The Listed level "Dragon Stakes" at Sandown has attracted a typical
field of 2yo sprinter types who fall below the top level and don't have
longer term Group race futures. Four of the field of 7 ran at Royal Ascot
with none starting at less than 16/1 and only April Pride (5th of 16 in
the 6f Albany Stakes) making the first 9. Which is why they drop to Listed
level rather than being progressive horses on their way up to being the
next Fleeting Spirit or Kingsgate Native. That pair have come out of the
top class line of 5f 2007 juveniles to prove what an ordinary group of
older sprinters we have been watching in recent years.
The Profile ratings level for the race is into the 50s and a good result
would be a strong performance from one of the runners which got into the
mid-60s although this seems unlikely. Remember that a the very best individuals
this year will put up performances above a B2yoR 90 level although these
will be rare and should indicate the horses that can make an impact at
3yo. The six 2yos that managed a 100+ rating last year were New Approach
(3yo Classic winner), Kingsgate Native (Group1 winner), Fast Company (non
runner to date), Raven's Pass (Group 1 placed), Natagora (Classic Winner)
& Fleeting Spirit (Group2 winner). Which is encouraging if your target
is to identify the truly better class performances at 2yo rather than rating
races by the 'Class' sticker on them.
April Pride comes out top on profile because of her 5th at Royal
Ascot which was 11 points higher than her previous ratings on easier ground
in early season. She drops back to 5f on a stiff track which might be her
ideal geven that she hasn't looked a pure 'speed' filly. She sets a reasonable
standard without it being any surprise if the Albany Stakes turns out to
be a little over-rated (the field didn't look Group quality physically)
and she gets beaten.
White Shift appeals more over 5f and on a easier track would look
a ok bet in this group. She didn't look in good condition at Ascot and
was too wound up to perform to her best. She ran 5 days ago at Windsor
and looked in much better shape and stood out in that field as the most
powerful sprinter. She was giving a lot of weight away to other fillies
there but it was no surprise to see her set a good pace and then respond
when challenged. The problem with her is that she only has two speeds (go
and stop) and is likely to set the pace here. On this stiff track you can
be as tough as you like and you will end up setting yourself up for the
closers in the last furlong. David Evans also runs Royal Raider
who won a seller for Stuart Kittow on debut and was claimed for 7,200 guineas.
She shouldn't be up to this level but the trainer does know what is required.
He won this race in 2003 with Fortunately who he claimed out of a Wolverhampton
race from Alan Berry.
Readers of the site will know that B2yoR has a lot of respect for the way
that the Linda Stubbs' yard goes about 2yo racing. Although they have just
a small number of, usually cheap, runners each year they get regular winners,
and multiple winners. This year they have run four horses to date with
Saxford (cost 2,500 guineas) winning his third race in the Listed "Rose
Bowl" stakes yesterday. Calley Ho (9,000gns) has won and Russet Reward
(10,000gns) runs here on a three-timer having won a Bath Novice last
time beating Kerrys Requiem & Doughnut who were in front of, and behind,
White Shift a few days ago. That looked a step forward on his early season
form int he way that Saxford's Newcastle win was prior to his Listed success.
Light The Fire (trainer not in form with the 2yos yet), Moss
Likely (less scope to develop than some of the others) & Raggle
Taggle (wholehearted trier who should find this group a notch above
her level unless the pace breaks the race up) don't appeal as stand out
In summary, a tight race between a set of runners for whom this level looks
their maximum. A test of the Royal Ascot form to see whether unplaced form
there can deal with Russet Reward (the Ascot returnees couldn't deal with
Saxford). On an easier track White Shift would look a bet so long as she
looked ok on the day in the preliminaries. Having watched a lot of Sandown
5f races with the winner well back at halfway and coming through to run
away from the stallers up front a bet on her here would be a test in the
final furlong. April Pride is likely to be well up in the closers and along
with Russet Reward look the best alternatives.
The Sandown 7f maiden can be of variable quality and only occasionally
with a real high class runner. This is early in the season to be starting
over 7f and it often attracts just useful runners at best. In 2006 (Result)
the winner had a go in a Group race at 33/1 before dropping back to nurseries
and there were a couple of orinary winners behind. Last year (Result)
had a little more depth but just one open maiden winner and three nursery
victors behind Scintillo. The winner became a Group1 winner at 2yo by winning
the 8f Criterium in San Siro but that race has been a soft race in many
years and shouldn't be Group1 classification.
