroducing a whole set of new races. Doncaster Auctions have split their main race into two with the one tied to the main Doncaster yearling sale (now called the Premier sales) moved earlier to the York Ebor meeting. An open £300,000 2yo stakes, like the Supersprint or Redcar Trophy, has taken it's place at the St Leger meeting in early September. There has also been a new addition from Brightwell Sales. Goffs sales in Ireland (now in partnership with Doncaster Sales) and the Irish arm of Tattersalls also run similar race set meaning it can be hard going in later season to keep track of where all the 2yos are going to run next. Here is a summary, in date order, of what races were run in 2011 :-
It is worth noting that in 2011 the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket was worth £179,770 with prize money down to 6th. As a first Eye-Spy task watch out for winners from Richard Hannon and 10 points each and 50 points if they tip the balance in the trainers' Championship standings. Two wins in 2011 in the main Tattersalls £500,000 race plus one of the supporting events which brought in the thick end of £400,000 for winning two juvenile races before adding in any of the other 'placed' money he picked up. How many Group 1 races, for any age groups, could he win worth that much in Britain during the whole year?
Given the amount of money on offer what sort of quality are these races really proving to be? Just on money grounds they ought to be Group quality throughout and the most valuable should be some of the best run? How do different trainers, and owners, split when faced with a choice of chasing prize money pots compared to Group race prestige? Like the Fahey choice with Wootton Bassett. Some spotting points on offer.
in 2011 the quality of the races varied hugely and worth spotting in 2012 how the races stack up in Group race terms. In 2011 the DBS race at York produced a, pretty soft, later Group winner in Roger Sez and 50 points if she proves Group class as a 3yo in 2012. The filly Samitar won a Group 3 at Ascot in July and then ran in two of the Tattersalls series finishing second to the colt Mehdi and winning the main Fillies event in October. Tell Dad improved in later season and ran in two of the races winning the one of the Tattersalls events and finishing second in the main £500k race on his way to a late season Group 3 win. He was one of three Group winners to run in the pinnacle Tattersalls race with previous Group winners Talwar & Entifaadha 7th & 5th. The winner of the Weatherbys race at the Doncaster St Leger meeting went on to place in the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes as another positive.
Which produced solid races without being strong all the way through and with a pretty good Group race representation. 20 points for each previous Group winner in the races and 30 for a later Group win after having run in them. 50 points if any win a Group 1 event and 100 if one finishes in the top three 2yo ratings for the year. On the reverse side the fillies' races can be pretty empty and there was little behind Samitar when she won her £162,000 race. Minus 10 points for an empty fillies events and an extra 50 if any of them produce two Group winners.
One other item to Spy for in 2012 is the split between trainers. Which, when they have a Group class horse chase the money only or the Group race prestige only? Which try to do both? As a rough guideline you could split the trainers and owners into the 'Old School' traditional camp and owner breeder types who will target the Group races and barely know what the conditions for the other races are. 20 points for each one of that type that seriously target the 'Sales Races' although only 10 per runner for Aiden O'Brien because Coolmore seemed to have cottoned on to the fact you can do both.
Rare runners from the Maktoums although Hamdan does have more 2yo targetted types including those bought at Auction and does try at times. Mark Johnston will also try with a runners for Sheikh Mohammed's son. 75 points for a Khalid Abdulla runner though and 100 for a Ballymacoll Stud. 20 points for each trainer that manages to do both and win a 'Sales' event and a Group race with the same horse. Examples in 2010-11 are Fahey, Hannon & Channon which provides a pretty good template for the size and type of stable to look to.
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Having thought about the top level races and the 'Sales' events this leads on to think about a particular type of late season development. The classic example is a horse who has been running since relatively early in the season and had a pretty full career. They will probably have run in nurseries and most likely from Official Ratings (ORs) in the 80s without looking anything above that. Their 'Class Level' and what they are capable of seems well set and you think you understand them. Then in September & October something appears to happen and they are winning 'Sales' races and minor Group events. What is happening? Have they suddenly improved a lot or are the races they are running in much softer quality that they ought to be? Often a bit of both explanations.
There are two regular trainers who typify this sort of improver and the first is Richard Hannon. 2011 gave a good example of how the story might develop. Tell Dad made an early debut on April 13th as favourite at the Newmarket Craven meeting where Hannon would normally start a useful one. A promising enough second there after a slow start in a slow race. But, two more places at short prices followed and the stalls perhaps still an issue. First string for the owner in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot fourth outing but at 25/1 and well beaten and looking like a 'Social' runner.
