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Thread: The thoughts of the handicappers.

  1. #41
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    Thanks for that, Grey.

    I thought it might be useful to see the way the official handicapper thinks.
    Ah! but a man's reach should exceed his grasp......

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  3. #42
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    Good posts Colin thanks.

  4. #43
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    Sizing Europe underlines his two-mile credentials
    Saturday saw the reigning two-mile Champion show some of the young guns how it's done in the Tingle Creek, and John de Moraville gives his verdict on just how high a standard Sizing Europe is setting a present. Mark Olley runs the rule over a couple of Grand National trials he dealt with; while both Chris Nash and Stephen Hindle outline some younger horses we could be hearing more of in 2012.

    EUROPEAN RULE

    Sizing Europe underlined his position as the top two-miler with an authoritative victory in Sandown's Tingle Creek Chase - but he did not need to run up to his best to win, writes John de Moraville.

    The Henry de Bromhead-trained star, who headed last season's Anglo-Irish Classifications on 177 thanks to his sparkling Queen Mother Champion Chase success at Cheltenham, went into Saturday's showpiece with 13lb and upwards in hand over his six rivals.

    And that superiority was strikingly apparent in the race with Andrew Lynch's mount, back at his optimum distance, never looking in danger of defeat.

    With trailblazing second-favourite Wishfull Thinking following his Paddy Power failure with another worryingly disappointing display, Sizing Europe ran to 167+ in disposing of the promising Kauto Stone, who was not helped by a jolting blunder at the fourth fence from home, by eight lengths.

    Kauto Stone's jockey Ruby Walsh had taken the earlier Grade 1, the newly-promoted Henry VIII Novices Chase, on the 4-11 favourite Al Ferof. Running to 153, similar to the mark he posted on his impressive Cheltenham chase debut, the classy grey momentarily looked vulnerable as For Non Stop (151) loomed up after the last.

    Thankfully forhis supporters, he pulled out a bit extra close home. More will be needed if he is to upset Arkle favourite Peddlers Cross (160+) at Cheltenham in March.

    OFF YOUR ROCKER

    The Betfred Becher Chase has an illustrious roll of National stalwarts as past winners, including Earth Summit, Amberleigh House, Clan Royal, Silver Birch and Black Apalachi, and it will be interesting to see if this year's winner West End Rocker becomes a National hero, writes Mark Olley.

    Last year's winner Hello Bud set a decent pace until depositing his rider at the Canal Turn and that, along with the very testing ground, had the field well strung out. It is never easy to assess a race when there are such big distances between the finishers and I spent far longer on this race than on any other this weekend.

    I have ended up raisingWest End Rocker to a new mark of 149 (+12lb) while runner-up Niche Market drops 4lb to a new mark of 142. This allows 16lb for the twenty-two-length winning margin which looks pretty fair.

    There is a longway to go until the National weights are finalised and with the figures from this race far from set in stone this race will be revisited as the horses run again and further evidence becomes available.

    The last three National winners have been rated 150, 153 and 148 so West End Rocker nicely fits that profile. Alan King's gelding was brought down in the race last year, but jumped very well after an early scare on Saturday and it is easy to see why he heads the ante-post betting at thisstage.

    Another horse to merit a mention from this weekend's racing is Deep Purple. Evan Williams' gelding has some high-class 2m4f form to his name over theyears, notably winning the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon and finishing fourth in the Ryanair at Cheltenham. He was rated 166 at his peak, but had slipped to 149 when stepped up to 3m5f at Sandown on Saturday.

    Produced superbly by Paul Moloney, Deep Purple won going away by three lengths. He is another for whom I heard the National mentioned as a long term target and his new rating of 154 (+5lb) is still a long way below his career best.

    WINTER WARMERS

    There was a really decent renewal of the Grade 2 Winter Novices Hurdle over 2m4f at Sandown on Friday, writes Chris Nash.

    The winner Fingal Bay has already had a positive mention in this feature this season and he further enhanced his claims for a prize at the Festival in March with a powerful display of galloping to beat Simonsig by two and three-quarter lengths.

    The runner up travelled by far the best up the straight but when asked to go and win his race he found it impossible to peg back Fingal Bay. It was a further sixteen lengths back to Barbatos in third (pre-race rating of 137) while the fourth, fifth and sixth arrived with pre-race ratings of 138, 142 and 135 respectively.

    There is scope to rate the front two very highly given what they beat but with the champion novice hurdlers of last year (Al Ferof and Spirit Son) being rated 154 I am keen to keep some perspective until both are tested at the highest level. I have settled on a figure of 149 for Fingal Bay and 146 for Simonsig - both represent career best efforts and both remain progressive horses. Their styles of running could not be more contrasting and there are reasons to believe that the 2m4f trip might prove to be the minimum that the winner requires and the maximum that the runner-up wants for now.

    LATE BLOOMER

    It's off to Hong Kong for some fortunate (or not, as the case may be) members of the handicapping team, where they will be discussing performances worthy of at least 110 with their international colleagues, writes Stephen Hindle.

