No 2yo race until a maiden and a seller at Bath on Wednesday. This space
will be used for some thoughts on Saturday's two races and on the season
so far. The five that ran at Lingfield looked a low quality group in paddock
review and the winning form given an [Est] of only 27.
The disappointment started early when Shadow
Bay came into the pre-parade ring. The phrase 'small wimp' pops into
the mind. Mick Channon has run some good ones at the opening Doncaster
meeting over the years including Mac Love who finished a promising fourth
in the Brocklesby. This might have suggested Shadow Bay was likely to be
an OR75+ rater but on looks here he's more the Hephaestus/Goose Green end
of the market of the trainer's early runners. A 65 rater downhill, with
a bit of a gale behind him. But, he isn't able to get anywhere near that
level at present because he's such a scared, mentally young, mouse. Clinging
to his handler.
If you watch the VT of the Brocklesby you'll see him curl up after halfway
when he had a usable position and the jockey look down as he tries to get
some response. Nothing happens and the jockey gives up. He attracts some
support here in a market with a weak favourite but runs the same way. Starts
well and gets into a line-of-four contest for the lead. He's 3 off the
rail so sensibly the jockey drops him in. Then, it happens again. The pace
starts quicken on the downhill section and the jockey is animated in asking
for some response but he just drifts away and loses ground. It looks like
he's 'mentally backed out of it' both times when the going got a little
tougher. Not a 70+ rater anyway and needs to grow up to reach the potential
Next it's the filly Grand
Plan who had finished second at the course a few days ago and it's
deja vu, all over again. Another small, underpowered one and mentally young
and not forward in condition. You would think she was running again because
she'll struggle to win. Having seen her the rating given for the Percolator
race she placed in feels too high. She starts as odds-on favourite and
drifts to odds-against unsurprisingly. Travels well enough in the race
behind and even more limited front-runner but can't get past him in the
straight. At the furlong pole she either fades or packs it in 'Shadow Bay'
style for a terrifically limp 4th place. Another 60s kind of thing. When
is Osborne going to show us a better one?
Then we have First
Of Fifth and at least there is something positive to say. He cost 5,000gns
so there isn't much of him of course but he's neatly put together and well
balanced. On the real positive side he's a good, active mover and he shows
that off by looking like he's mentally mature and here to do business.
Not clinging to the lad but pulling forward and showing some spark.
That's all very well but the horse still needs to know what's expected
from it to compete. He gets out of the stalls ok but needs driving along
to pick up and loses 5 lengths as the others go off in a line-of-four.
They aren't very good so he manages to close on them downhill and pick
off the shirksome Shadow Bay. He continues that progress as the leaders
stall to various extents and battles to the finish with the experienced
Gone Hunting who has 7lbs less with his apprentice aboard.
A good effort and believable he can rate just 70+ and win something early.
Size and lack of scope will catch him out after that. A positive for his
trainer in getting a usable cheap one but he still hasn't proved he can
produce one ready to win FTO despite the effort here. Getting the horse
competent is part of the readiness and pick-up bumbling ("What Me?, Now?",
"Yes, YOU....") cost the debut win here. If First Of Fifth had been
trained by David Evans he would have won this by 3 lengths.
So, you are in a bit of downside mood and Mr Evans' Smalljohn
approaches. The word 'Pony' rises up and the thought of the language you
might use if they wheeled that out for you to ride (despite the fact he
can move fast enough to scare you to death around Lingfield's bend unless
you are a pretty competent rider. There was pony racing for the kids after
racing on the day and one suggestion was that this one had got here early.
Putting that aside he's a 50s rater at best surely. He seemed to run quite
well given his lack of, err.., presence and led until fading into the final
furlong. Not one to follow and more to use as a marker to keep the form
You really can't face betting on these and looking at Gone
Hunting you think well at least he has got some muscle compared to most
here. You didn't like him at Kempton in the group for that race but in
this quintet he looks ok and stands out at the best muscled. He shortens
in the betting and just manages to scrape home while looking limited and
needing the 7lbs relief in weight to hold off a horse who gave him a 5
length headstart. Mr Turner has now won with both the 2yos he has for Mick
Easterby so it's 'job done' and very hard to see how this one is going
to win anything else until dropped to claimers.
The Time for the race was another notable point. Go back five years and
getting under 60 seconds for 5 furlongs was normally an indicator of a
better 2yo, say a 75+ or 80+ one. Even 3 years ago it normally indicated
a precocious 70+ type at least. Going under 60 seconds doesn't mean that
any more and even a low quality event like this went in 59.94s. First Of
Fifth must have got close to it with his slow start. There was a Listed
race on the card and that often means they soup the track up for the day.
In general seem the early season times can be quicker than those in midsummer.
The day before the newcomer filly Kate The Great had gone 0.2s faster carrying
5lbs more than Gone Hunting (12lbs more with the apprentices 7lbs included).
More evidence that this was a probably a weak race. When Percolator had
comfortably beaten Grand Plan earlier in the week she only managed 60.47s
and was carrying 10lbs less than Kate The Great. Which suggests that that
race was weak and Grand Plan perhaps ran close to her form for 3.5 furlongs
here before broken by the extra pace in a slightly faster race. Follow
that through and Percolator, while visually impressive in a comfortable
wins, was made to look better by weak opposition in a slowish time. That
race is perhaps over-rated at 34.