A break after that then an unplaced run at Glorious Goodwood in a nursery off OR85. Here is a horse who was ready early for a major new owner which is why he ran at the Craven meeting. He is probably one of those OR88, two fat horses, types who sucker in lesser trainers and would not catch out Hannon who has trained thousands of juveniles. 'Up North' on August 30th to finally break his maiden in an empty Ripon nursery off OR83. He would not be on your list of prospective Group winners before season end.
A second in a Novice as 3rd favourite of 4 runners on September 14th looked more of the same. What happened after that to change things? He runs just 3 days later in the £500,000 one of the Tattersalls Sales Races as the stable second string but at 8/1 but still an afterthought presumably. A win and more than £100,000 in the bank. He then runs in the main £500,000 Tattersalls sales race against the same group of horses he beat last time. Runner-up to the stable companion he bested previously and as mild stable first string at 7/1. Then off to Newbury to win the 'afterthought' Group 3 race that the Horris Hill often proves to be. He was then rated OR106 and more than 20lbs improvement in a few weeks. How 'real' was that improvement?
An oddity you might think but Hannon has been turning out these sort of 'surprises' in later season for years. Here is a sample to make the point :-
Other lower level examples for Hannon with runners peaking up to Listed or Conditions races from 'lesser' runs before the late season. Hannon is not the only trainer that turns this type of 'Nursery to Group 3' winner out. The other used to be Barry Hills and how will the stable perform now son Charles has the licence? Just two examples for Mr Hills but there are a good cast of others including Captain Marvelous who is a First Season Sire in 2012.
Go back to 2010 and Rerouted makes a solid debut in third at the York May Meeting in an important maiden. The clear winner went on to place second in the Coventry Stakes behind Strong Suit. A comfortable win in a solid maiden later that month then beaten in a Nursery off OR85 in July. A break then back in September with a 4th in a Nursery at the St Leger Meeting in early September off OR89. You know what happens next. Successful in the Group 3 Somerville Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket on September 30th. Beating a moderate field at 8/1.
2009 and Swilly Ferry makes a solid debut 3rd in the Brocklesby behind clear winner Hearts Of Fire. Wins a maiden third go on June 4th then drops to Nurseries after a thrashing at Conditions level at the Newmarket July Meeting looking a 'Social Outing'. 3rd in both nurseries off OR86 then OR83 and not looking to be going anywhere positive. Then a solid 4th in the York Sales Race in mid-August followed by a success in the St Leger Meeting Sales race on September 10th looking a different horse. Up to OR97 for that and two thumpings followed. Another standout effort on his 3rd run at 3yo got him to OR104 and he has managed just one place in 18 later runs. Three of his last five outings in 2011 as a 4yo have seen him finish 20th of 20 runners off OR89. Baffling.
30 points for anyone going away and finding out how many of these examples went on to prove Real Group class in later seasons. 50 points for coming up with a good theory, that can be tested, about what is going on in these instances. If you want to spot the type in 2012 then this may appear a tough job. There are a few clues though. The horses tend to have started at courses and in races that the trainers would send at least an OR80s type to and perhaps with the hope they prove a bit better. They often continue to run them in races which appear above the class they are showing around the nursery efforts. Most will hint at the upturn in their expressed form in one run, perhaps a place in a strong nursery after an ordinary effort, before the late season blossoming. Whatever that improvement actually amounts to in rating points.
10 points for identifying a possibles for Hannon & Hills in early and mid-season. 20 points for identifying and upturn run. 50 points for supporting to right type in the right race. Looking at the bullet points above do not be put off by any price you find a Hannon runner to be in a late season Group 3, or Listed, race. 20 extra points for working out what, different types, of late season developers David Evans, Mick Channon & Jamie Osborne might produce.
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Time to delve into more niche spying after the larger items. Here are a couple of trainers who are often profitable to follow in later season. The first example is Ralph Beckett who has an interesting record with late season debuts and a wrinkle with 8f newcomers worth looking out for. At the headline level he has shown a profit following all debuts in the September to November period in 4 of the 7 seasons 2004-11 and the performance was very good in 2011.
Limit the debuts to those in the 8f distance group and the profitable years now make up 6 of the last 7 seasons. Look in a bit more detail and a notable wrinkle shows up. Watch out for the filly he debuts in late September or early in October and often the first debut at the distance after a break from the early 8f debuts. They often prove to be the best of the type he has and compete strongly FTO. For example :-
A pretty simple formula. 10 points for each 8f debut win. Be alert for an early start for the 'Best 8f Filly' in mid-September. If he does not have a filly make an 8f debut at that time then the one in later September or early October must be the best he has. If he has one at all. 20 points for catching her correctly and an extra 10 points if Beckett starts talking about Oaks Trials for her to start off her 3yo year.