    From what I've heard (lesser lights like me don't get invited!) the team begins discussions at the top and then work their way down, so presumably they will begin with Frankel and it will be a while before they reach Barbican, a late contender for inclusion after his five-length romp in the listed Wild Flower Stakes at Kempton.

    Alan Bailey's three-year-old has had an excellent first season racing, winning six of his ten starts, which began in a maiden at Wolverhampton back in February. Since then he has done nothing but improve, and giving 7lb (factoring in weight for age) and a beating to the 102-rated Ceilidh House was no mean feat.

    The runner-up possibly didn't see out the trip stepping up from 1m2f, but the first two still pulled seven lengths and more clear of the rest and Barbican looks to have improvedon his 106 rating. I settled on 111 to keep him lower than the two who beat him in Group 3 company at Newbury on his previous outing, though the figure could be higher on all those he beat at Kempton.

    It will be interesting to see howconnections campaign Barbican in 2012. He has winning form from an extended 1m to 1m6f, and there's no reason to doubt his being a force in at least minor Pattern company.

    This blog appears courtesy of britishhorseracing.com
    Ah! but a man's reach should exceed his grasp......

  5. #44
    Senior Member rorydelargy's Avatar
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    "As handicappers, we often attract criticism for treating the placed horses in these valuable handicaps harshly, so from that point it was very pleasing to see the runner-up from the Paddy Power Gold Cup go on to land this race. When you add to that the fact that the Paddy Power Gold Cup winner, Great Endeavour, was second in this race last year it becomes harder to defend that argument."

    An excellent point, except that Great Endeavour's mark was left unchanged after the PP last year, while Quantitativeeasing was raised a massive 1 lb for finishing second this year. Tit.
    handsome is as handsome does

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    Senior Member Bar the Bull's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rorydelargy View Post
    Great Endeavour's mark was left unchanged after the PP last year
    No it wasn't. He was raised from 142 to 148 (and won the PP this year off 147).

    Quote Originally Posted by rorydelargy View Post
    Quantitativeeasing was raised a massive 1 lb for finishing second this year
    Again, not true. He was running from 2lb out of the handicap. So his official mark was raised 3lb for his run in the race.

    Quote Originally Posted by rorydelargy View Post
    Tit
    Quite
    Welsh and Proud.

  7. #46
    Senior Member rorydelargy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bar the Bull View Post
    No it wasn't. He was raised from 142 to 148 (and won the PP this year off 147).
    He was unchanged after the Paddy Power, but raised 6 lb for the run in the Vote AP Gold Cup. I'll admit that I misread that first time. "Horse raised 6 lbs wins race 11 months later" isn't really anything to crow about. The point about QE is valid. He was winning off a 1 lb higher mark than when competing last month, so it doesn't offer a defence for raising horses harshly. Let's see how Medermit gets on after a 6 lb rise before we start drawing conclusions.
    handsome is as handsome does

  8. #47
    Senior Member Grasshopper's Avatar
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    This is just quibbling.

    The most important aspect is that the handicapper is indisputably a tit.
    Last edited by Grasshopper; 13th December 2011 at 3:13 PM.
    "Beat the price and lose. It's what we do".

    SlimChance, March 2018

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    ..............and there's more:

    International honors do not go with the victor
    INTERNATIONAL DUTY
    A question for our readers. Mathematically, which was the best horse on the day in last Saturday's Stanjames.com International Hurdle? asks Dave Dickinson.

    Tricky you may think, after all Overturn was conceding 4lb to the winner Grandouet and was beaten by four lengths. Typical handicapper trick question though because the answer is arguably neither of them.

    Brampour's jockey, the excellent Harry Derham, was not allowed to claim his usual 7lb under the conditions of the race and therefore technically comes out of the race with a figure 2lb above both winner and second. Using Sanctuaire as a benchmark, both Grandouet and Overturn ran to 166 (I have dropped the Fighting Fifth, despite not yet being convinced of Overturn's love of Cheltenham) and I have put Brampour on 168.

    Would he have won the race had he been ridden by Ruby Walsh? Personally I doubt it but he'll hold sound claims on paper if taking up his entry in the big handicap (The Ladbroke) this weekend with Derham once again able to claim his 7lb - he'll technically be 9lb well in. Conditions race form in handicaps I hear you all saying!

    Extending the logic from Brampour, his exploits and those of Grandouet have ledto the belief that last season's Triumph Hurdle was a high quality affair. Well there were clearly some high-class horses involved in the race but the eleventh home was only beaten twelve and a half lengths by the winner that day, so I would argue that the form remains less than solid.

    Said eleventh, Aikideau, also ran at Cheltenham over the weekend - he was beaten over fifteen lengths by the unbeaten Darlan, who was conceding him 6lb. I rest my case.

    GRINDING IT OUT
    The Spinal Research The Atlantic 4 Gold Cup run at Cheltenham on Saturday has had more names than I have had hot dinners, writes Mark Olley.

    Last year it was the Vote AP Gold Cup and for those of us who are a certain age it is better known as the Massey Ferguson - hopefully you now know which race I am writing about!