The Newcastle Novice race is a good way to briefly consider the
strength of this year's Brocklesby on the evidence that we have since the
first, third & fourth all came from the Doncaster event. Before that
a brief aside to comment again on the good job that trainer Linda Stubbs
does with the limited number of 2yos they get. Here's another 2yo winner
with one that cost 2,500 guineas. Look at this - Table
- and you'll see that they operate at the bargain basement end of 2yo purchases.
It also shows, if you add in Saxford, that they have a record of 6 juvenile
winners from 10 runners that cost 5,000gns or less int he last 4 years.
Terrific stuff, and only two of the wins in sellers. [Could you nip round
to Nigel Tinkler's and explain how it's done].
If you look at this - Table
- (only 3 days too late but let's call it learning from mistakes and not
after-timing) and you'll see they bring their horses to a STO peak when
they get most of the wins and often a big profit. Put all of that together
with the knowledge of how Saxford kept going quite well in the Brocklesby
off a bad trip on the wrong side of the course and his 6/1 STO win seems
Now, if you take the "Win=Improved Form" & "Winners from Race=Form
Franked" digital view of looking back at races you'll probably think the
Brocklesby is shaping up to look at least average quality and perhaps better.
A reader of the site pointed the 'Racing Post' Spotlight for the Newcastle
race out to B2yoR which began "Aside from the winner Sally's Dilemma, who
clearly did not give her running when turned over at odds-on, the signs
are that the Brocklesby was up to recent standard..". The Spotlight doesn't
actually define what the 'recent 'standard' is which is a problem because
the 2005 & 2007 races were different shapes to each other and the farcically
weak 2006 version nothing at all like either of the other two. We need
to look beyond the headline view to try to get at the actual quality that
is being shown and how good the individual horses are.
The Newcastle Novice race is misleading and cannot be used to 'Frank' or
'Unfrank' the form because of the lack of viable competition. The three
horses from the Brocklesby finished in roughly the same places they did
at Doncaster, relative to each other, if you factor in the improvement
Saxford had to STO for trainer methods and his disadvantaged run FTO and
Knavesmire's likely readiness for her debut. On VT pictures Channon's Raimond
Ridge looked a lower 70s rater rather than the 80+ type the trainer normally
runs at Folkestone and here in early season. He didn't compete with any
great promise at Folkestone but was a strongish second here.
The record of runners from the Brocklesby reads two wins - Saxford at Newcastle
in a thin race and Bad Beat in what was probably a rotten race at Southwell.
The winner has been well beaten by a more precocious filly, the fifth couldn't
beat a Hannon debut filly at Folkestone (although it's possible she is
a better type), Shadow Bay failed at Lingfield & Amosite ran 4th in
the weak race won by Percolator at Lingfield (see above). If we stop trying
to think in 'Franking terms' and trying to use presumed race quality to
identify how good the horses are the earlier review of the race still stands.
The 2nd & 6th showed real promise and are worth following. The others
through to Saxford aren't good (says 50-60s raters) and Saxford may not
be much more than that. There will be odd better types hidden in the ruck
and the better profiled ones still most likely to win at 70+ level (unlike
the low quality wins for Bad Beat & Saxford).
In general terms it hasn't felt like a strong start to the season and the
quality of performances has been low as expected. The one outstanding effort
has been by She's A Shaw Thing at Nottingham and it's possible Sally's
Dilemma improved a little in chasing her home. The first of those fillies
is probably pretty close to what she is capable of already (say a B2yoR
Class Level around 60) and isn't a longer term Group race performer. Hannon's
Doughnut is probably an OR85 type at least and probably not up to Cake's
standard (for the same sire/trainer/owner combo) from 2007.
In the first 12 races of 2007 we saw the following make their debuts :-
Fat Boy - Listed race winner (Asaint Needs Brass won the equivalent
race in 2008)
Dubai Princess - Dual winner, Listed placed, 6th in the Group 1
Cheveley Park (and she looked good on debut, Jamie Osborne hasn't shown
up anything like her yet).
Vhujon - Dual winner (the equivalent of She's A Shaw Thing
Fred's Lad - Conditions race winner
Kylayne - Dual, conditions level winner, Close 5th in a fillies'
Group 3 (would She's A Shaw Thing or Percolator be as good?)
Silver Guest - maiden during the season but 5th in the Group 3 Norfolk
Stakes at Royal Ascot (the equivalent this year would be Raimond Ridge
who hasn't looked that promising on his first two runs
Group Therapy & Cee Bargara = both dual winners
for Jamie Osborne & the second of those 6th in the Coventry Stakes.
With an earlier start in 2008 it isn't obvious we have seen that range
of quality in the first 12 races this year and the performances needed
to win many of the races pretty low. Other than Doughnut & She's A
Shaw Thing it's possible one of the unusual debut wins for Michael Bell
this week might be better types. Neither beat strong fields and both were
well forward in condition compared to the average this year which makes
it a little difficult to tell. Neither looked higher class as types and
Bahamian Babe more a precocious speedster who tops out in a conditions
race like the Lily Agnes before finding anything else a stretch in a normally
Anyway, on Wednesday we move on to the race at Bath that gave us Vhujon
& Group Therapy in 2007. It's made more interesting by the fact that
the Brocklesby 4th Lagan Handout takes part. If you think the Brocklesby
is up to the 'usual standard' and Knavesmire is a cracking physical type
who ran a blinder to frank the form at Newcastle you'll perhaps expect
it to win comfortably. If the field is as limited as the ones we have seen
so far (no Vhujons or even Concertmasters) might he wangle a win? Let's
have a look at that Profile.....