The start of a new 2yo season and the return of a welcome pice of tradition
with a large field for the Brocklesby, on soft ground, at Doncaster. Before
some thoughts on the field for that race it is necessary to get the general
admin out of the way. The format of the Previews for this year will be
slightly different and will include a number of regular items which should
continue throughout the season. The written summaries will be subject to
the usual caveat about 'as time permits'.
The regular items will be :-
Automated 'Virtual Paddocks' for the day's races in a similar format to
that already used on the site for the sample 2yo runners for sires. This
will present thumbnails of pictures of runners in each race where available.
Which will mean that those wishing to compare runners in a race will not
have to go to each horse's individual page to find the picture links.
FTO P&L Qualifiers - these will be presented in the table below the
written summary area alongside the links to the Virtual Paddocks. There
will also, shortly, be a link to the Tracking Page for the season. The
split between owner JC Fretwell and his employed trainer - EJ O'Neill -
means that Mr O'Neill will no longer be at the Averham Park stables and
will not be training any of the Fretwell horses. Which means that he will
be removed from the 'All Debuts' P&L tracking. If a replacement
is identified the article introducing the tracking will be updated and
noted in the previews. [In general the position of salaried trainer for
wealthy businessman can be a somewhat fraught. Football Agent Willie Mackay
is already on his third trainer in 18 months (S. Parr the recent incumbent),
Stan Moore split with Jim Hay over the Winter & Gerard Butler has moved
on from Erik Penser's yard at Compton in Oxfordshire.]
Ratings Tables - at the bottom of this Preview is the first example of
these tables. The plan is that there will be one per race throughout the
season and initially they will be within the Preview Page. As the number
of races per day increases (the maximum was 15 in 2007) the tables will
be linked to from the Preview Page to keep the presentation usable and
the limit the page size. At this point it is worth repeating the usual
point that the table isn't a 'Tipping Service' as such. It is used by B2yoR
on-course as a model against which to review the horses, in-the-flesh,
before they run. Adding the on-course corrections would turn the table
into a 'Tipping Service'.
A brief introduction to the 'Ratings Table' is needed but this is a 'Work
In Progress' and the format is likely to develop during the season as more
experience is gained in publishing these numbers. Without going all Media
Friendly and 'Hey, let's get interactive....' on you there is the chance
for readers to suggest changes to the Ratings Tables - different layout,
different categories, etc. For example, when the Nursery races start the
Official Rating (OR) will be included in the table but links to previous
races for horses could be added, a simple highlighting of good or bad race
distances for sires, and so forth.
The initial format is shown below and many of the cells are blank for the
obvious reason that all of the horses are on their first outings so we
do not have numbers for the previous starts. The first column is the horse's
racecard number followed by it's name which links to the individual Horse
Page. The next three columns relate to that days race. The [Prf]
column is the pre-race rating for the horse taking into account trainer
methods, pedigree and other items. B2yoR terms these pre-race ratings the
'Profile' and hence the [Prf] short-form. The next column is the 'Weight
Correction' and shows how much weight, in pounds, that the horse receives
from the topweight. The Brocklesby is a standard weight-for-sex conditions
race with no penalties for previous winners (because there aren't any).
Only the six fillies at the bottom of the card receive weight as the usual
5lbs allowance for females taking on males. The 'Run' shows which
outing this race will be and is set at '1' for all runners as they are
The next three columns cover the best run produced by the horse so far
in the season. B2yoR terms the post-race performance ratings 'Estimates'
and the abbreviation [Est] on the site refers to these ratings.
These can be compared to the pre-race [Prf] ratings to identify
which horses under- or over-performed. The plan is that the Results pages
for the 2008 season will include both the [Prf] & [Est] figures. The
'Best [Est]' column will contain the best rating the horse has achieved
that season and the figure will link to the Results Page for the race.
The next column will note which outing that rating was on. The 'Class Level'
will contain the expected upper figure that the horse can be thought capable
of taking into account debut run circumstances, physical review and other
areas. For the vast majority of 2yos they have a peak figure which they
can achieve and this doesn't develop through the season. Once that Class
level is identified their chances in a race can quickly be assessed depending
upon the likelihood of them performing to that level on that day.