Marco Botti has made a solid impression since starting out in Newmarket and presumably trying to make his name separately from the towering achievements of his father and uncle in Italy. He has made changes to his approach during his six seasons here but a couple of regular wrinkles show up. The first spreads across the season and he seems to batch up his most competitive 2yos in the first debuts at a particular distance group. If the first one or two debuts at 7f in a year have proved uncompetitive and season maidens then it will be a rare year when anything appears out of the later runners who start out over 7f.
A more baffling wrinkle is his split between September and October records overall. Unlike distances there is nothing fixed about dates as such. A more precocious set of runners or a warmer & drier summer should shift the record around by a few weeks at times. But, his record with September runners in 2006-11 is a dreadful 0-48 after the usual mix of winners to runners you would expect in June to August. Move on to October and his record then becomes very good and a solid profit on a 9-66 record (14%).
A poor 2010 came back to be a good 2-9 return in 2011 including what is now a rare debut winner with his second runner over 8f. A small sample overall and he will get his September win soon but the record over 6 seasons suggests there is something in his approach which brings the late season runners back to his normal level of competitiveness after a lull. 10 points for each October win and 20 points for an overall profit in that month in 2012. Minus 10 points for a win in September before the 25th and minus 5 if his last runner to make a debut over 7f proves to be a season winner when the earlier ones prove to be maidens.
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The previous articles and the website in general spends a lot of time tracking debut runs. For good reason because they are special in a number of ways and pulling out information from them not available to others can be very useful. But, the second run (STO) by juveniles is also important and for many will be when they are ready to compete to their peak ability. Looking at those trainers who get profitable results with juveniles on their second runs is interesting and identifies those handlers who get 'enough' STO wins to be value at how the Market values them.
By the end of the season even the slowest developing 'Old School' trainers should have a good handle on which are their competitive 2yos and which ones they think they can win with in 2-3 late season outings. In this section a number of trainers are identified who have proved profitable to follow with STOs in recent years. How many of those profits were real, repeatable, returns and which were oddities. A small selection to track in 2012.
The most regular profits in recent years have been by William Haggas who has produced 6 positive seasons in the last 9 and 2 in the last 3. As with many developing trainers the SPs have decreased over the years as the Market slowly reacts but he still gets enough winners to produce regular profits. In a normal year the majority of the STO wins come in late September and through October as he tidies up wins with the horses he has identified as one he convert to winners from maidens. In 2011, as examples, his three latest STO wins were in October and all had made August debuts with one placing and two unplaced. 10 points for each STO win in the period and an extra 20 points for achieving an overall profit.
Next, three older school trainers from privileged backgrounds and how seriously should we take their recent good results with late season STO runners? Henry Cecil went through well documented problems in both in his personal and professional lives in the last decade and the STO results in later season followed this path. Fewer runners and only occasional winners but then a slow return to form from 2008 onwards. Two small profits in 2010 and 2011 and a return to a set of 'Tidy Up' STO successes in October. Not long SPs but a confidence that you can now rely on Henry to get the job done again. Hopefully more of the same in 2012 as his return to better results continues. The same points scoring as with the Haggas STOs.
A different feel with John Dunlop and you tend to feel his stable is in a retirement decline. Numbers of runners and winners dwindling in recent years and little better quality types. But, a couple of profits with the late season STOs in 2010 & 2011 as with Cecil and a 33/1 in 2011 producing a big profit. How confident would you be of that continuing? Not that sure and reverse the scoring points from the Cecil approach.
A similar Up-Down-Up path for Roger Charlton and another, if younger model than Cecil and Dunlop senior, handler who found he could no longer just rely on his 'chums' to tip horses into the stable. Including those chums from school who were now racing managers for major owners. Unlike the other pair Charlton has engaged with the Internet age and worked a bit at drumming up syndicate owned horses and so on. Solid seasons all around in 2010-11 and two big profits with late season STO runners in 2009 & 2011. As with the other trainers those profits were built on 'Tidy Up' wins from October on with a few others spread through September. Larger numbers of winners than his usual in this period and some longer SPs given his status but helped by some uncompetitive debuts. A much more positive story to follow than John Dunlop's an at the usual points rate.
