A big field for the Hilary Needler Trophy at Beverley as the second
Listed race of the season. The next is tomorrow at Sandown where Monsieur
Chevalier continues his 5f career in the National Stakes. In fields of
this size on the course a high draw is normally an advantage and those
drawn low have at least three disadvantages. They have to run further as
the course works around a right hand dog-leg, they started lower down the
slope on an uphill course and they have no efficient way to drop
into a preferred racing position. The final point meaning that they have
to use extra energy to get to the better spots early in the race. An alternative
is to drop further back in the field than a winner would typically come
from and hope the race breaks up in some way to allow a closing win. The
fact that you have a field of mostly closely matched nippy fillies makes
the first approach very difficult. But, the advantage is that the pace
pressure caused by a lot of horses mixing it up front can allow winners
to come from further back than normal.
The draw versus the results in recent years are as follow :-
2002 = Ordinary race (80s raters) and stall 12 won from 11
2003 = Attraction won from 8 of 12 but would have been successful
from any stall. She broke the race up with the pace she set.
2004 = Messy race with ordinary fillies who went too fast and stall
1 won from 10 and 5 with a closing run in the centre of the course.
2005 = Rain affected and two groups raced either side until winner
Clare Hills cut across from stall 3 side to win from 4 and 8.
2006 = Roxan won from stall 8 with 12, 10, 3 & 1 close up. She
got 3 lengths behind at halfway and won by switching to centre track.
2007 = Peculiar set-up with the first two home drawn 1 & 2 and
raced up the stands' rail together and were 2-3 lengths of the pressing
leaders on the far rail at halfway. The pace set on the far side looked
too strong with the leading pair fading to midfield. The volunteer third
who an on the far side was 50/1 and 5 lengths back at halfway. Although
that not sound much it is a big margin in this type of race on firmer going.
Remember than unless the pace is too strong to cause the leading rank to
wilt nearly all the winners will either come from the leading line or from
Stalking just behind them. The Pouncers will usually be within 2 lengths
of the lead at halfway and rarely more than 3. Again, you might say how
can a pace break a leading line of horses but not those so close behind?
But, those are the margins with horses where the ability range of thoroughbreds
is narrow and the differences between a usable and breaking pace measured
in fractions of seconds over these sprint distances. Racing out in front
with a bit of 'horse' friction from the others with you at 0.1s above an
ideal pace is actually badly inefficient use of the power you have to use.
The horses in behind are settled with less inter-horse friction, will have
gone along at the ideal pace or a non-breaking one and are best placed
to make the later race effort. Making 2-3 lengths on a stalled leader is
the normal maximum that a horse can make. If you are sitting further back
at halfway you will only get to the lead if you are truly superior (very
rare horses) or the pace has been so strong to drag the 1-3 length Stalkers
above the Pace Barrier. In this 2007 edition the 5 length back midfielder
manage to win her race with the pace folding badly on her side but was
still well behind the 2-3L stalkers who had run a bit further up the stands'
2008 = Stall 8 & 11 Stalkers won comfortably after the pacemakers
on the far rail had blown up. The best horse in the race - Aspen Darlin
- could only get to 3rd from a lower draw. But, she was better at distances
longer than 5f and you could add the 6f Group 1 winner Donna Blini to a
list of fillies placed in this race because they were not quite fast enough
for the specialist 5f test.
If you tried to summarise that you'd say that the rail is an advantage
in evenly matched races on better going. A pace duel will allow the Stalkers
within 1-3 lengths at halfway to win and be best placed to move forward.
A frantic pace which drags the second rank through halfway too quickly
will be needed to allow anything to come from further back in centre track.
Low draws can win but need an unusual race set-up which produces, in effect,
two races with the battling far rail group softening themselves up to allow
travelling centre to stands' side racers to overcome the small number
of lengths disadvantage they have from draw & midfield+ placing.
The five 5f races at the course this year mostly fit the template. All
have been won by horses within 2.5 lengths of the lead at halfway. One
of the five was leading and three others were either second or third through
the halfway point. The other as 6th at halfway but only 2.5 lengths back
behind an average pace. He had to work to get past the leader but that
one had used energy early to get from a low draw to lead before settling
the pace. To demonstrate the fine margins that result would have been different
if you had shifted the first two three stall boxes in opposite directions.
Three of the winners have been drawn 8, 9 & 14 and, in closely matched
& larger fields on firmer going, a draw of 7-8+ is usually needed.
This bottom limit is actually informative, in efficiency terms, because
it tells you where the cut-off point is for clearing & crossing towards
the far rail or dropping in is. The two lower drawn winners have been in
8-9 runner races.
If we tried applying some of this to the year's race we would say
that there is a good chance of a pace duel on the far rail. Five of the
seven highest draw horses have led or pressed the pace in some race. Tillys
Tale seemed to improve for front running last time and looked in excellent
condition but seems too limited in quality to win. If she tries to mix
it here you can only see her fading. Parbold Hill got blown up by
Tillys Tale trying to chase her at Thirsk and had faded badly on debut.