    The race itself was notable for several crushing mistakes by horses racing in prominent positions, notably the well-fancied David Pipe duo Great Endeavour and Salut Flo. This left Roudoudou Ville to make the best of his wayhome and when he went clear approaching two out he looked the likely winner. However, his surge to go clear left him with little to repel the challenges of Medermit and Quantitativeeasing and thistrio pulled well clear of the ultra-consistent I'msingingtheblues.

    I have moved Roudoudou Ville up 5lb to a new mark of 150 and there will clearly be other days for this fast improving six-year-old. Incidentally, I remember this horse being given a highly optimistic entry in a 0-90 selling handicap hurdle by his then trainers, Robert and Sally Alner, a couple of years ago when newly acquired from France!

    Medermit moves to a new mark of 163 (+6lb), and with a third to Master Minded in the Grade 2 Amlin Chase at Ascot already on his cv he clearly has a future in graded company.

    Those changes to the placed horses mean the winner Quantitativeeasing moves to a career high figure of 153 (+8lb). He is still relatively lightly raced - this was only his seventh chase start - and his style of racing here suggests a step up to 3m looks well within his capabilities.

    As handicappers, we often attract criticism for treating the placed horses in these valuable handicaps harshly, so from that point it was very pleasing to see the runner-up from the Paddy Power Gold Cup go on to land this race. When you add to that the fact that the Paddy Power Gold Cup winner, Great Endeavour, was second in this race last year it becomes harder to defend that argument.

    The Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase was also a race that I had to assess this week, or rather a race that I didn't have to assess! Normally once a horse or horses get beyond the second fence from home, and then fail to finish, we try to allocate them a performance figure based around where we think they would have finished. However, in this instance, with the first seven horses starting to bunch, and there being only around six lengths between them, I took the view that it was impossible to assess this accurately.

    As the first three home were in eighth, ninth and tenth when the first seven took the wrong course I have decided to leave the handicap marks of all runners unchanged.

    PULLING IT ALL TOGETHER
    I am just back from the conference with my European colleagues where we have agreed the International Classifications for the two-year-olds, writes Matthew Tester.

    Sometimes the arguments can be exhausting. One year, after an hour of discussions about the top two colts, we had still not agreed a single rating. This year was easier because we were all singing from the same hymn sheet. You will find out all about it when we hold a press conference on January 10th to reveal the World Thoroughbred Rankings.

    The one sad note was the absence of the Italian Handicapper Marco Rinaldi. Italy was first included in the Classifications in 1985 and Marco has been their representative at every single conference since. A recent health scare, now happily behind him, kept him away.

    It is important to stress that the figures that we reveal are not just our own work. For the European two-year-olds the panel includes Ireland, France, Germany and (usually) Italy. Forthe World Rankings this year 14 countries sent representatives. It is a tiring week for the British; but all the discussions are in English so spare a thought for the hard working delegates from countries where English is not widely spoken.

    This blog appears courtesy of britishhorseracing.com
    Ah! but a man's reach should exceed his grasp......

  10. #49
    Senior Member Hamm's Avatar
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    Can someone please explain to me how in God's name the handicapper thinks Brampour came out of Saturday a better horse than Grandouet? You would need to mentally shot to come to that conclusion.

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    I can tell you why but I can't defend it. He's added the 7 lb his jockey couldn't claim back on. Why they chose not to do the same with Long Run's Gold Cup rating is a question worth asking.

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    Senior Member Hamm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidjohnson View Post
    I can tell you why but I can't defend it. He's added the 7 lb his jockey couldn't claim back on. Why they chose not to do the same with Long Run's Gold Cup rating is a question worth asking.
    Which is my point! It's so poor it's beyond belief.

    Brampour for the Champion Hurdle!

  13. #52
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    Can the handicappers please tell me how you've managed to lump a 71 rating on Sky High Diver for Alan Swinbank

    This horse won a Maiden on the flat in bottomless ground at the greyhound track Newcastle beating 46 rated horse back in 3rd by 2.5l.

    This horse was entered in a Class 6 a month later worth £1,700 and beat 48 rated Spahi back in 2nd by 1.25l and 47 rated Marina Ballerina in 3rd by 1.75l.

    This horse was put up 6lbs, she was then entered in a Class 6 at Southwell again worth £2,000 and beat the same horse Marina Ballerina rated 46 by 0.75l.

    This horse was put up another 6lbs for her win, she was then entered again at Southwell in a Class 5, now rated 65 she's beat a 67 rated horse in 2nd by 1 length.

    You've put her up 6lbs.

    Please tell me how you've managed to raise this horse nearly 2 stone in 3 months, I feel sorry for the trainer & owners who'll have to wait another 2 or 3 years before this filly is back down to her correct rating unless she can go over the timber.

    She's probably the most improved horse in training by your standards?
    Last edited by Bruce_Savage; 20th December 2011 at 1:27 PM.

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    Putting aside the fact that Swinbank himself has chosen to run her under penalties rather than wait for a reassessed mark, don't you think the fact that she's won 3 from 3 in handicaps rather undermines your point. And I'mn rarely one to come to the defence of BHA assessors, but there are plenty better sticks to beat them with than the handicappong of Sky High Diver.

