The 'Aubigny Stakes' at Goodwood last week was a classic example of how
weak some of the juvenile Listed races can be and the places a lottery
among average types, or worse. The field for the fillies' event at York
(the 'Marygate Stakes') is actually a little better and with eight previous
winners and an Irish raider represents a perfectly decent Liested level
event given the early timing. The 'Class Ladder' for the race is a little
speculative because B2yoR has ponly seen Dubai Princess and Presto Levanter
(as a yearling) live and reviewed them. We'll come to that presently but
a little scene setting first.
The thirty Listed races in 2006 where given B2yoR ratings that ranged from
93 down to 62 with the median in the high 70s. This gives us a useful scale
to match the competitors for this race against. Each year a weak Listed
race may require a performance which wouldn't grace an average maiden to
win and that is what the lower 62 rating shows. Every time you hear a pundit
or analyst talking about 'Listed Class' it is pretty meaningless since
the performances in these races range from ordinary maiden right up to
some of the best efforts of the season. In this event it would be good
to see at least one of the fillies rate above 75 and set at least an average
level for a Listed event. In 2006 Gilded ran to a level of 75 in winning
on her fifth outing and that was below her previous best of 78. She peaked
at a low level 81 given that she was the Queen Mary victress. So a performance
of that level here would indicate a filly who would go on to compete well
enough in an ordinary Queen Mary.
The table below gives a summary of how the Listed race runners for some
of the trainers represented have fared in the last three seasons.
The interesting points include how relatively successful Richard Hannon
is and how he manages to select the right runner from his large string
for many of the races. Getting his 2yos ready early in the season assists
with this and also the consistent approach which ensures ability is identified
and brought through. This is why looking at which races he runs his 2yos
in on debut can be indicative of what standard they are.
Mick Channon has a different approach to some extent and he is a trainer
who knows that the perceived 'step up in class' to Listed races (and to
Group races to some extent) can be minimal and sometimes non-existant.
Each year he gets Group wins and places (especially abroad, including in
Ireland) with horses we know are below that level here. When they return
to run in Britain they wont have suddenly become Group winner class and
some commentators seem to find this baffling in that if they have won a
German Group 2 why can't they compete at Group 3 level here. As if they
disappear into a phone booth on their way to Germany to become 'Group Horse'
and then turn back into just useful on the way back here. If you forget
about the labels the horse is running to a similar standard everywhere
but the competition isn't a similar standard despite the labels.
The other interesting point is that Tim Easterby's record hold up quite
well against the big stables listed despite the fact his overall record
is well below theirs. For a stable with a 2yo emphasis his returns in recent
years have been disappointing. But he does seem to target the right sorts
at Listed races and in particular the best of his early fillies each year.
Which brings us to the Class Ladder for the race.
Liberty Belle has been left
off because she makes her debut and on profile should have next to no chance.
Her trainer had an entry in the first Listed race of the year that didn't
run and we need to see what his method is in starting horses in Listed
races. The Irish winner Shivering
has also been left out. Her trainer Tommy Stack has only had two juvenile
runners in Britain in recent years that have both been unplaced in Group
races at Ascot. It is difficult to judge whether he brings the appropriate
level of horse over for the races on his limited record.
At the top of the ladder is Janina who was a comfortable winner on debut
and has the profile to improve further and hopefully better a 75 level
here. It is interesting that her trainer runs her here rather than Mookhlesa
who was also a debut winner at 5f and runs for the same owner. She is likely
to be favourite and not with much value and the same is likely to be true
of Dubai Princess. She won the first race of the season clearly and in
a fast time. The efforts of the horses who were around 4 lengths behind
her that day subsequently have not really enhanced the view of the form
and the time owed a lot to a fast track and a tailwind. She looks a small
and precocious type who will probably be able to rate over 70 but be vulnerable
to fillies with a bit more size and class.
Richard Hannon won the race last year with a filly who had won the Salisbury
conditions race and makes things a bit more difficult ball by not running
who won this year's version but his surprise runner-up in the race instead
- Presto Levanter. B2yoR has very fond memories of her dam steaming up
the stands' rail at Newbury to win the Supersprint but her daughter didn't
look that hot at the sales and appears to have developed well. However,
she is another likely to be at a non-value price and will porbably come
up short of winning.
