If you believe in Paddock Review then you like your horses to look like
they perform, the better types should look the part and the seller and
banded runners should look like rabbits. In 2yo maiden races size will
matter and if there are two similarly set-up 2yos you'll do better backing
the bigger one in the long term. There isn't much worse than tipping or
backing a horse unseen on the basis of the form, pedigree, etc. and then
seeing it in the flesh for the first time and realising this is going to
be embarrasing because it is plain too small and limited. The correct view
can then be taken of the form just on seeing that one horse which is one
way that Paddock Review can help to put races into the proper context.
The maiden at Windsor on Monday gave a good example of how opportunities
will arise to bypass all that hard work in form analysis, supposed sire
ground preferences and the like. In a moderate looking race three of the
fillies had shown some promise in previous races with a 6th in a Glorious
Goodwood maiden for one and places in minor maidens for the others. If
you hadn't seen them the form wasn't easy to equate and with no debut runner
fancied these three were the only ones at less than 16/1 with the Goodwood form,
unsurprisingly taken at face value as 'must be some good' and supplied
the 11/10f although she had finished an unthreatening 6th.
Put all of that preamble to one side and look at the following four pictures
of those three fillies plus the 16/1 winner. Which of these four would
you want to put your money on if you believe size matters and you don't
like punting on small ones? Can you spot the duff, small 11/10f and the
strapping 16/1 clear winner? [Answer tomorrow]
Admit it, you can almost feel the 'But' coming after the set-up. But, it
isn't quite that simple, of course, otherwise you could just take a tape
measure and a set of scales to the course and become a millionaire. Matters
such as biomechanical efficiency, cardiovascular performance come into
the equation and the difference made by how much a horse 'wants it' should
never be underestimated. But, this isn't a research project and a few simple
rules will get you 80%+ of the way there and the science can be left to
to the exponential input for lessening returns part of the graph.
There will always be exceptions and B2yoR has lost count of the number
of times people have started a conversation on the "But winners come in
all sizes..", "What about Northern Dancer/Mill Reef [insert your own favourite,
smaller, top class runner to taste]...." lines. Well, yes, there are exceptions
but you have to assume that they have something unusual (most probably
close to perfectly efficient movement as part of their superior athleticism
for the top class ones). Winners come in all sizes because we define races
which allow all sizes to win because we want competitive racing. If you
rope off a lot of rabbits in their own race you'll get small winners but
wont have proved or disproved anything.
This year's Royal Ascot meeting gave a classic example with the field for
one of the top Group sprint races. The field featured a lot of strapping
horses and imposing athletes as you would expect. One of the Australian
runners - Bentley's Biscuit - was a strapping lad and straight out of central
casting (finished last). B2yoR overheard one paddock judge say 'who's that
little rat...' as Miss Andretti walked by and while she wasn't quite that
bad she was almost certainly the smallest in the whole field and relatively
lightly built. She won and as a Paddock Reviewer you just have to accept
that life isn't always about easy races like the Windsor one. When a horse
like Miss Andretti has demonstrated she can do it you have to believe it
and put it down to experience and try to see what she has which makes her
What brought all that on? Thinking about the Lowther field is the answer.
In a set of mostly smaller types one of the least imposing will be Visit.
She demonstrated unsual ability on her debut when finishing second in a
good maiden and at a time in the season when the Stoute trained FTOs can
be pretty ropey. On the TV pictures of that debut the last furlong run
she made was truly eyecatching but it also showed her to be on the small
side. She was made favourite for the Group 3 Princess Margaret Stakes on
her next run and was one of the smallest in the review. But, the vibes
all said that she had something different and she duly showed it by dispalying
that strong finish again.
Lack of size will catch up with her somewhere against a bigger type but
as a 2yo filly she's less likely to run into a strapping, masculine
'Peeping Fawn'. On what she's shown with an unpressed win LTO she sets
a good standard for the Lowther but is unlikely to be value. Realistically,
there are only three others with the Class potential to challenge her.
One is clearly You'resothrilling although her penalty makes it difficult
for her and she has looked less of a speed type. Fleeting Spirit is the
opposite and has good 5f speed and her Molecomb win was boosted by Captain
Gerrard yesterday (and it will be fascinating to see how her runner-up
Kingsgate Native does in the Nunthorpe against the best older sprinters).
She seems likely to set the race up and be the marker for the closers like
Visit and You'resothrilling to aim for.
Of those three it is likely to be a good finish between Visit and Fleeting
Spirit and if Visit is as good as the vibes suggest then she ought to find
a way to to get past the other filly in the final furlong. The fourth filly
is likely to be a good each-way alternative to the other three class types.
Nahoodh has a bit more size than Visit and is a similar, taller but lightly
made type by the first season Clodovil to Cristal Clear. She represents
the trainer and owner that have won the race twice in recent seasons and
ran much better last time than her third placing suggests. She got held
up as the race quickened in what has been shown to be a good-class maiden
last time and made very good progress against the others in the last furlong
given the shape of the race. If something is going to get amongst the three,
proven, Group winners then she is the strongest candidate.