    The revised International ratings for a start. Why on earth you would take a view, and then completely revise it based on a horse failing to give it's running in bizarre. Is Brampour's rating coming down to 162 an admission that it was wrong to arbitrarily add on the riders claim, or has the form of the International been pulled down 5lb, or as it actually been put up 2 lb and the riders claim has no been disregarded.

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    Star shines bright in tight Ladbroke finish
    Saturday's Ladbroke Hurdle saw a pulsating finish go the way of the Alan King-trained Raya Star, writes Dave Dickinson. With less than twenty lengths covering the entire field at the finish it is tempting to claim a triumph for the handicapper, but that's not the whole story by any means.

    One thing guaranteed to wind a handicapper up is the course commentator claiming that a finish is bunched due to a slow pace. This isn't always true - it never seems to occur to commentators that there is a possibility that the horses are closely matched at the weights. However, I have to concur with Richard Hoiles on this occasion as this competitive handicap started in earnest only from four out.

    Credit goes to the winning jockey for making his move in time, as most of the hold-up horses found it difficult trying to pick up rivals who were themselves quickening - if you fancied a hold-up horse for the race and they let you down, don't give up on them.

    Such a tight finish generally helps the handicapper and, by using Act of Kalanisi and Sailors Warn as my benchmarks, Raya Star goes up 6lb to 140 for this victory.

    Now to Brampour. I used to rather like Humble Pie (especially when the late, great Steve Marriott took lead vocals) but it is a bit harder to take these days. Granted, the Ladbroke wasn't run to suit a horse like Brampour - whose strength is his stamina, nor did he like the ground in the opinion of both his rider and trainer. Nevertheless, leaving him going up 9lb would clearly be unfair as the winner Raya Star is only going up 6lb. Handicapping must always be about fairness but what seemed fair a week ago to a horse and jockey combination unbeaten in valuable handicaps hardly looks fair now. So Brampour is dropped to 162.

    To those on the forums who questioned my sanity last week, maybe the closeness of the finish was a slight vindication of my handicapping in general, but had they witnessed my sole break from handicapping at the weekend (to watch the Villa on Sky for the fourth time in a month - all four games finished Aston Villa nil and Idon't remember the opposition keeper being seriously troubled) they might have felt they had a point!

    BACK IN BLACK

    What a difference three days make, writes Martin Greenwood. Last Tuesday Irish raider Black Mac, a well-backed 6-4-favourite in an ordinary six-runner handicap at Folkestone, only managed to finish six lengths second to Promised Wings, having raced keenly and made the running. Other than his propensity to pull there seemed little other excuse for his failure to land the mini gamble. Fast forward to Uttoxeter on Friday and the very same Black Mac lined up in a more competitive thirteen-runner affair, sent off the 9-2 third favourite on this occasion.

    From the off it was obvious that his jockey was intent in using vastly different tactics this time around, and Black Mac settled comfortably at the rear of the field. Travelling like the winner from a long way out, Black Mac sluiced through the field and was still on the bridle when taking up the running two out. Coasting clear thereafter, Black Mac crossed the line twenty-three lengths clear of the remainder without his rider having to resort to any sort of pressure.

    Black Mac, who raced off 93 at both Folkestone and Uttoxeter,will be significantly higher if and when he is entered in the UK again - a minimum mark of 115 can be fully justified as things stand at present.

    JOB DUN

    The Flat turf season in Britain is well and truly over, but top-class racing can be found somewhere in the world pretty much all year round, writes Stephen Hindle. Over in Hong Kong last week it was the annual end-of-season shindig, and I'm not just talking about the meeting of the world's top handicappers!

    Having assessed the Melbourne Cup with the view that the form was very solid, it was nice to see the first two from that race finish first and thirdin the Hong Kong Vase.

    The globetrotting Dunaden has had a terrific 2011, winning a Group 3 in April in his native France, and then going on to stamp himself one of the best middle distance-stayers around with victory in the Geelong and Melbourne Cups prior to this successful foray to Hong Kong. He represents a solid 118.

    A length and a half back in third in the Vase was Red Cadeaux, who followed up his fine second at Flemington with another excellent placed effort. His season started on the all-weather in early-April, when he was rated 99, but a long, progressive campaign has seen that mark climbto 115. His initial handicap mark, in 2009, was just 72. Yet to win above Group 3 level, he can surely put that right in 2012.

    Of the other British raiders in the Vase, Campanologist ran a decent race in fifth, though not for the first time he flattered to deceive. Jakkalberry and Redwood were a bit disappointing relative to their best form.

    Only Ransom Note ran for Britain in the Hong Kong Cup and he failed make any impact behind California Memory, who was known as Portus Blendium when trained in France. A figure of 120 was agreed for the winner, which means Cirrus des Aigles, though first home of the Europeans, was a somewhat disappointing fifth, having been assessed at 128 following his victory in the Champion Stakes. The lack of pace seemed to count against him, however, so he's probably worth forgiving the effort.

    TAT-TA

    Fairy tale endings are usually the stuff of fiction, but at Wolverhampton last Monday the admirable veteran sprinter The Tatling produced one of his own on his final racecourse start, writes Stewart Copeland.