One old schooler to avoid is Michael Stoute with 8 losses in the last 9 seasons and the one profit relied on an unusual long SP win. A trainer in the middle of a dip at present but never profitable even when he was not and the Market probably knows too much.
Godolphin have got a Section to themselves in each of the previous articles in the trilogy but not here. Look at the Suroor & Zarooni record recently and you wonder about whether they should have had a higher billing here. Surror has shown solid profits in two of the last three years and that after three moderate years with less runners overall which followed on from two years with big profits on the late season STOs. Go back to 2009 and one of the main features of the late season was watching Ted Durcan riding Godolphin juvenile winner after winner whatever outing they were on. How does the Market forget about Suroor to the point that he can return profits again?
With Zarooni starting out in 2010 he seems to have taken up the role as the main 2yo trainer and jumped to second place overall, behind Hannon, in terms of number of individual juvenile runners in 2011. A small loss in 2010 then Zarooni produced a big profit with STOs in late season in 2011. The Market is still learning about Zarooni so both Godolphin trainers look interesting to track in 2012 at the usual rate.
A couple of other trainers of different types to watch rather than track in 2012 to see if the hints develop in a positive way. Roger Varian made a good profit and a solid start with the STOs in late season in 2012 and inteesting to see how that develops. When Michael Jarvis had the licence he made only one profit in the the last 7 seasons and that in an untypical season. You would be a lot less confident about Willie Muir building on the profits he showed in 2009 & 2011 on small numbers. Perhaps it showed up a real change but more likely to be just down to some unusual horses or circumstances you would feel. On the other hand he has shown a profit in 3 of the last 4 seasons but an inconsistent trainer overall and uninspiring, confidence wise.
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Indian Summers, if they come, are for September and might just persist into early October but a characteristic of the late season racing must be softer going, surely. A spectacular Indian Summer in 2011 with temperatures into the late 20 degrees celcius range, if you remember. October still came back to fulfil the soft ground expectations, to some extent but in a patchy way and the year was untypical overall. The month with the most races run on Good with Good to Soft places (GGS) going reports or easier was August. But Nottingham, for example, got it's only going with soft in it on October 12th (GGS) and then Soft in November.
2010 was more typical with a steady increase in the percentage of juvenile turf races run on GGS or softer in the last 4 months of the year. 13% in July, 45% in August (still pretty high) then 68% in September and 85% from the start of October to season close. Normally, the late into the season the worse the ground gets and especially really late on. There hasn't been a Nursery run in November that did not have 'Soft' or 'Heavy' in the going report since 2007 and the last example before that year was in 2003. To give a feel for the overall season split in 2010 there were 877 races run on the turf of which 15% had the going report exactly as 'Good'. 49% were on going reported as being firmer than Good and 36% on going easier than Good.
Individual years will vary but a good case for a general trend to softer going in late season can be made. But, 'So What?'. Should the punter and pundit be caring about the change? Does anything happen that makes racing on softer going 'different' from firmer turf? Listen to the pundits and a wide range of racing people and it should make a huge difference. A whole industry has developed over the last decade trying to compartmentalise every sire into a 'Going' speciality. Often on samples too small to prove anything and recasting slight possible biases as absolutes. A fundamentalist streak in a lot of this so not something to criticise unless you have the time to dodge fatwahs.
10 points for every example of a Pundit switching to this single approach to try to pick their winners. Another 10 for every trainer who says they have been waiting to debut a 2yo on soft ground because of it's pedigree alone. 15 points if any further explanation mentions only one of the horse's parents, 20 points if the soft ground bias rests upon the dam's sire solely, i.e. the Maternal Grandsire.
What about the Trainers' going bias based on the same approach? Mark Johnston showed Strike Rates above his season average in 2010-11 for all runners on Good with Good-to-Firm (GGF) going or firmer. In both years he was below his average on GGS going reports or easier surfaces. The differences each year of the level that would have a 'Sires for Going' guru drooling, in absolutist terms. 50 points for finding a way to exploit this Trainer bias in 2012 and 100 points for coming up with a plausible explanation to test in the longer term.
After a spell of rain and the going has changed to soft a regular format you will hear from pundits will be "..that the results change totally with the going and you can throw the formbook out of the window...". 20 points for each version of that phrasing spotted. How true might that be and do things really become that chaotic? This is a sub-section of an article so not the place to analyse at length so time to reach for a single, blunt, tool instead. The average SP returns on the different extremes of going. Do we get a lot more long priced winners and beaten favourites as the going changes.