While going through the Class Ladder the most interesting filly at the
likely prices will be Cristal Clear and her trainer's record in Listed
events with early fillies a bonus. She looked the bigger type with scope
on debut and if you look at the colts she beat comfortably that day they
have enhanced her profile unlike the crew behind Dubai Princess. When you
look into her pedigree it is a good story as well. Her dam was an owner
bred from a useful American family and ran in Irish Group races for Dermot
Weld after winning her maiden. She produced a good 2yo who placed in the
Group 1 Phoenix Stakes before things tailed off (as they often do for broodmares)
with just minor winners running for Mr Weld. But the 'class' is still there
and she may still produce a useful one in later life.
In summary a solid race at the level and for the time of year and with
Janina top on profile but not having been reviewed so not one to take a
short price about. Cristal Clear appeals as the most intersting opponent
at the prices and with a lot of positives in her profile.
The Newbury Fillies' Conditions race is also over 5f but has an
entirely different character. Before the introduction of the Marygate race
this event would surely have seen at least one of the previous winning
fillies in it. Instead we have just one of the nine with experience and
drifted notably in the betting in a similar event and showed inexpereince
in the race. Debut runners for Stan Moore usually show a little more FTO
if they have ability but it may not require much of a performance to win
here if the newcomers don't include a good one.
Last year's race was a farce with the 6 runners going very slowly and finishing
in a heap. The six included four from Mick Channon and none were very good.
Compare that event to the list of previous winners who already had good
form coming into the race - Flashy Wings (2005, STO and good Maiden winner
at Newmarket. Later Group 2 winner), Siena Gold (2004, STO, good maiden
winner at Newmarket. Supersprint winner), La Cucaracha (2003, 5 length
winner in Leicester maiden, older Group 1 winner) & Rag Top (Warwick
maiden winner on debut, later Group 3 winners). So before last year the
winners had all won on debut prior to this race and went on to win important
This year's race could be similar to last year and has a good sprinkling
of owner breds who typically try their luck in better races to try to enhance
their breeding CV. The last filly before 2006's egg-and-spoon affair to
win on debut was Queens Logic in 2001 for the combination of Mick Channon
and Jaber Abdullah (also had the second in 2002 together with nwcomer Queens
Victory & won it with Flashy Wings). A key part of this year's race
will clearly therefore be what you make of Nijoom
Dubai for the pair and with 'eyecatching' booking of J. Spencer. Now,
repetition is good for learning, so all together, Mr Abdullah has a privileged
position with the yard and often gets relatively cheap fillies passed on
to him that have ability.
She cost a trifling 19,000 guineas at the sales which is pin money these
days. But it is a little more complicated than that and the Channon 'Inner
Circle' is at work. She was bred by Channon's Norman Court Stud and bought
by his right hand woman at the sales - Gill Richardson. Mr Abdullah is
connected in some way to the Maktoum family and that is presumably where
the use of sire Noverre comes in rather than a Channon stallion like Fraam
or Hunting Lion. So, it isn't clear when this one was passed on tot he
owner (perhaps it was his already). Whatever, she was unexciting at the
sales and got a report which would scrape average on a good day. If she's
developed to be a useful one then the hype should be apparent tomorrow
and she'll be at a short SP and go close to winning.
None of the others on profile make a good case to put up a strong debut
tomorrow and it may well need only a run in the low 50s to win which several
would aspire to. Pantherii runs
for a trainer who has his debut runners pretty ready but she also got a
moderate to average sales report but should probably place in this group.
The one that makes most appeal is Polar
Circle from Peter Chapple-Hyam although his debut runs are less well
forward these days. But in a race which may not take much winning a normal
debut may well be enough although the standard is low enough that a surprise
is not off the agenda.
In summary a difficult race to be confident about because of the lack of
previous form and lowish profile ratings of the runners. It may well turn
out to be a Class 3 race which has limited future relevance unless there
is a useful filly hidden away. Nijoom Dubai didn't look to be that one
at the sales and would need to have developed very well to be a Mick/Jaber
special. Pantherii is the type that Mr Cole usually gets to make a place
without winning and Brian Meehan works hard for Ballymacoll Stud but a
normal debut for him would leave Masada short of placing. Which leaves
Polar Circle as a solid alternative froma reliable trainer and with a good