Note that the Hamilton race is the first Nursery (handicap for 2yos)
event of the season. The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) handicapper
for 2yos develops his ratings for the 2yos from the start of the season
and after 250+ races it is felt the form is proven enough to base races
on them. Initially the BHA do not publish the exact ratings (on the 0-140
scale) that the juveniles are running off. This is made public after a
few Nurseries are run and the handicapper can assess whether he has placed
his relative handicap (how the 2yos relate to each other to date) in the
right place on 0-140 scale. Horses will have need to run at least three
times and have made the first 4 places in at least one start to get into
these early handicaps.
With 2yo maiden races, for example, the Class of the race is set
by the prize money that is in offer and the BHA set a minimum level to
get into higher classes. Most maidens are in Classe 5-6 and some courses
source extra money to shift some maidens up to higher classes with the
occasional Class 2 event. Because the Official Ratings (ORs) are known
for Nurseries these races can have qualifications for Class Levels based
on ratings as well as minimum Prixe Money.
The Hamilton race is a Class 5 race which, according to the BHA website,
should be limited to horses rated between 56-75. However, the upper limit
for Nurseries appears to be OR85. The Racing Post 2yo handicapper has estimated
what he thinks the topweight in the original declarations ought to be at.
That horse was In Transit who has not been declared and runs in
the Conditions Race at Pontefract the day before. He was estimated as being
an OR84 rater and you presume the "Racing Post" guy is pretty close to
the BHA figures. Both because he works to the same methods and because
he can ask Mr Tester if he needs to.
You might surmise that In Transit running in a Conditions race rather than
the handicap means that Mick Channon thinks he's better than a handicapper.
If you look at his picture and his overall form he's smaller and limited
and by the B2yoR view OR84 is too high for him and he'll struggle to win
off that and needs OR75 or less to be competitive in an average Nursery.
He's a classic example of an expendable 2yo that the trainer runs regularly
and will win a second race by season end through presistence. The Conditions
races often cut up to small fields and are run at modest paces that allow
a runner like In Transit to get a place and a good cut of the prize money
even though he isn't that class. It also gets him a high OR which helps
when if they sell him on later in the season.
The topweight is Sweet Smile with an estimated OR78 and four of the horses
are rated below 70 which is into the moderate band of horses. As a rough
guide if you think of under 70 as lower quality horses, 70-79 as a central
changeover region with moderate to average maiden winner types in and 80+
as the start of the better quality horses then that is a good model to
judge the pictures of physical types against. If you go and look at handicaps,
of any age of horses, with say 50-60 rated horses in one event and 80-90
in another you will be struck by the difference between the groups and
the similarities within the races. With experience of looking at the horses
with their numbers a '79 horse' will look different from a '72 horse' to
you and will explain a lot of what happens in racing. You will also know
when a horse with an OR79 is a actually a '68 horse' and in over it's head
or vice versa and well treated.
The B2yoR [Estimates] are targeted at defining the actual performance
in a race and not 'what seems reasonable' which is what the BHA
handicapper has to do to form a handicap of some sort by this stage. Many
of the horses in the handicap will never have run anywhere near the rating
they have in reality (because of slow race times, for example) so judging
the physical type is an extra clue as to whether the horse has a chance
to compete off the OR mark it has.
Remember also that the average 2yo (some do, some don't, some lag
behind, some grow early, etc) is expected to make around 20lbs (i.e, rating
points) improvement from early April to November. If you run in early season
races (as all the early handicap runners will have done) you need to have
physically improved around the 'average level' through to July to compete
well. If you were and a precocious rabbit who got placed in an early season
race and get a 70 rating for that but have no physical scope to improve
you are in trouble and you might not win until your 3yo year with your
OR down into the 50s after a string of unplaced runs.
The Hamilton race in summary goes something like this. Topweights
in nurseries tend to compete a above the average over the long term. The
main reason for this is that they will include the better horses with some
scope to improve further and be able to win off their handicap marks. They
will more often have shown real form to get to the OR they have.