A brief look at the averages seems to show 'something' but it would take a lot more work to prove anything. The average winning SP for all juvenile race on GGF or firmer in the 4 seasons 2008-11 was 5.85/1 (i.e. just under 6/1 and do not start subtracting any units. The average for GGS or easier races was 6.44/1. The total of races was 1,735 for the firmer side and 755 for the easier going.
Look at Nurseries only, form built up on firm being tested on soft for example, for the same 4 years and the figures are 7.44/1 for softer going and 6.76/1 for firmer. Longer SPs overall as you would expect if the handicapper is having the effect he desires and the same slightly higher number for softer. The All-Weather figures, polytrack & fibresand, in the same period is 6.66/1 and very close to the firmer turf return. Anyway, 10 points for each 5/4 favourite or shorter beaten on softer going and the same for each 16/1 winner or longer. 50 points for each bit of selection bias displayed when the Pundit falls onto a single example to prove the 'chaos' line.
What about weight in Nurseries? Trainers seem hung up on the absolute weight carried while ignoring the fact that it really shouldn't matter unless the effect of weight in non-linear. 100 points for any trainer addressing that issue as they blithely pontificate about their horse "..not being built to carry higher weights..." or similar. 10 points for each use of the phrase. Pull another blunt tool from the box and the average weights that Nursery winners carry on softer going is a little bit less than on firm. Across the 2008-11 period the average weight less than the topweight carried by winners on softer going was 7.82lbs while it was 7.28lbs on firmer going. Another subtle affect, or noise? Or the handicapping system showing through. The same figure for all-weather races during 2008-11 is very different at just 5.35lbs. The percentage of winners more than 9lbs below the topweight is just over 30% for both firmer & softer turf but down to 18% for the artificial surfaces. Try explaining that for 100 points.
What about Halfway Positions versus final placings? Surely the prominent racers do less well on easier going probably because it is harder to judge the pace and easier to go a bit too hard. Jockeys get less chance to ride on soft ground and the horses will almost certainly not have trained at home on easier going. A blunt look at the 2008-11 figures shows a mild difference like the other figures. For example, 53% of races on GGS or easier were won by one of the first three horses at halfway. Turn to the GGF or firmer races and the figure is 61%. That is on a sample of about 1,500 races unevenly split between the more firmer ground races and less softer ground ones, as you would expect. More head-scratching and lessons in not being absolutist and instead trying to understand the subtleties. 10 points for each bit of bluster about the bias heard during late season 2012 and 100 points for anyone who takes it somewhere a bit more subtle.
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If evening meetings, perhaps with huge crowds waiting for the post-racing concert, err.. gig, and a real buzz are a real highlight of midsummer racing then what do we get in late season? More of a lowlight, unfortunately. Evening meetings at the All-Weather tracks under floodlights at Kempton or Wolverhampton. The settings included Great Leighs for a short time and 100 points if that returns. 50 points for going to a racecourse where the Tarmac contractors are rolling out the Car Park as you enter. The Tarmac has set by the time you leave and the contractors are still there working and the Car Park has doubled in size. Happy Days. These meetings recently having increased notably as the betting industry drives the fixtures process and has changed 2yo racing a some ways. Hints in 2012 that the numbers of fixtures will drop and 10 points for each that goes.
The prevailing feeling about Kempton? Very Dark and mostly empty and less buzz than a single bee. The darkness is beyond what it ought to be even given the daylight has gone. Why is the floodlighting so poor? There are areas where you can hardly see to walk. 20 points if you go and the same lighting engineer explains to you how the 'Candle Power' is below what it should be for various reasons and yes it is dark. But, gratifying to know that historical units like Horse Power, Candle Power & British Thermal Units are still in wide use.
30 points for realising that trying to do Paddock Review, of any variety, in the lighting available is flawed. The darkness hides the movement, the coat quality and so forth. The sheen when the horse actually gets floodlit is misleading as well. Then there is the weather. It has got to minus two degrees Celcius and there is a ghostly mist rolling around under the worthwhile floodlights on the track. No other humans in sight and 50 points for resisting the temptation to wonder what all this is about. Walk around the entire area between Pre-Parade, Parade Ring and in front of the stands as the horses are going to the start and 1 point for every person you see no counting the tiny number of bookmakers. The small crowd will be mostly inside and very few will make it outside for a race even in milder weather.
10 points for each time they run the race and you are outside and manage not to think "..why did they cock things up by putting the AW course inside the NH track?..". The finish is miles away even if you are stood on the rail of the enclosure. A tough sell and one for the committed racegoer and when have they got a daylight meeting on so someone can actually see what is going on?