Another with a good draw but not an obviously strong profile to finish
the race off otherwise. Diamond Laura is a different prospect and
has managed to see races off well from tough paces. Last time at York she
persisted best of the front rank but could only manage 4th as the pace
was too frantic and allowed the Stalkers to draw clear later on.
Those who Pounced at York included Little Scotland who would present
a strong profile in Run Style terms if you could shift her a few stalls
higher in the draw. She has an possible presser just outside her with Dower
Glen but those in the mid-range stalls include slow starter Patteresa
Girl & hold-up type Sheka. One problem with those thoughts
can be that horses get pressed to run in different styles in this type
of race. You imagine the connections of, for example, Sheka pumping the
jockey full of 'get her out' & 'do not lose your draw place' stuff
and a hold-up horse becomes a problem to Little Scotland to try to get
across more easily.
Angelena Ballerina may come from a Newmarket 6f race that has been
under-rated and certainly can rate much higher than she has already. Her
debut at Chester can be forgotten because the draw gave her no chance to
compete early but she kept on well late. Last time she was 2.5 lengths
off the lead at halfway in a solidly run 6f race and made good ground to
the finish (although less than Electric Feel who is probably pretty good).
Good draw, solid Run Style and probably enough pace to Stalk while seeing
the race out. A solid profile to place but perhaps a bit light in class
if there is a better filly.
High quality is the other main variable, along with pace, which can overcome
some of the constraints that draw & Run Style confer on the runners.
You probably wouldn't be far wrong to say that most of the fillies in this
race will rate OR75-88 at 2yo. Which means if you ran them all over 5f
in a manner that allowed all of them to express their full power
& ability you would spread them out over a less than princessly 4 lengths.
If there is a filly in here who is real better class at say OR100 she has
4 lengths in hand of the others and can overcome some inefficiency and
still win. Give her the best run through the race and she will win clearly
demonstrating the better ability. Which is part of the reason why being
able to make more than 2-3 lengths on average opponents usually shows a
high class individual. Make a lot more than that or make a lesser amount
very quickly & with a change-of-pace and you can be sure you have a
good one. When Misheer won by 8 lengths on debut she was doing it from
below average horses but the easy & unpressed manner she did it said
that she was a better one.
So, as we go down the draw we should be looking out for a better filly
that might be able to overcome the problems. Six Wives got her win
in a poor claimer last time and her runner-up was beaten two days ago in
another weak race. If she is outside the OR75-88 range it is probably off
the bottom. Don't Tell Mary is a much more interesting possibility.
Well drawn and a clear winner on debut with a front-runnning display, but
a controlled one. She beat Toga Tiger who was given a hold-up ride to grant
her an easy lad but she was going away again at the end. If she would drop
in here and you could convince yourself she was OR88 or better a very good
Leleyf has not looked up to the class required to win this and struggled
to go the pace in the Marygate and then faded. The last two winners of
this race has been midfield in that race and better for the stiffer test
here but she does not appeal on quality grounds. She can Stalk but has
also shown she likes to front-run when she can. Sheka has not looked
up to the required class and has the wrong Run Style unless this turns
into a war out front. Never nearer than 4 lengths off the lead in weaker
races and a closer. Quaker Parrot is the Dascombe second string
to Don't Tell Mary and her Warwick win was moderate form and very hard
to see her being good enough.
Tom Folan seems to have a good mix of draw & Run Style to be
efficient here. A typical run in her three outings so far to sit in 2nd
or 3rd within 3 lengths of the lead and then plus on later in the race
and make a place or two. When she did not really finish a race off strongly
here STO she had come across from a lower draw. A solid profile in efficiency
terms but not totally convincing in the Quality terms (the Fourth Dimension
in this model).
Once you get to Patteresa Girl you are into draws 7 & below
and without some withdrawals they are going to need some 'Help' to win.
The most likely source from without is an overly strong pace and everything
on the far rail side stalling and the Stalkers get caught up in the backwash.
A clear run up centre track can then work. The other main aid comes from
within and natural oomph. Patteresa Girl has not looked a speed filly and
has not helped herself with slow breaks on both outings. This was the 10
length variety FTO & getting back to the pack in the straight an ok
effort. She lost 2 lengths STO and that was how far back she was at halfway.
