Belated happy first birthday to the new Public Opinion which celebrated its first birthday last week! Its focus on independent opinion and critical thought fills a void in local media.
Regarding contributions from yours truly, comments received have been concentrated on the “Clocked-in” department. Many are curious as to how I can so confidently assess daily track variants. One reader asked “How do you know the NW2 or NW# standard times for Caymanas Park?”
Anyone can do it, but it’s neither easy nor computer compatible. Standard times are simply the averages of all posted times for each grade at each distance over an extended period. You’ll need a record of official times categorized by grade and distance for at least a year. Don’t try calculating an “average” or “standard” time until you have at least ten entries and never include any time posted on a wet track. Averages must be related to races run under similar conditions and “good” or “fast” always produces more and more accurate bases for calculations.
One last thing (said Lieutenant Colombo). Average times are speed dependent, so it’s futile using them in pace races including all beyond 1,600 metres. These numbers are best when limited to races up to 1,200m but I do compromise and calculate standard times (and related speed figures) for distances up to 1,600m.
Once you know the standard time for each distance/grade, it’s a short step to calculating track variants for any particular race day. Calculate the differential (on a per-furlong/200m basis) between the posted time and the standard for each race; eliminate the fastest and slowest differentials and calculate the average differential among the rest. That’s your Track Variant for that day.
One cautionary word regarding the 1,000m straight course: It’s so different from all round races (pure speed; partly uphill; changing wind) that it needs a track variant of its own and requires some amount of “feel” because there aren’t enough straight races per race day for an accurate average differential. So speed aficionados must incorporate not only the differential in race times but also individual differentials between the time produced by top finishers and the time they were expected to run based on past performances in order to come to as accurate a 1000m straight variant as possible.
Now you know how, you don’t need me. Take this as your Public Opinion birthday gift!
It’s time for our regular review of local performances based on REAL times.
Abbreviations: CT = “Corrected Time”; TV = “Track Variant” (a calculation of the effect of track conditions on official times to arrive at “real” or “corrected” times); TVs are in fifths of a second; “minus” means a fast track; “plus” means a slow track (e.g. -2 means fast by 2/5ths of a second). Variants beside individual horse’s names represent the difference between its official time and the grade standard.
Can’t sey mi neva dida warn yu!
This department has been profitable for careful readers. For January 26, I wrote:
“Disability Charm was visually impressive on debut…lengthening stride and readily drawing clear final 200m…! His CT (1:00.3) is only 2/5ths of a second faster than nw2 but his breeding [by winner of 4 U.S. Stakes races, Soul Warrior, out of Runin on Empty (Go Rockin Robin), herself a daughter of Triple Crown winner Simply Magic] and manner of victory makes him an exciting prospect over further. Wouldn’t it be cosmic justice if a son of Soul Warrior out of a daughter of Go Rockin Robin won a first classic for longtime horse racing supporter, investor, owner and singing sensation Cocoa Tea?”
Impatiently ridden by a young apprentice next time, she succumbed over 1,200m to Band of Gold’s late burst but, in the Thornbird stakes, patiently ridden by Robert Halledeen, she stayed on best of all to win at 5/1!
Prince Consort Stakes pointers were also available as, for February 23’s issue, I included two notebook horses. First, from February 20’s card:
“Another Vigorous (-12) entered the 2,000 Guineas reckoning with a high class performance….making all and defeating two highly regarded importees by 8 ½ lengths/2 ¼ lengths…! His CT is already 1/5th second faster than Overnight Allowance standard and a full second faster than nw3. By Legal Process out of a mare by Kentucky Derby winner Go for Gin, it could prove dangerous to assume he won’t stay a mile. One to follow!”
“El Profesor (-10) finally got off the schneid…making all and keeping on last 200m…clocking 1:20.0! His CT (1:20.3) is 3/5th second faster than nw2 so he can win again”
Another Vigorous, poorly ridden but tremendously brave, lost a stirring last 200m duel to El Profesor who created a massive 32/1 upset and a huge payday for your humble scribe as the quiniela returned $1,981.00 and the Exacta $5,461.