A little different at Wolverhampton but not a bright start. 20 points if the gateman warns you not to leave any electronic devices visible in the car and make sure you park close to the buildings. Circling the wagons on the edge of the wasteland between the disgorging estate on one edge and the racecourse at the remote edge. 20 points if the car is still there after racing and 50 points if the sat-nav is with it.
A more compact area amid the usable-Tin-Shed architecture so the lighting is a bit better although still some dead spots. But, still difficult to do any Paddock Review and 50 points to anyone who demonstrates they can match their daylight efforts. Probably a similar size crowd but a feeling of being larger because of being compressed and a few more go outside because there is less space inside. 20 points if the bookmakers end up inside anyway and 5 points for each one above a total of four.
Another plus for Wolverhampton with the track right next to the enclosure which again helps to capture and build what atmosphere there is rather than it leaking away into space and gaps. 50 points for getting clouted by a clod of polytrack as the field rolls home in a snow affected meeting. 20 points if you actually enjoy yourself and feel you have extended your racing knowledge.
But the real points are for suggesting how to improve these dark & empty meetings that does not involve adding some daylight.
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September and October can be about more than just the racing if you are seriously interested in 2yo racing. The period sees the start of the yearling sales and the first chance to see the horses that will be next year's juveniles. If you like Paddock Review then a chance to see hundreds of horses, for free, in a compact period on one site. It will take a long time to see the estimates tested but there are a lot of benefits to seeing batches of horses anyway and many yearlings are well enough developed to see the type of horses they will become. Remember that many trainers will have them doing basic training work later in the year before they officially turn 2yo, let alone their actual birthdate. Check out the Gallops page on Mick Channon's website in early 2012 and the video of the first set of colts were doing group canters up his stiff turf gallops dates from January 6th. Those horses will have had to do a lot of basic training and conditioning work to get to that stage.
The September start date for the yearling sales has moved a little bit into late August which is a bit unfortunate for an article purporting to cover the late season from September on. But, let's pretend for a bit. One of the two main Auction Houses in Britain in Doncaster Bloodstock Auctions (DBS) and they used to start the yearling selling season with their 'St Leger Sales' in early September during the St Leger meeting. Racing followed by hours of sales for several days proved a tough schedule so the sales have now moved to the previous week. This year the renamed 'Premier Sales' take place on August 29th & 30th, or early September as it is usually known. DBS have always positioned themselves as selling precocious 2yo types and the sires represented usually reflect this.
DBS are situated next to the racecourse in a newly built facility having moved from a site nearby which betrayed the 'Bloodstock' origins. The smaller, and second level, 'St Leger Festival' sales now take place as a one day sales which will be on September the 13th which is the Thursday of the St. Leger meeting. Still possible to have a day of racing, including a major juvenile sales, race followed by a visit to the yearling sales. The final day of sales of yearlings is on November 6th with the turf season closing at Doncaster on Saturday the 10th in 2012.
The largest Auction House is Tattersalls which is situated in the edge of the town just off the main road that leads out to the pair of racecourses. They would say they sell yearlings of all types and would catalogue around 2,000 each year compared to the 800+ that Doncaster have. Their main sales run through October and in 2012 are split into three 'Books' (different catalogue volumes). The first Book is a 4 day sale running October 9th-12th when they have no racing but the 'Future Champions Day' featuring the 2yos follows on Saturday the 13th.
'Book 1' has traditionally been the place where the star turns will be sold and the 'cream' would be sold on Day 1 & 2. Remember that all the yearlings will have been assessed by Tattersalls both by pedigree and usually by physical inspection before they are accepted into any sale. Which means Tattersalls can grade the sales as they see fit. Their assessors are using the same methods as the bloodstock agents so the prices tend to follow the expectations quite well. There has been an attempt to spread the top quality 'prospects' through the 4 day sale and not put them on a single day or session. But this is the sale to look for to produce the top yearling prices of the year. The stallions represented will include those like Galileo who have a star reputation but a so-so record with 2yos because their stock develops with time or are given time by the trainers they go to. Which means many of the top lots will not run as 2yos or will go to Ireland and Coolmore and have little impact on British 2yo Racing. The Doncaster sales will produce more 2yos you see competing day-to-day.
The quality will decrease through the Book 2 & Book 3 sales but there will always be yearlings that defy the billing they are given and sell for higher prices than those at the previous sales. Spotting why they fetch higher prices is a useful exercise and because they are surrounded by horses selling for notable less the differences usually show up clearly. Book 2 is another 4 day sale from October 15th to the 18th and Book 3 a one day sale on October 19th. None of these now coincide with a race meeting as they used to before the "Champions' Day" shake-up. Tattersalls then finish with a 'December Yearling Sale' on November 26th and they have the same problem with month boundaries as this article.
