British 2yo Racing - 2008 Season
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Racing Review - April 7th 
Races :-
  • None until Wednesday 9th

  •   April 7th Thoughts : 
    • 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 he has.
    • 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 level down.
    • 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 normal.
    • 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 this year)
      • 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 competitive year.
    • 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.....

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