An interesting Class 4 maiden at Leicester and the 2007 race provides
a text-book example of how the results of these maiden races can be misleading
unless 'read' with some extra knowledge which wont be on the page. Reading
the Result as
weights carried and lengths beaten and applying that as a fair reflection
of the relative merits would have had you falling into a number of traps
during the year.
The winner was Bill Turner's filly Only In Jest who had been running since
early season. His 2yos were not in good condition in early season and he
had his first winner of 2007 two days previously on May 20th. Only In Jest
looked in burstingly good condition on the day and it wouldn't have been
possible to have her in better form. She added racecraft and the trainer
added a 5lb apprentice to tip things further her way and she won well.
But, as that peak condition in May quickly passed she hardly beat a horse
in later runs and is currently running moderately of the OR60s level her
physical type always said she was right from Sales Review day. The 'Day
in May' was her finest point of her career and she beat later Listed &
Group 2 winners - but without rating above OR70.
Just like this season Peter Chapple-Hyam was into a spell of introducing
a batch of better type in mid to late May including for the art dealing
Greens. Western Art was his fourth runner of the season and the previous
three had all won on debut. Two had won 3-4 days prior and looked good
types in doing it. Given all that and the rumours of how good this one
was the SP of 11/8f wasn't that short. In Paddock Review he was pretty
small although deep bodied and compact. He didn't look especially ready
or knowing. He ran well but without looking like a better type and couldn't
deal with Only In Jest at her peak and receiving 10lbs. He won a suspect
Listed race next time with a typical bit of hanging around at the back
and picking up the pieces as the leaders fold on Sandown's stiff 5f course.
He was entered for the Group 2 6f Richmond Stakes but didn't run and it
will be interesting to see how good he really is at 3yo.
In third was a 3TO runner for Rod Millman who developed with racing. He
won his next two runs and along with Western Art & Hatta Fort's efforts
would have you a little baffled as to how they all got beaten by Only In
Jest. Fourth was the small and neat sprinter Mazzanti for trainer Kevin
Ryan. Absolutely typical of the neat type he has so many of. He ran well
enough but looked ordinary in Paddock Review and his lack of size an issue.
He won his maiden in the North third time before struggling in better races.
He was sold off at the end of the year and is currently in Serbia and probably
looking quite good there.
The fifth home was the best type in Review with Mick Channon's Hatta Fort
on debut (another example of the better Mid-May debut for the Maktoum's
that we are seeing presently in 2008 in places). The review that came back
on the day that he was too wound up and mentally unfocussed to run to his
best and would have to win on raw ability if he did. Since he won his Group
race over 7f he wasn't in precisely the right spot over 5f on debut although
Channon, like Hannon, will run horses at that distance that most trainer's
would not. He ran as you would expect and looked eyecatching staying on
late but putting up a below OR70s performance.
Just behind you had Luca Cumani's Dome Rock and the Paddock Review was
negative about him saying he had gone backwards a lot since the yearling
sales and was too light and underpowered now. He struggled in maidens and
nurseries and couldn't win a claimer on his 6th try. But he wasn't far
behind the later good ones and looked promising enough if you just read
the form book. A long way behind him was the garbage and in the gap a 100/1
shot on debut called Gambling Jack that didn't run again at 2yo.
So, in retrospect we can see that the mix of readiness, professionalism
and experience allowed the winner and third to get amongst the better types
who were well below their final ratings FTO. Take those better horses off
the form book page and just read Dome Rock & the rest as having been
beaten comfortably by Only In Jest & Brassini and you had a good indication
of their real ability. Mazzanti had made just an ok debut and turned out
just to be an ordinary Northern maiden winner. With the Paddock view on
the day and some knowledge of how trainers go about things the majority
of that story could be 'seen' at the time. If you just looked at the form
book two weeks later there would be plenty of opportunity to go wrong.
This year's race brings a smaller field but a number of the same elements
as the 2007 edition. The best place to start is with Brian Meehan's Light
The Fire who made his debut in an Ascot conditions race on soft ground.
He didn't look out of place in Paddock Review (at 95,000gns he shouldn't
have done) and a strong little sprinter. Given the moderate nature of most
of the trainer's debuts he ran well enough keeping up with the experienced
horses and even making a bit of ground after halfway before getting tired.
The trainer hadn't had a 2yo winner when this preview was written (Zezao
runs at Bath the day before) and it was in Mid-May in 2007 that he had
his first couple of winners with S-3TO horses. Dettori has bothered to
get booked for the ride (perhaps he turn up as well..) so this ought to
be the little above average sprinter type and set a good standard.
Peter Chapple-Hyam is in the same pattern with debuts this year as last.
He ran Great art for the Green family last Friday who finished a good second
in a division of the Newbury 6f maiden. He didn't look that fit and not
in particularly forward condition (many of his runners have looked behind
schedule in condition in 2008). He runs the expensive Sayif for Authorised's
owner on Monday in the Windsor Conditions race. Here he starts out Eagles
Call part owned by the Greens and the Sangsters (another important
owning family in his life seeing as they gave him his chance to train at
Manton back in the early 90s and win 2,000 Guineas for them with Rodrigo
De Triano, and all that...). So, this ought to be a good one and he cost
a lot of money given that the female side of the pedigree is just ordinary.
Using 2007 as a template along with what we have seen so far he ought to
run well but be vulnerable to a readier and fitter opponent.
Michael Jarvis' first debut runner of the year was a poor one but we shouldn't
give up on him producing a couple of debut winners in the next 2 weeks
or so. These debut wins are often at Midlands and Northern courses and
this coincides with slightly easier races to win normally. His runner here
is the owner bred Silent Hero who has a strong pedigree overall
with some high class siblings mixed in with the lightweights. One for Paddock
Review but if he is a better type it would be no surprise to see him competing
for the win.
And what type is Kevin Ryan's Titus Andronicus who has a Jockey
Spencer on board (it's a green 2yo Jamie, not a 4yo with all-the-gears,
please try and ride it a bit closer to the pace, for crying out loud).
Interesting to see whether he's another 'Mazzanti' neat and small clone
or perhaps a bulkier, raw boned, type that sire Danetime can get. The trainer
can get 5f debut winners with better types at this time of year so another
stronger looking debut runner.
Cherry Belle is dealt with below and Richard Hannon runs two sons
of his old mate Redback. Rich Red is still the second string and
is presumably being prepared to try to win a Nursery of OR70ish after a
break into mid-season. He looked usable at that level on debut but at Folkestone
STO his attitude had gone off and he looked too immature to get involved
and ran like that. One to watch for signs of growing up after mid season.
The first string is the FTO runner Lucky Redback who looked usable
at a similar level (somehwere around OR70) at the sales and wouldn't be
up to winning this race on debut.
In summary, a fascinating little field with the likely favourite
coming off a 'just OK' run on soft ground. If Light The Fire snaps into
shape STO (worth checking how Zezao went at Bath) he could win comfortably
but there is some element of 'If' there. If he doesn't there are 2.5 others
who could be stronger debuts and possible winners.