That used to be it in British terms but Brightwell Sales has grown in recent years and they added a Breeze-up sale in 2012 and also had a 'Sales Race'. Brightwells have a different background being a general auctioneers selling fine arts, property, etc. They sell at Ascot Racecourse and their sales in 2012 which include "youngstock" amongst the pointers, sports horses and so on are on August 28th, October 9th & November 6th.
That sets the scene and B2yoR would encourage people to go and experience a sale. All sales are free to enter and open to all-comers. Catalogues are available online and are free from the offices or kiosks at most of the major sales. You can go anywhere and, to make the point, if you want to see a particular yearling up close then find out where it is stabled and go to see it. Ask the attendant with the horse to walk it up and down for you. That is what they are there for to show off the items for sale. Not bold enough for that? Then the sale will have a 'Collecting Ring' where the lots who are due in the Sales Ring parade wile awaiting their turn. Just like a Parade Ring at the racecourse and you can catch the horses there.
There is a lot to see and learn at the sales both about the horses and about the people involved. You will recognise many of the trainers, owners and agents present. Watch how they interact and operate. What sort of horses they bid for and how they do it. Sneak a look at a few paper catalogues to see what counts as expert comments and notes. You will be surprised by what gets put down by the insiders. One word of warning is that the sales days can be long with 10 hours of selling horses at around 20-25 horses per hour. Rattling tannoys and conveyor belt processes mean things can seem a little bewildering and tiring. Have a plan for what you want to get out of the day and how long you plan to stay.
In Eye-Spy terms a wide array of items, here are a few to check for. On the yearling side it is always useful to see a set of offspring by the same sire in a short time. Do they show similarities or are they all shapes, sizes and colours? How does this relate to the phrase 'stamping their stock'? If you see traits then can you spot how those traits feed through into the types of runners the stallion gets? Sprinters versus stayers, precocious against late developers as examples. 10 points for each sire you feel you have a better understanding of. 20 points if it is a First Season Sire and you come away feeling you have a better understanding of what to expect from his first 2yo runners.
One of the yearlings catch your eye and you think it should be ok as a 2yo? Note it down and why and take a picture if possible. Follow that horse through the sale and then through it's 2yo career. You will probably find that personalising following a horse leads to a better understanding of how yearlings develop and how that feeds into 2yo racing. Pick out a few as a 'Virtual String' for the next year and follow how they progress. Having a winning bet on a 2yo that you picked out as a yearling and followed will be a good feeling. 10 points per horse and 20 points for each 2yo win.
20 points if you find yourself stood next to Sheikh Mohammed at the collecting Ring at Tattersalls. 10 for Hamdam and mind the minders. Unlikely to see Coolmore's John Magnier there because he does a lot of his own bidding while the Sheikh has 'people' to do it for him. 30 points for Magnier having an argument with one of his advisors. 10 points for each trainer who appears to be doing their own thing including bidding. 5 points for each one dutifully following around after a bloodstock agent.
The bidding can look pretty mysterious at times and 10 points for each 'invisible' bidder you spy once you get your eye in. They may well be looking away from the auctioneer and doing nothing more than a mild head nod or just a facial expression. But, but this will be timed in with how the auctioneer responds. 30 points for spotting the paranoid bidders who run up the stairs from out of sight to bid then go away again. Perhaps scared that someone thinks so highly of their opinion that they will step in. 20 points for each bidder that gets talked into having 'just one more' when they should eally have stopped. 10 points if they end up with the horse and another 10 if they spent 10 seconds looking at their catalogue before assenting. 50 points for the 'show bidder' who is almost waving to the crowd as they bid on. Mark Prescott stood in a highly visible position waving his cigar while smiling broadly a good example.
1 point for each mention by the auctioneer of a 'Good Page' and minus 1 for each bit on nonsense about 'Bloodlines'. Minus 10 for the ridiculous phrase "..three-quarter brother in blood..". And for the final bit of people watching 10 points for each example of the tiniest lass being used to walk the tiniest yearlings around. Plus 20 points for each nervous stud representative appearing just before their star turn for the year comes into the ring and stands wringing the horse rug they will be holding. 1 point for each time they prompt the lead-up person to walk the yearling faster to get it to show better. How this one sells will probably decide how well the stud has done for the whole year and this person's bonus, perhaps job, might depend on it.