    In typical trademark style, he came with a thrilling late run to snatch victory with his final stride - a fitting end to a wonderful career.

    He was notching up his eighteenth win in a 176-race career, which began back in May 1999; the undoubted highlight of them being his success in the Group 2 King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2004. He was unfortunate not to add a Group 1 success to his tally, runner-up in three successive Nunthorpes at York from 2003 to 2005, as well as finishing second in the Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp in 2004.

    A career high rating of 115 shows what a talented horse he was in his prime, but it was his toughness and enthusiasm for the racing game which made him such a favourite with so many racing fans these past dozen years, myself included. Let's hope The Tatling has the long and happy retirement he so richly deserves.

    This blog appears courtesy of britishhorseracing.com
    Ah! but a man's reach should exceed his grasp......

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    Fingal Bay kept his unbeaten record intact but probably didn't enhance his already lofty reputation when beating Ballyrock by a hard-fought length in the five-runner Bathwick Tyres Challow Novices' Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday, writes Martin Greenwood.

    Going into the Grade 2 event on a figure of 149 after impressing at Chepstow, Cheltenham and Sandown, Fingal Bay looked to have a straightforward task at Newbury against four oppenents who, though all winners last time out, had been contesting bog-standard novice races.

    Fingal Bay never looked likely to lose his 100 per cent record but he had to be kept up to his work all the way to the line to see off the persistent Ballyrock, though in fairness Fingal Bay was almost certainly idling in front.

    Another novice who is rated in the high 140s is the Irish-trained Sea Of Thunder, who was pulling away in style when falling at the last at Cheltenham's mid-December meeting.

    Since then the ‘winner' Deireadh Re and the runner-up Rev It Up have both been successful in handicap company and I have raised the original level of form by 5lb, meaning that Sea of Thunder would be a minimum of 144 on the assumption he would have won by only the seven-length margin he was clear at the time, though he was still travelling strongly and a rating closer to Fingal Bay's would seem more appropriate.

    I BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW THIS...

    Here are a couple of bits of trivia to start 2012, writes Dave Dickinson.

    When was Celestial Halo last beaten in a handicap? The answer is at York in August of his three-year-old career prior to finishing seventh in that year's St Leger.

    Partlyas a consequence of being three wins from three starts in handicap hurdles after his game success in Saturday's Totescoop6 Handicap Hurdle at Newbury comes a second piece of trivia. What was the last horse to give Celestial Halo weight and beat him over hurdles? Well, unless you count Sentry Duty at Doncaster in February 2008, when Celestial Halo was effectively conceding 7lb factoring in the 10lb weight-for-age allowance,nothing ever has.

    Twice in the frame in Champion Hurdles, Celestial Halo has often seemed below the very best at level weights, but these handicap wins off 165 in 2009 (he beat Binocular into third when runner-up in the Champion Hurdle earlier that year), and twice off 160 this season are a testament to his continuing class and enthusiasm.

    I have used Ubi Ace as my benchmark for his latest victory and put Celestial Halo back up to his highest winning mark of 165, both placed horses running cracking trials for February's Totesport Trophy. The runner-up, Torphichen, who was returning to hurdling for the first time in close to two years, is ideally suited by such testing ground. Third-home Ubi Ace really caught the eye with some immaculate hurdling and it is entirely possible that this lightly-raced hurdler would be better suited by a slightly less testing surface.

    Entries for the Totesport are next week and just maybe the first three on Saturday will lock horns at the Berkshire course again.

    HENDERSON CHASERS SHOWING SPRINTING SPEED!

    The Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton on December 27 was a thrilling race to watch, and despite the eventful nature of the race the right horse won, writes Mark Olley.

    The pace was very steady and coming to four out Oiseau de Nuit was leading, but the 'big two', Finian's Rainbow and Wishfull Thinking, were travelling ominously well just behind. The complexion of the race changed at this point as both made serious blunders. Wishfull Thinking was the first to recover and a big jump at thelast looked to have the race won for Philip Hobbs' charge, but Finian's Rainbow, who had been given plenty of time to recover by Barry Geraghty, swept by on the outside to win a shade cosily.

    The race was fairly straightforward from a handicapping point of view as the third and fourth, Oiseau de Nuit (152) and Takeroc (145), had five lengths between them and with the formerconceding 2lb they finished exactly as the pre-race figures suggested. The steady pace and jumping errors prevented the front two from pulling as far clear from this duo as I would have expected and as a consequence I have left Finian's Rainbow on his pre-race figure of 157.

    It was lovely to see Wishfull Thinking return to form after a couple of below-par efforts this term. However, I still had him running 8lb below last season's peak and have dropped him 2lb to a new mark of 162.

    Finian's Rainbow reportedly needed this reappearance and Captain Chris, in last season's Arkle, is still the only horse to have finished in front of Nicky Henderson's top-class chaser since he switched to fences. I willbe amazed if we have seen the best of Finian's Rainbow yet and I expect him to be capable of higher ratings when he tackles the best 2m chasers in stronger-run races.