The final three columns present details on the horse's First Time Out (FTO)
outing. The circumstances of the debut run often give useful clues as to
which are the trainer's better 2yos and how much they are likely to develop.
The 'FTO [EST]' column will give the performance rating the horse
achieved on debut and the cell will be colour coded (Green = above average,
Yellow = intermediate, Red = Below average) against the trainer's usual
performance with FTO horses. The Results Pages for the year will contain
the same colour coding. The second figure will be the 'Average' estimate
that a trainer's 2yos at that time of the year woul be expected to reach
FTO. The final '% FTO' column will give the average figure the trainer
recorded in 2007 for debut versus best ratings. This is to try to get a
handle on the old 'They all come on for a run...' formulation from pundits.
Some come on for a run and some don't and some trainers have their runners
within 5% of the best rating FTO and some around 50%. This section is the
one that is likely to develop most during the season and feedback welcomed.
One final bit of background before the Brocklesby - the B2yoR [Estimates]
were reviewed and reworked at the end of the 2007 season as part of the
ongoing development to produce figures which allow items such as [Profiles]
and '% FTO' figures to be produced (properly). This will be summarised
in an article on the 2yo Ratings and comparing the B2yoR approach to the
BHA Handicapper's to be published next week.
To the Brocklesby now. This is a typical field for the race and as such
worth recapping what it is likely to contain. There will probably be 2-3
above average winners who will rate 80+ during the season and the best
of them may get to 90+. The winner is likely to be up to winning again
at Novice level but often struggle at Conditions level with penalties and
prove below Listed/Group class. The better horses tend to make it to the
front four places even if a little underdone in FTO preparation terms.
The midfield from 3rd-4th to, say, 7th-8th will contain a good number of
later winners around the 'average' level probably rating in 65-75 on Official
figures. There will be a long tail of garbage who will be up to competing
at seller level at best and the majority won't win at any grade.
The winner is often a 'surprise' better type who has more ability than
the pedigree or sales price indicates and running for a reliable trainer.
In the recent past these have often been Northern based other than The
Lord's win in 2002 for Bill Turner. The representatives from the bigger
Southern yards are certain later winners but have tended to fill the 2nd-4th
slots in recent years. They have been trumped by the 'surprise' Nothern
packet or a good one from a ready-on-debut trainer (The Lord, Red Power,
for e.g.) but will usually peak and win STO.
Later winners from midfield or worse at above seller level will normally
indicate a trainer who doesn't have his 2yos ready FTO and occasionally
a 'readier' stable who are behind schedule.
Last year's race at Newcastle had a lot of these elements and is useful
to look at the - Result
- to remind ouselves of the finishing order, SPs and later winners (The
ones with 'W' in the "Wnr' column). Being further north it didn't have
the representatives from the bigger southern stables but the rest of the
'Template' is there. The best two horses made the first two via different
routes and proved up to typical class and both ran for reliable trainers
(although not particularly known for early winners and the horse's relative
abilities and precocity must have played a biggish part). We never saw
the third home again but 4-5th were solid average winners.
By 6th place (with the lack of Southern reps) we were into the below average
to garbage range with two exceptions. The typical exception was Tim Easterby's
Hamish Macgonall who looked a bigger solid type at the sales and in the
field before the race. Mr Easterby, with one notable exception, rarely
has debut winners and FTO estimates are below the norm for his type of
trainer. Hamish looked inexperienced and didn't get home up the Newcastle
hill but was probably the 3rd of 4th best horse in the race. The less typical
one was David Evans' Silver Wind in 9th and he proved to be a solid average
winner later. He gave trouble at the stalls after a break STO and his form
picked up later in headgear. We should probably assume he was capable of
making the frame in his Brocklesby but for a lack of willing.
As an aside we can look at the farce of a race in 2006 at Redcar which
passed itself off as the 'Brocklesby' - Result.
One later winner in the field with Channon's second string up to winning
a seller. His first string broke a leg on his fourth outing and was still
a maiden. A joke of a race that got rated 84 by the official handicapper
because that's what the race ought to get rated at. Spoof Master is now
a 4yo and hasn't won a race since that day and competes off an official
rating around 72 which is all he ever was. Try looking at his picture,
thinking about his size and scope to grow and what sort of trainer he was
with as an early 2yo and the shape of his career makes perfect sense.