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It is coming down to the last week of the season and what is there left to look for? To try to spy for. The Group races are all complete and so are the big field sales events. Many trainers will be will be closing up and the majority of their juveniles will already be packed away until next year. 20 points for each Pundit heard complaining about why the season rolls to a close with a "Whimper". 10 points if they add that a wet Doncaster Racecourse is no place to close a season with an appropriate flourish either.
But, that is the negative view and the highlights of the season will always be events that go on above a background of the day-to-day racing. Why put a lot of money into a big splash finish in November when the ground and weather are likely to be bad? Ending the season earlier does not feel like the right answer either and what would the reasoning be? 50 points for any cogent explanation of plan which might improve things. Minus 10 for each hand waving dismissal of how things are without offering an alternative.
And anyway, in the spirit of the articles following racing is about finding interest at all levels and the final week still has items to try to spot. The Newmarket meeting on the penultimate weekend feature three interesting races with Listed events at 6f & 8f for the fillies and the 10f Zetland Stakes as a conditions event. The last of these used to be Listed level but the 10f proved too much to produce fields of enough quality with the required regularity.
All three of these events have fields that are made up of runners who will prove to be handicappers of some sort in their continuing careers. The prestige many earn for a win or a place will look bogus as the form quality unfolds at 3yo. But, occasionally there will be high class horses in and the task is to spot the better ones from the handicappers. In the case of the Zetland Stakes the rate is about 2 better ones in the last 10 runnings. Twice Over managed to win it and Darley Sun was unplaced. The 2011 winner Mojave looks above the average winner in quality terms and 10 points if he goes on to Listed level and 20 points for a Group win. Minus 10, as ever with Godolphin, if he just disappears. 50 points for a classy looking win in 2012.
Similarly thin pickings overall in the 6f Bosra Sham Stakes but a later Group 1 winner in Tante Rose won back in 2002 so it is possible. The 8f Montrose Stakes has a better record and was won by Blue Bunting in 2010 on the way to being a Classic winner at 3yo. Spotlight won in 2003 and went on to Grade 2 success in the US, whatever that was worth given the quality of their turf events. The 2005 victress Rajeem went on to win a Group 1 over 8f at 3yo on her final run. The variability in quality shows up with the winner the following year managing one win at 3yo in a handicap off OR84. Back on track in 2009 with Timepiece winning and finding a way to win a Group 1 at 4yo. A very good record given the late timing of the race in the season and the difference between the 6f & 8f events showing up again. 20 points in 2012 for a high class winner from the right sort of owner bred background.
The final week sees the last set of turf maidens runs and few things to look for. 30 points for a full set of winners on all types of runs. Debut winners, second run and fourth runs wins and an eighth time out or later runner. The last type likely to be at a Northern track by a runner rated around OR64. 5 points for each rating point below that for the win.
In these fields there will be a lot of horses just there for a run and those padding out their CV before going into handicaps. One subset are the "..just giving him a run so he has something to think about over the winter..." type. 20 points for each use of that phrase and 100 points if the interviewer ever picks him up on it. Do they really think the horse is going to be stood idly in December pondering on what all that was about? 10 points for the most obvious example of a day-tripper from each race.
On the final day at Doncaster 25 points for a John Gosden winner in the maiden. The same if a Jamie Osborne horse wins the Nursery or 10 points if it is Tim Easterby. 50 points if one of the juvenile races makes a difference in the standings in the jockey's championship which has been the real highlight of the last day in recent years.
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The close of the Turf Season used to mean the finish of the 2yos running until the following March. With the advent of the All-Weather racing in 1989 the opportunities to run juveniles extended to the end of the year and until they 'disappear' at midnight on December the 31st. But, the all-weather events are a different country with less runners and on a small set of courses. A small sub-set of trainers represented and mostly poor quality racing and a chance for some lesser, or just plain moderate, trainers to get some wins. Not an appealing prospect and there must be better things to do with one's time than assessing nurseries full of maidens with the topweight on a dubious OR60. Even if '2yo Racing' is your thing.
More valuable to assess the turf season and look for patterns and development that might pay off next year. Racing is kind to pundits and analysts in many ways and one is that there is always another race just about to start. You can avoid going back to analyse where you are going wrong with that excuse. But, it is the wrong approach and the Closed System means you can learn a lot about the 'Shape' of things to come, and the boundaries that apply by looking back. Each season is still going to throw up new challenges but will no be totally new. Perhaps start the review by seeing how far off the mark the sections in the trilogy were. Closer to 100 than Zero, hopefully.
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