'Grim Fascination' anyone? While it's enjoyable to spend time on the better
2yos and picking out the possible high class horses of the future it is
worth reminding ourselves that the mahority of horses are moderate athletes
in horse racing terms. Kempton gave a good reminder on Wednesday with two
divisions of a nursery where the topweight in each had an Offical Rating
(OR) of 60. Remember that sub-70 and you are into moderate physical types
and a solid Seller winner would normally get around OR60-2.
The seller, sorry, Nursery at Wolverhampton today has the best horse on
OR65 and lots of horses packed into the 60-65 range with just one horse
below that on OR59. A look through the 'Virtual Paddock' shows them to
be a motley bunch - underpowered, oddly put together, short movers and
so on. Save The Day looks to be in the wrong place and there is
nothing of Crystallize so perhaps he has bulked up a little since
the picture was taken to finish third at Brighton (or perhaps he didn't
have to be that good in which case OR60 is a bit of a liberty. The only
two winners in the field are Come On Buckers & Hollow Green
who both won sellers when with David Evans. They both stand out a little
in the mature way they hold themselves and look like they are up for the
job. They are alos both 'neat enough' although small and/or lightly made.
Mr Evans has an individual approach to 2yos but you have to respect the
way he gets the best out of the limited athletes he has. He turns out his
2yos leaner and fittter than practically any other handler but they hold
their form through the season despite the workload. Interesting to know
how he does it and worth noting how he manages to get the wins with the
lowly types. The small and wiry Kingswinford won a nursery at Newbury
yesterday on his 14th run of the season off OR73 having won his 12th go
off OR66 having been beaten in a seller previously after some solid early
season form. Some trainers can't produce mentally sound, professional,
horses two runs in succession but Mr Evans seems to do better than most.
Anyway, back to be grimly fascinated. It's all very well picking out good
types like Liberation & Evasive and saying they should win their maiden
but let's try watching out for Ucantmissme at Lingfield. The Paddock
Review from his Great Leighs debut was very funny but entirely uncomplimentary.
A short, podgy, cow-faced old boat seemed to be the gist of it and a waste
having it in training given it surely couldn't move itself properly. But,
there it was making stelthy progess in the straight in a manner that could
have Nick Luck getting all excited about eyecatchers. Now, that looked
a bad race and run in a slow time so the 'promise' might have been empty
of worthwhile content. Let's see how he goes in what looks a patchy race
with lots of major trainers represented but many of those that have run
haven't shown much.
Ucantmissme is trained by David Arbuthnot who doesn't have many 2yo runners
or winners but does seem to get the best from tiny and ill put together
ones. In the slower division of that pair of bad Kempton nurseries he had
the winner with the pony sized Bold Ring (picture
, aahhh) who hadn't made a place before an ran off OR53. That race feature
Kayceebee as the favourite at 11/4 despite the fact he had never
placed. He had run in maidens in earlier season but hadn't run well and
was given a 'Bad Boy' ride on his third outing where he was whipped and
hustled along to get him to stop being lazy. Two months off since that
carpet-beating effort and gelded to presumably try to get him to be less
lazy and to grow up mentally. Paddock Review showed him to be the same
immature slob he was before the op and the favourite status a nonsense.
Mind you, Bold Ring wouldn't normally enter your mind as an easy winner
even in that group and what a dreadful bunch they must be.
To complete the few thoughts about paddock review in barrel scraping terms
let's think about Folkestone on Tuesday. One thing to remember about Folkestone
is that when odd things happen (like long priced winners and places the
answer is nearly always 'Rail Bias' and in partiular the large advantage
being on the stands' rail in the last 2-3 furlongs is. The first divsion
looked a poor group and the stands' side group were well clear and the
50/1 runner-up ran the stands' rail. She was beating other moderate horses
of course but Champion Girl is alos interesting in that she is an
example of a horse who had improved physically from her early runs. This
is her - Picture
- on her Windsor debut and she's small, poorly devleoped behind with a
mouse attitude (head down trying to hide herself) and moderate general
condition. Go to Folkestone with that in your mind and 50/1 wouldn't sound
a bargain. On Tuesday everything has improved a notch - Picture
- and she has matured. Still not exciting but in a duff group she'd in
there as a possible.
Consider that the favourite is another filly Surprise Party (picture)
isn't really any better a type and has no chance after going far side with
a small group. The Hannon newcomer Castlemaine (Picture)
opened around 4/1 and drifted to 10/1 and the picture shows why - a scrawny
little rabbit and Richard Hughes looked somewhat daft perched on her ("Shouldn't
you be carrying her, son..."). Anyway the winner was a 16/1 shot in Saturn
and the picture from his Kempton debut shows him to be a solid size in
the context of this group and helped by racing closer to the stands' rail.
Which is a long way of saying that in juvenile races 16/1 shot beats 50/1
shot are often explainable.
Now, the 'Market' at Folkestone got Castlemaine right and the drift did
tell you that she was a duff one. But the second division of the maiden
went to Mark Johnston's Saint Arch (another 7f debut winner for
him) who drifted to 10/1. Here's a - Picture
- of him and Joe Fanning is perched up on a 'Man' of a good sized horse
who seems to be put together in a solid enough fashion. He isn't sheepishly
poised on a pony of the Castlemaine mould. What's the 'Market' telling
us here? A possible explanation would be that Saint Arch was immature in
various ways in the prelims and the picture shows Fanning having to push
him into getting on with it while he's thinking about whether to plant
himself. If that was the cause of the drift then it would be a good lesson
in Paddock Review. So long as the best athlete in the field hasn't 'lost
it' then just back them anyway. Saint Arch wasn't a professional but was
faced by a moderate group so didn't have to be to win comfortably aided
by staying close to the rail. Try putting a mental "Fancy this at 10/1?"
into the frame when looking at the pictures of Castlemaine & Saint
Arch when they are competing in very similar races.