Which brings us to the 2008 field and a nice shape it has to fit into what's
expected. The three runners from major Southern stables - Mr Melodious,
Shadow Bay & Northern Tour should probably all be successful during
the season although all have 'holes' in their pedigrees. Barry Hills is
usually selective about his early runners and if Mr Melodious is here he
will be capable of winning an ordinary maiden. The trainer tends to have
these early debuts a bit readier than Channon but not fireproof against
a suprise packet. Channon is usually happy with a 2nd to 4th placing but
we can assume Shadow Bay is a solid winner and might well run 13 times
in the season and win at least twice. Paul Cole has a good FTO win record
with better 2yos but a mixed early season record. He won the first 2yo
race of the season in 2003 but in a much weaker race than this and with
Fallon needing to take full charge of the horse to ensure the win. He has
also run similar owner breds in these early races with moderate results.
We should also mention Stan Moore's runner Riflessione here because he
has got the odd early season debut win and there is enough in his pedigree
to believe he can win something at 2yo. However, the debut wins have tended
to be by slightly better types in weaker races and that isn't likely to
be the story here.
We don't have a complete ready-on-debut trainer these days with Bryan McMahon
retired (but presumably still sticking his oar into the Fretwell/O'Neill
interface as Mr Fretwell's 'advisor'). The two closest examples we have
are David Evans and Bill Turner who both figure in the 'Long Shot' P&L
tracking. Last year Bill Turner's early debuts were well behind his normal
level of readiness and took time to come to form. Evans was closer to his
usual and got his usual early debut winner but, as noted above, his Brocklesby
runner was below his expected level. Evans runs the filly Calypso Bay who
is an expensive purchase for him and a certain later winner and should
compete well here. Bill Turner had two entered for the race and both were
owned by trainer Mick Easterby and runs the filly Sally's Dilemma who was
purchased by Easterby. She has a usable 2yo sprint pedigree but looks short
of the required class overall but should be a reasonable indicator of how
ready the Turner juveniles are in 2008.
The Northern trainers include typical representatives including another
expensive son of Kyllachy - Olympic Dream - for Richard Fahey who won the
race last year with a similar type. In general his early 5f debuts don't
compete for the win and the FTO successes come along from late May. His
runner here is bound to be well forward in the market but may be moderate
value although he has the highest Profile rating. Tim Easterby runs Diamond
Blade who got the note "likeable, little chap.." in his sales notes and
a certain 70ish winner but not with the class needed to compete for the
win off his trainer's normal methods. More a 5th-7th and compete STO type.
Which leaves the qustion of where the surprise package might be. David
Nicholls provided one of them last year with the 2,000 guines purchase
Fol Hollow but Nchike is by a dreadful sire although a solid dam and on
balance more likely to be a weak one than a surprise. Stuart Parr's predecessor-but-one
introduced a later winner for Willie Mackay in the 2007 race but, while
relatively expensive, Doncaster Rover doesn't really have a 5f pedigree and Mr Parr doesn't
have a ready early profile. Eric Alston runs a notably expensive one for
him with the filly Ballarina but is more of a develop-with-racing trainer.
Of more interest would be Linda Stubbs who are a reliable stable and have
supplied the surprise in recent seasons with Next Time Around. In general
their earliest runners compete well and include the better 2yos. However,
their runner here Saxford cost pretty much nothing at the sales and would
be stretching the surprise a bit far.
In summary a good edition of the race on it's return to Doncaster
and showing a nice shape to the contenders. You could split the field into
the following categories :-
Possible winners - Olympic Dream, Shadow Bay (solid profile) & Mr Melodious.
Possible long shots in Calypso Dream & Saxford.
3rd - Midfield & later winners - Diamond Blade, Doncaster Rover, Northern
Tour, Ballarina, Riflessione & Sally's Dilemma (a longish list taken
with the four above and probable some will prove poor). A win for one of
the three Northern trained unlikely.
Midfield +, unlikely later winners through to garbage - Nchike, Knavesmire,
Multi Tasker, Igoyougo, Richo, Bethie, Bad Beat, Lagan Handout, Amosite
& Another Luke. [These would be real surprise packets but note Richo
runs for new trainer DH Brown].