    On the same Kempton card was the Grade 2 Wayward Lad Novices' Chase and this was basically a match between last season's Champion Hurdle runner-up Peddlers Cross and exciting chase recruit Sprinter Sacre. A blunder at the first from Peddlers Cross handed the early advantage to Sprinter Sacre and Donald McCain's gelding was always on the back foot from that point. Several great leaps from Sprinter Sacre heaped on the pressure and Nicky Henderson's six-year-old ran out a clear cut and hugely impressive winner.

    One hundred and sixty is the best figure that Peddlers Cross has achieved in his three chases to date and means his first published chase rating is 10lb lower than his current hurdle mark of 170. It is very hard to put an accurate figure on what Sprinter Sacre has achieved over fences so far, with two wide-margin wins, so at this stage he has a figure of 161. He will be kept to novice company for his next run over fences (he needs to have run three times over fences to be eligible to run in a class 2 or above handicap chase) and hopefully we can pin down a more accurate figure then.

    This blog appears courtesy of britishhorseracing.com
    Ah! but a man's reach should exceed his grasp......

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    Rankings reveal much to look forward to in 2012
    IT MAY seem strange for a January blog to concentrate mainly on Flat racing, but this week sees the unveiling of the World Thoroughbred Rankings for the 2011 season and both Phil Smith and Matthew Tester take the opportunity to put some of the headline figures into context.

    Elsewhere there's an above-average performance on the all-weather that is discussed, along with a mini-round-up from the jumps sphere.

    FRANKEL MY DEAR...

    The 2011 World Thoroughbred Rankings (WTR) were announced on Tuesday at a press conference at BHA headquarters in London, writes Phil Smith.

    They showed the outstanding quality of the horses that were trained in Britain last summer. For the first time since 1994, six of the top ten horses in the world were trained in Britain.

    This time it is Frankel 136, Canford Cliffs 127, Rewilding 127, Dream Ahead 126, Excelebration 126 and Nathaniel 126. Seventeen years ago it was Distant View 128, Maroof 128, Barathea 127, Erhaab 126, King's Theatre 126 and Lochsong 126.

    When the current WTR is added to its forerunner, the International Classifications which began in 1977, Frankel becomes the highest rated horse since 1997 when Peintre Celebre received 137 for his scintillating victory in that year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. He is also the second-highest miler everbehind El Gran Senor (138) in 1984 and the joint eighth highest-rated horse at any distance since 1977 together with Sea The Stars.

    Black Caviar (132) is the highest sprinter since Dayjur received 133 in 1990 and the joint second-highest female ever together with Miesque, Pebbles and All Along, with only Three Troikas (137) higher in 1979.

    Imagine a match over 7f between BlackCaviar and Frankel - who would be the winner? I suspect home advantage could be crucial as in Britain the mare would receive a 3lb sex allowance whereas in Australia she would get 2kg.

    HARD TO SPLIT THE JUVENILES

    A year ago we had joint two-year-old champions at 126 in Frankel and Dream Ahead, writes Matthew Tester.

    Both of them were well above the usual level needed to be a champion. And what an amazing year each of them had as three-year-olds much to our joy. The successes of Dream Ahead gave me great personal pleasure and Frankel all year was awesome in the best meaning of that word.

    This time we have joint champions at 119 with Dabirsim and Camelot. This is the lowest level for champion two-year-old in the modern era - from 1985 onwards during which the composition of the Classifications committee has remained unchanged. From that year onwards the ratings have been agreed by representatives of Great Britain, Ireland, France, Italy and Germany.

    Unlike a year before, there were no real standout performances by the juveniles. For much of the year I thought that Harbour Watchwould be the champion. After three runs he had already reached a rating of 117 but his leg injury stopped him from turning up for the big races. Camelot made a huge impression winning the Racing Post Trophy but he beat a small field of fairly unexposed horses. Dabirsim won two Group 1s in France but was never up against an exceptional opponent.

    Does this mean we are in for a dull 2012 with the three-year-olds? Not at all. The lowest previous champion in my fifteen years with the two-year-olds was Bago and he went on to win three Group 1s the next year including the Arc. Dr Devious was the lowest rated Dewhurst winner of the previous twenty years and he went on to win the Derby.

    Camelot, especially, looks a wonderful prospect for 2012, and if he does not step up to the mark then we are in for an exciting time unearthing dark horses who will. Bring it on.

    THE HUNDRED CLUB

    Three-figure ratings have been a rarity on the all-weather sprint scene this winter, so Oasis Dancer's success in the feature 6f handicap at Lingfield on Saturday made a pleasant change, writes Stewart Copeland.

    Trained by Ralph Beckett, the five-year-old was made favourite on the strength of his success over the same trip in a conditions race at Wolverhampton last month, earning a rating of 98 that day. He clearly showed that revised mark was far from beyond him, running out a decisive two-length winner from Fratellino, with recent course and distance winner Capone, a narrow third.

    Rated as high as 106 duringthe summer of 2010, his win at Lingfield represented a return to that level of form and Oasis Dancer is well worth another chance in Listed company with the 6f Listed Cleves Stakes at Lingfield in late February an obvious opportunity in that grade.