Lord, it’s hard to be humble!
Other recent Clocked-in successes include Simply Outrageous (advised on January 26 as having “a nw3 to win”; won an 1820m nw3 on Ash Wednesday at 4/5) and Old Braeton (advised on February 9 as “a cinch at 5yonw3/0T… over 1300 metres”; placed twice at $450,000 claiming and then, returned to restricted allowances, squandered 5yonw3/OT on March 7 over 1300m at an overlay price of 6/5). Pay attention, grasshoppers, THIS is the sanctum sanctorum and the real winners’ circle:
As usual, we look at two recent race days:
March 7, 2018 [TV -0.3/200m (Rd); -1 (str)]
Old Braeton (-9) confirmed himself better than this grade (Race 3; 5yonw3/OT; 1300m; TV-2) by beating revitalized Top Eagle (-8) by 1 ¼ lengths (pair 9 ½ lengths clear). The winner’s CT (1:20.4) is 4/5ths second faster than $450,000 claimers so he’s not finished winning BUT the one to take from the race is the 2nd whose CT (1:21.0) is 6 lengths better than the grade. Compensation awaits!
March 10, 2018 [TV -0.2/200M (Rd); +5 (Great Manipulator/Adoring Lady) +2 (Peking Cruz) -1 (Crucial Appeal)]
Storm Valley (-7) improved for stepping up to 1400m (Race 4; 4yonw3; TV-1) wearing down Ten Carats (-6) in 1:26.3! His CT (1:26.4) is 2/5ths second faster than nw3/0T and 1/5th second faster than $550,000 claimers. The 2nd’s CT is one second faster than nw3 so losses on her are only lent.
Miss Formality (-8) was impressive on debut (Race 8; 3yo(f)msw; 1200m; TV-1) making all easily from Peggy’s Vision (-3 ½). The winner’s CT (1:14.1) is 1/5th second faster than open nw2 so a nw2 restricted to fillies should be hers while the 2nd’s CT (1:15.0’) is good enough to win a fillies maiden (Standard 1:15.3)
Overseas Betting Opportunities (OBOs)
Our Cheltenham portfolio, predicated on expected spring ground, was discombobulated by climate change producing testing conditions throughout. However, Barney Dwan, advised when last we met as having “his best chance….in the Close Brothers” managed 4th at a good each way price of 15/2.
Readers also received important hints regarding the Gold Cup: “Gold Cup betting has become tight as punters suspect…Native River would derive more benefit on soft than early favourite Might Bite. My ante-post Gold Cup selection, Our Duke is very ground dependent and wouldn’t be advised if the going stayed soft”
Our Duke floundered on the sticky ground and was pulled up but Native River produced a stamina-filled performance to make all at 5/1. I also assured punters that Arkle favourite Footpad’s connections declared “all is well” despite an alarming drift in ante-post betting. He duly obliged. So Public Opinion readers should’ve survived a trappy festival.
Turf flat racing has returned and the traditional first big handicap, the Lincoln, is on at Doncaster tomorrow (1535GMT). As usual, the draw could be decisive and soft ground proclivity as important as fitness. Five of the last ten (including the last two) winners have been 4 year olds. Eight of the last ten winners carried at least 8st 12 lbs (124lbs/56kg) and seven 9st (126lbs/57kg) or more.
This suggests Fire Brigade who showed an impressive turn of foot to win a 0-105 mile handicap (Leicester; October 13); is still on the upgrade; and seems perfectly suited for this. At longer odds, Lahore [reportedly lost a shoe when 3rd in a listed mile (Redcar; October 7) but previously looked a group winner in waiting] could surprise.
We must close with a notebook horse from the Festival:
Beware The Bear [8yo b.g. Shantou – Native Bid (Be My Native)] did exceptionally well in Tuesday’s Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade 3; 3m 1f) staying on determinedly into fourth after making mistakes; losing position early; and coming from far off the pace. He looks a dour stayer and has a big handicap in him probably on soft.