On profile this year's heat seems to be better than the last two years
in overall strength and it would be disappointing if this group could only
produce one later open maiden win. The last two winners had both had a
previous run and this can allow a lesser horse to beat a good newcomer.
Seminole probably could have won his debut run at Newmarket but
for rolling around later in the race and gets blinkers put on here. As
with many Newmarket maidens the actual form shown was not strong so you
need to interpret how good Seminole actually is and how much he can improve.
He went throught hat race like an average type without looking better class
and seems likely to be lesser value here. Mons Calpe got a positive
for the future on his debut at Newbury when he was too inexperienced to
show his form. He was the first string for the owner by the colours worn
(who knows what that might actually indicate) and the second string was
a good winner on the day. He looks to be a good each-way material here
given that the unplaced run should put the form people off.
Plenty of interest in the newcomers including two from Richard Hannon who
has run a whole range of types in this race over the years. The best of
his pair should compete for the win in this group. On balance this seems
more likely to be Granski although it can be tricky picking out
the first string at times.
Michael Stoute has won the race before but has not had a runner in the
last two seasons. He runs an owner bred for Khalid Abdulla here and as
with Resort at Newmarket last week you presume he is probably a little
above average maiden winner level to be starting this early for that owner.
But, and it's a substantial one, the trainer doesn't get debuts wins at
this time of the season and Zacinto could be Group quality and finish
third off a Stoute preparation. It's instructive to look at his record
with 7f debuts. The headline figure says that in 2006 he had 10 FTO wins
over 7f from 71 attempts which a a strike rate of 14% and well above the
general average. But backing all of those 7f debuts would have led to a
21 point loss in tha period despite the strike rate. Stoute is 'so good'
at what he does people think the results are even better than they actually
are.Look a bit deeper and the 7f debuts wins are mostly in October and
those before much less frequent. None have been before mid-August. So Zacinto
is likely to be poor value and underprepared even if he's Group class.
Worth noting that there is no Mark Johnston representative in a race and
course where he regularly has 7f runners of all types of quality. He is
behind even his recent build-into-the-season approach this year and has
had just three wins to date and three 7f debuts when that is normally an
area of strength for the stable.
In summary, Seminole looks one to take on at shorter prices and Mons Calpe
a reasonable pick from those with previous runs. Some good looking newcomers
on profile with Granski, Millharbour & Sixties Swinger coming out top
of that group and Zacinto one to avoid on preparation grounds (he might
actually be the best long term prospect).
The Salisbury nursery is the third of the year after two northen
races which had similar shapes to them. Remember that a template for the
quality is to take Official Ratings (OR) 80+ as better quality, below 70
as moderate and worse and 70-79 as the average maiden winner changeover
section. The Hamilton race on Tuesday had a topweight at OR78 in the average
level and that Kevin Ryan trained previous winner drifted in the market
and got about a furlong into the race before being eased. The rest of the
field were spread between 74 down to 62 and the winner was Johnmanderville
who was on OR66 for some early season runs when his trainer is still getting
going. The B2yoR report from his Beverley run had him around the OR78-80
mark if he could move his bulk adequately which fitted in with his 3.5
At Haydock yesterday there was just a 5 runner field with the topweight
also a Kevin Ryan trained previous winner in Rievaulx World. He hasn't
been paddock reviewed but got a B2yoR rating of 53 (backed up by an earlier
49) for his comfortable 4TO maiden breaking win at Ripon. To put that into
context it's on a par with the Listed race runners in the Dragon Stakes
on B2yoR figures. He was running off OR85 which would be behind the likes
of April Pride and White Shift so he ought to have run well on figures.
Opposed by a thin field with a previous seller winner in at OR77 (you have
to win a seller by a long way to get that figure) he won well but looking
to step forward again and obviously worth a go in at least a Listed race.
Also interesting that unlike Sweet Smile at Hamilton this one was backed
like the certainty it ran like. So 'The Market' does know, sometimes.