    JUMPS ROUND-UP

    The best quality middle distance hurdle race of the last week was the 2m4f mares Listed hurdle at Sandown on Saturday, writes Chris Nash.

    The race was run at an honest enough pace to believe that the form might have some substance and the finish was fought out by the two best fancied runners.

    Kells Belle (pre-race rating of 125) beat Kaffie (pre-race rating of 132) by a length and three quarters and, having met here at level weights, the obvious starting point would be to rate the winner 134 meaning that the runner-up would get 2lb for a near-two-length beating should they meet in a handicap next time out. I was reluctant to do this on two counts.

    Firstly Kells Belle has beenconsistent in handicaps this season off marks in the mid-120s so it might be a bit fanciful to suddenly assume that she has improved by as much as 9lb. Secondly the runner-up was given a very positive ride and, having been sent to the front at halfway, she was still travelling better than the winner on the run to two out before being reeled in late. It is fair to assume that in winning this race Kells Belle has produced a career best so some rise is inevitable and I have decided to rate her 132 - the same as the runner-up.

    A mention too for Star Of Angels, who won a competitive 0-135 handicap hurdle at Wincanton on Saturday off a mark of 128. This horse had run fourth in the Coral Cup at the 2009 Cheltenham Festival but then had two years away from the track. He showed little on his return to action at Sandown last month but his effort on Saturday confirmed that much if not all of his former ability remained.

    Two lightly raced novices with solid form (both on their handicap debuts) filled third and fourth positions so this form has some substance to it. The winner will go up 8lb to a mark of 136. Given that his fourth at the festival came from a mark of 137 then he has definite potential from his revised rating.

    Star Of Angels is trained by David Pipe so what chance we see him at the festival in March perhaps in the Martin Pipe Handicap hurdle over 2m4f for horses rated 0-145?

    This blog appears courtesy of britishhorseracing.com
    Ah! but a man's reach should exceed his grasp......

  18. #57
    Senior Member krizon's Avatar
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    Grey, surely the art of learning to do anything is to be able to relax in confidence, knowing that while doing it with less effort, you're still seeing off the opposition? That applies to pretty much any effort in life. I can't see any particular worthiness in expending more effort to effect the same result - win.
    Power is good. Control is better. (Lenin)

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    Opposition the key if Frankel is to beat 136
    This week's blog chiefly pays homage to the year of Frankel in the wake of the recent publication of the World Thoroughbred Rankings. Dominic Gardiner-Hill not only explains the reasoning behind his rating but also looks forward to 2012 and assesses his prospects for improving on that level. There were also a couple of potentially significant performances in the novice hurdle ranks in the last seven days, and our national hunt handicappersrun the rule over what impact those up-and-comers could have in some of the big races still to come.


    FRANKEL'S SEASON

    Having spent the last three months of the 2011 season playing the "party pooper" and telling the world and his wife that Frankel could not be raised from his post Sussex Stakes mark of 135, writes Dominic Gardiner-Hill, the publication of the 2011 World Thoroughbred Rankings saw him predictably confirmed as the world's best racehorse but with a mark of . . . 136!

    One of the advantages of having a month between the end of theseason and the start of the rankings conference in Hong Kong is that it gives the handicappers a chance to review the season as a whole, pull a few things apart and put them back together again.

    Having reviewed Frankel's season, particularly his victories in the Sussex Stakes and the QEII, and considered the treatment the rankings committee had given to other "superstars" such as Sea The Stars and Zenyatta, I submitted a figure of 136 for discussion and it went throughunopposed.

    Given that both he and Sea The Stars showed very similar levels of form I felt it appropriate that he should be credited with the same mark as the Irish colt. I don't believe there is anybody in the world that can say with any certainty which is the better of the two and if I was framing a handicap involving the pair of them I certainly would not want either one of them to be conceding weight to the other!

    Having opened his season with 120-performance in defeating Excelebration (whose only three defeats of the season came to the hands of Frankel) in the Greenham at Newbury, Henry Cecil's colt elevated himself into the 'superstar' bracket with his devastating 2,000 Guineas display at Newmarket.

    Visually it was probably the most stunning performance I have seen but the race wasn't easy to rate with runner-up Dubawi Gold going into it rated 101 and third-placed Native Khan going in on 111. By hook or by crook, using ten-year averages for the race, I came up with figures of 130-117-116 for the first three home - figures that would stay with the second and third all year and be their final rankings mark.

    On to Royal Ascot and I suspect I wasn'tthe only person who felt somewhat deflated after the St James's Palace. Yes, he won the race but those that had come to witness another demolition job were left disappointed. Plenty of column inches were taken up on the ride he received that day and Idon't intend on adding to them here but suffice to say Frankel was way off his best in taking the race with a performance of 120, with neither runner-up Zoffany (118) or fourth placed Neebras (115) doing anything to advertise the form subsequently.

    It is an interesting aside that Frankel's Guineas performance was the best since Zafonic in 1993 and he went on to put up the best ever performances seen in both the Sussex and the QEII, but his St James's Palace effort was the second lowest winning performance in the race in the last ten years with only Azamour's 118 in 2004 being rated lower.