As some quicker fillies made their later race efforts she got outpaced
and won by plugging on very late to pick up the faders. With her draw that
is how she will probably have to be ridden. Plugging on in mid track not
a strong profile but just about usable and a lot of respect for the trainer
to have her at peak form
Dower Glen turned into a frantic pacemaker STO on softer going and
broke the whole race up. She persisted pretty well given the nonsense but
got beaten by a 66/1 shot outpaced by miles at halfway who has ben beaten
in a seller. If she tries to press from her draw she cannot win and the
class to close centre track not obvious either. Little Scotland
is different and with a higher draw you could have her close to topping
the profile. Her effort in the Marygate was a revelation and her stable
is in much better form now. She sat 4th to a strong pace at York &
0.5 lengths off Diamond Laura at halfway. That does not tell the whole
story though because the pick-up speed early in the race seemed the real
killer and Little Scotland missed that and made he move forward towards
halfway when things had settled a bit. A good effort to make move forward
with Misheer and challenged until fading late. Give her a Stalking pitch
from a higher draw and a solid favourite. The lower draw makes that outcome
trickier but still a major contender.
Little Azif seemed to have her lack of size & power demonstrated
in the Marygate and could not beat Diamond Laura there and has much the
worse of the draw. Lady Lube Rye will be better than she showed
at Redcar when not handling the firm ground but still winning. But, from
draw 2 she will need to do something unusual to win and not obviously better
class. The Hermitage has blasted off in front on both runs although
she settled better when not pressed last time in a weak Newmarket race.
She is one of those who might be OR88+ in quality terms but if she tries
getting front rank from draw 3 she will not win if the lead is contests
which much be a certainty anyway. Respect for her but a pass because something
unusual will have to occur to win. An finally, Existentialist looks
a solid OR85+ filly and give her stall 16 rather than 1 and an almost certain
placer. The draw means she has a very difficult puzzle to solve and one
where the best answer might only be a solid 5th anyway.
In summary, a full field and closely matched fillies with plenty
of forward goers should mean a fascinating bout of flow-and-fold in four
dimensions. Taking the draw as the first dimension something odd will have
to happen for something to win from below stall 8ish. Oddities have occurred
three times in the last years but two were softer ground assisted (= upgrade
Little Scotland, The Hermitage & Existentialist if a group racing stands'
side seems plausible). Taking Run Style as the second dimension then a
Stalker within 1-3 Lengths of the lead at halfway (& with a good draw
is most efficient). Angelena Ballerina & Tom Folan seen best suited
on evidence although one of the previous frontrunners drawn high may well
drop in. On quality ground you hope that would be Don't Tell Mary. Pace
as dimension three and on a further reflection perhaps not a frantic as
you might think. A lot may depend on whether Diamond Laura can clear Tillys
Tale and get to the rail and set a good but not daft pace. If she can then
a strong contender to hang on to win. If she gets hooked up with Tillys
Tale and something like Leleyf or Six Wives joins in then the Stalkers
go odds-on if they were not already.
If we forgets about the 3-D bit and just think about quality the first
pass shortlist would have Don't Tell Mary, Little Scotland, Diamond Laura,
Angelena Ballerina, Existentialist & The Hermitage on in that
order on the evidence so far. The draw dimension removes Existentialist
& The Hermitage and Little Scotland just hangs on because 5 may be
usable with some dubious duffers & slow starters inside of her and
because she just ran so well at York. Diamond Laura's chances seem to rest
on how much she participates in the pace and she does not appear to like
to be shortchanged although she is tractable and not a mad dasher in the
Dispol Keasha mode. Very good each-way value if the price is there because
she is a real trier. Angelena Ballerina comes up short on plain quality
although has a lot going for her otherwise & Don't Tell Mary stays
top of the profile if she can restrain from slugging it out in the leading
line (if that occurs).
A couple of points to note in the other races on the day. The second of
the RP 'Expert Eyecatchers' runs at Lingfield with Soul Heaven.
Remember that the logic for backing him is that because he got cut-off
going for a gap between the limited Flapjack and the stalling Reddy To
Star last time he "will win races". Since we are dealing in bogus
logic unsupported by numerical anchor points the onward conclusion must
be "this is a race and he will win it". Oh, and if he does B2yoR will claim
a tipping success for that previous sentence. However bogusly. On a more
thoughtful approach you might say he only needs to get back the 3-6 ratings
points he lost being hampered and add a bit for STO and he is competitive
in this moderate race anyway. But what did the 'Expert Eyecatcher' guy
say about draw 3 or trundling-through-in-the-straight Run Styles at this
track or even what a value SP might be?
You would tend to think that Any Day has shown us all she has and
a couple of the colts will trundle by her, straightwise. Quaestor
& I'malwaysright are around the same raw (i.e. pre efficiency
consideration) levels as Soul Heaven.
A four runner race at Brighton with a STO class drop from a major stable
in Kalam Daleel who looks better than the normal OR68-73 type brought in
for this type of task. But, real interest for B2yoR in watching how Lairy
goes. First run off the claim after a lost debut for David Nicholls in
a seller followed by a 3rd in a seller at Ripon where he never tried once.
Very interesting to see whether he can develop to be OR69ish kit and well
worth the claim.