7 of the 8 Salisbury runners have pictures in the Virtual Paddock so it's
time to play 'Powerball'. No, really, come back, where are you going? Instinctively
we like to think that the more time we spend on something and the more
facts, stats and detail we bring into consideration the more relaible the
outcomes will be. If you are looking at horses and trying to assess how
good they are then you need to be a conformation expert who can go on at
length about pastern angles, croup set-up, and on, and on. Well, the results
from the sales tell you that approach has it's limitations and 2,500gns
horses still wil Listed races and 30,000gns purchases win Classics (Cockney
Rebel), the list is immense.
Try looking at the pictures in the Salisbury VP and don't look at the detail
just imagine a 'ball of power' (i.e. the Powerball) that the size, strength
and attitude of the horse communicates. For comparison the horses in the
pictures are running off these ORs :-
Servoca = 85
Finnegan McCool = 82
Soul Sista = 74
Redhead = 69
Shadow Bay = 67
Madison Belle = 63
Noworneva = 62 (actually 61 but he has to carry OR62 weight because
7-12 is the lowest weight allowed)
How do those ratings compare to the sizes of Powerball their pictures describe
to you? You will probably find they pretty much match the OR order. Servoca
& Finnegan McCool both have more bulk (power) and that's what lifts
them up in the OR. The others are below average power and Soul Sista looks
a bit high at 74 but has good efficiency (athleticism) to use the power
she has well (a subject for another preview). The others don't impress
for power and are below that OR70 cut-off point for quality. The reason
why topweights compete above the level they should do overall is partly
answered by that point. The ones at the top of the handicap have more power
and the scope to develop further is more likely to go with it. The bottom
of the handicap is riddled with moderate types who are over-burdened with
the OR they have let alone getting into 'scope to develop' issues.
Remember, that the job of the handicapper is to be a spoilsport and lumber
the better horses with enough extra weight to slow them up to allow the
thers to run to the same speed. The 2 nurseries run so far have been won
by 3.5 and 6 lengths so there are always oppostunities to find horses who
are playing Powerball off the wrong rating. Also consider, that these horses
have all been running in level weight (apart from the 5lbs allowance for
females who are that bit less powerful on average) maidens and you can
split fields of maidens into rough (even quite fine) Powerball regions
without much effort.
One of the runners in this race - Finnegan McCool - is a good example of
how to apply this. Imaging you turn up at Windsor for a maiden and the
filly My Sweet Georgia is the Evens favourite on the back of a debut second.
Here's what she looks like the first time you see her - Picture
- what do you think? A bit of power behind but weaker in front and narrow
bodied (the picture doesn't show this well). 'Soul Sista' type OR74 if
at a pinch and not a strong open maiden contender but she's a short price
favourite. Time to look for something to take her on with. The Hannon filly
Like For Like has placed before what's she to look at - Picture.
Oh, my word, even worse and that's why she got beaten as 2/1 favourite
at Kempton last time (and again at Windsor this week at 11/10f). Playing
Powerball with too small a ball. What's this thing with more power than
the others? Here's Finnegan McCool (Picture)
as a colt in with these lightweight fillies and no goods. He runs for a
relaible trainer and his lack of progression (in form terms) means he's
available at 10/1. Put aside ass the endless detail and crutches and let's
just rely on the Powerball question. Do we want to bet on this bigger lump
of power at 10/1 (SP 7/1) or modertae looking streaks of it at Evens?
Anyway, what's going to win at Salisbury? Well Finnegan McCool stood out
on value against lightweights but OR82 doesn't look a bargain given his
height. Those below OR70 don't appeal and there doesn't look to be a Johnmaderville
type lurker. Shadow Bay is interesting because he might just get abover
OR70 but was such a mental mouse in early season he didn't show what he
can actually do and OR67 actually a bit of a liberty. Soul Sista isn't
an OR74 type long term but competes well and her trainer is very good at
training these types hard in early to mid season to maximise their potential.
This messes up their 3yo+ prospects but you win the races your way in the
end. So you come to the conclusion that the two colts at the top of the
handicap are probably, correctly, the class of this field and you would
prefer Servoca off OR85 to FMc off OR82. [Hang on, that's just 'back the
topweights in nurseries' padded out...]