    The clash that everybody wanted to see - Frankel vs Canford Cliffs - materialised in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood and Frankel stamped himself the best horse on the planet with a stunning five-length success. Using third placed Rio de la Plata as a guide to the level of the race my figures were 136-123-118-113, suggesting that the hanging Canford Cliffs had not performed to his best of 127 in chasing home his younger rival. Subsequent news that he had been retired due to injury helped explain the performance although nobody can doubt that the best horse prevailed.

    There is always a worry when giving horses stellar marks that if they fail to reproduce them people will start questioning their previous form - there was no such need to worry with Frankel. Another barnstorming display in the QEII - when he once again beat old rival Excelebration by four lengths and increased his superiority over 2,000 Guineas runner-up Dubawi Gold from six lengths to seven and three-quarter lengths - confirmed his standing at the top of the pile, my figures for the race being 136-125-115-117.

    So whatdoes 2012 hold for Frankel and how high can he go? It would appear a seasonal debut in the Lockinge at Newbury is on the cards followed by a probable step up to 1m2f. As far as his rating is concerned, a lot of it will depend on the quality of opposition around and how far he can beat them.

    Remember at 136 he is already entitled to beat the world's top 1m2f performer Cirrus Des Aigles (128) by five lengths and So You Think (126) by six lengths so he will have to put up a mightyperformance to increase his mark further. That is some thought to keep us warm during the winter months!

    COTTON PICKING

    Warwick's Grade 2 Neptune Investment Management Leamington Novices' Hurdle over 2m5f, while usually lacking strength in depth, always has a couple of exciting prospects and the latest edition was no exception, writes Martin Greenwood.

    Prior to the race our ratings suggested it was a straight fight between Cotton Mill (rated 139) and Highland Lodge (rated 140), both of whom were two wins from two over hurdles. With Highland Lodge going off at a shade of odds-on, it was perhaps surprising that Cotton Mill was as big as 11-2, with another unexposed sort Ambion Wood (rated 129 going in) the second favourite.

    In the event all three of the aforementioned had pulled clear with Same Difference leaving the back straight, but Highland Lodge was the first beaten and dropped out tamely from the second last leaving the impression that something wasn't quite right. Cotton Mill and Ambion Wood fought out a good finish thereafter and only half a length separated the pair at the line, with Cotton Mill holding on bravely.

    These races are never easy to be sure about with so many unexposed sorts in the field and for the minute I have rated the race around the standards that cover the contest in the last five years. I have Cotton Mill slightly below his pre-race figure but he will remain on 139. Ambion Wood has been raised 6lb to 135 and Highland Lodge is now 139, the same as Cotton Mill with the hope he fulfils the promise he showed on his first two starts. Obviously only subsequent events will tell me whether I am too high or low, and I will adjust as necessary over the coming weeks.

    THE PUNTERS' DARLAN?

    Following the Nicky Henderson-trained Darlan's easy fourth success from as many career starts in a novice hurdle at Taunton last week it was hardly a surprise he moved up the betting for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, writes Graeme Smith.

    I was rather taken aback by his promotion to second-favourite for the valuable Betfair Hurdle - formerly the Totesport Trophy - at Newbury in February, however, with his chance in that race dependant entirely on a handicap mark that had yet to be released.

    There was a reasonably wide range of possibilities for assessing that Taunton novice hurdle. Darlan won by half a length but it's very subjective how much extra he was value for having never left the bridle and anyone who snapped up a price for the Newbury race was taking something of a leap of faith on how I'd view things.

    As it happened, I seemingly took a higher view of the form than Darlan's rider Barry Geraghty, who pointed out the runner-up Jump City could be disappointing and others further back needed the run.

    Jump City had disappointed at 2m4f on his last two starts but his previous form around 2m has proved solid around a figure of 138 (I raised his rating 2lb back to that level) and I took the view Darlan was value for a winning margin in the region of eight lengths, raising his rating from 137 to 146.

    I think he could still be a contender for the Betfair Hurdle if standing up to the rough and tumble of markedly more competitive company but surely anyone who's already backed him would have been better off keeping their powder dry until they could make an informed decision.

    This blog appears courtesy of britishhorseracing.com
    Ah! but a man's reach should exceed his grasp......

  20. #59
    Senior Member Grey's Avatar
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    Very interesting. They seem to be saying that they chanced their arm slightly by submitting a 136 to the ratings committee, the same mark as Sea The Stars, and that they did it because they "felt it appropriate that he should be credited with the same mark as the Irish colt". Which all sounds quite political to me.

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    Sounds like a joke to me. They rated him 135, so why not at least have the courage of their conviction and stick with that? If they'd suggested 137, would it have gone through just as easily? 138? 139?

    And all this Sea The Stars stuff is nonsense. Frankel is (so far) an out and out miler, Sea The Stars was a middle-distance champion (yes, he won the Guineas on the way, but he was a 10-12f animal). There's really not that much comparison between them, other than they're both exceptionally good. It all seems to be based on subjective gut-feeling, which is unacceptable for an "official" handicapper.

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