The bulk of Nursery fields are lumbered with ratings that they have never
run to and many never will so these competitive topweights are well in
against the average horse.
Sweet Smile has a profile of a horse who can show some improvement.
He made his debut over 6f and mixed it near the front for more than four
furlongs before being left behind and looking like a non-stayer. Kevin
Ryan debut runners often travel well before bursting and then come back
to prove solid runners. The three horses that went away from him in the
last furlong in that Haydock debut were 3rd in a Group 3 at Royal Ascot
(Danidh Dubai), 2nd in a Listed race at the Royal meeting (Seaway) and
a NTO maiden winner who was a non-runner at Ascot (Tishtar). Which means
he wasn't being left behind by garbage. Dropped to 5f he won at Ripon about
a month ago but without finishing the race off strongly having chased Lookafternumberone
who went so hard he tired int he last furlong. He hasn't been paddock reviewed
but OR78 seems ok on his form profile and he runs for a reliable trainer.
He steps up to 6f again which doesn't seem a real positive. He should compete
well but not be unbeatable and his price is likely to be below reasonable
Veronicas Boy looks a little high at OR74 and on profile has
little scope to improve. A cheap retainee at the sales he seemed to be
the beneficiary of pacesetters going too hard with his STO win here and
his form has not progressed.
Carmanjoe represents Mick Easterby who, despite what you might read
elsewhere, has his 2yos ready to compete to a high level on debut. He split
two later winners on debut at Southwell but with poor runners not far back
who have run to lower ratings since. He blew out on turf over 6f STO when
contesting the pace with the winner Harwalla (useful). But he did worse
than the other two who were front rank - Nchike & Cool Sonata - who
have both been beaten in sellers since. Back on the fibresand at Southwell
over 5f he ran well again to finish behind two fillies. One of those -
Aunt Nicola - has won since and finsihed a volunteer third in a sub-standard
6f Listed race at Newmarket on Saturday. OR69 would seem fair enough if
he were over 5f at Southwell but doesn't appeal over 6f on turf.
If you look at the Virtual Paddock for the race you will see Johnmanderville
next to Raimond Ridge and if asked to say which looked the more
powerful horse would probably pick the former. Both made three early season
outings and has had a long break prior to appearing in this first Nursery.
You would presume that this may well have been planned. Raimond Ridge has
got OR69 and Johnmanderville OR66 which seem ok and better for the Karl
Burke horse because he is the better physical specimen. Some horses do
develop well from early season to mid season (try looking at these pictures
of Art Connoisseur at Leicester
Ascot, for example) but most don't change much. Raimond Ridge is going
to have needed to filled out and strengthened a lot to be more than ordinarily
competitive off 69 here. Given he split a dual winner (Saxford) & Hilary
Needler victress (Knavesmire) at Necastle on his second run OR69 would
actually be quite restrained by the BHA handicapper's standards in taking
into account the real quality of the performances int hat early race. Anyway,
Raimond Ridge would be just an average runner and would need there to be
alack of runners with some potential to improve to win unless he has made
some sort of physical gains himself.
Johnmanderville made his three runs at a time of the season when Karl Burke
doesn't get wins and has 2yos are developing with racing. He has been a
little ahead of schedule this season but the the first win didn't come
until May 15th (6 days after this one had completed his three runs). In
that context we should see a better horse here and on physical type he
ought to be better than OR69. The caveat is that although a realtively
powerful horse (he would stand out in a 60-69 handicap group) he doesn't
convince as being fully athletic enough to use his power. To date he has
run that way by going comfortably with the race pace until something kicks
when he can't produce much of an increase in pace himself. The stiff finish
here would be ok for his more galloping style if he can travel with the
pace well enough. On profile he's the most interesting to beat the standard
that Sweet Smile sets.
Elaine's Folly won a claimer and got an OR62 for that which
is an absolutely typical value for winning in that sort of contest. There
is a real jump between the 'Class' required to win a claimer and a moderate
to average nursery like this. She would need to be the better end of the
claimer class to win this and that doesn't seem to be the case.