Sectional Spotlight

    Simon analyses the striding data of the two-year-old Group contests on Future Champions Weekend at Newmarket and has two selections plus analysis online for Wednesday.
  • Monday 15 October 2018
  • Blog

That sound of a door closing shortly after three o’clock on Saturday afternoon was the last Doubter leaving the building after TOO DARN HOT had just scooted up in the Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket.

It was possible, if not advisable as it happens, to pick a hole or two in the colt’s successes at Sandown and Doncaster previously, but a clear-cut defeat of a previous Group 1 winner in Advertise and a previous Group 1 runner-up in Anthony Van Dyck leaves precious little room for dissent.

Too Darn Hot did it despite things not entirely going his way, boxed in and racing quite keenly for a long way, briefly looking in trouble in the penultimate furlong then quickening away. As Too Darn Hot’s jockey, Frankie Dettori, put it when describing that race-winning burst of speed: “he moves his legs really fast!”

Indeed he does, and that detail deserves to be of more than academic interest where the future is concerned. Leg speed, or “cadence”, and stamina are closely linked, as the Total Performance Data striding figures to be found in the results section on this site have illustrated repeatedly.

Sprinters “rev” quickly, usually at over 2.5 strides/second, while stayers do so more slowly (and, crucially, manage to switch off for large portions of their races). Some, very rare, horses – such as Winx – manage to do a bit of both, but a high peak cadence is unsustainable for any great length of time.  

This understanding pointed to Saxon Warrior (peak cadence of 2.40) and Roaring Lion (2.45) having significant stamina doubts before The Derby at Epsom this year. Too Darn Hot strides really fast, more quickly than either of them.

The following are the peak stride lengths and cadences for the first three in the two-year-old Group races over the two days of Newmarket’s Future Champions Meeting, derived from sophisticated video analysis of the final three furlongs of each race.

Those speedsters in the Cornwallis Stakes turned over pretty quickly, which is what they need to do to excel at the minimum trip. Sprinters have longer strides than may be appreciated visually, but there is a limit on how long that stride can be and high turnover is needed to compensate (stride multiplied by cadence gives speed).

Pretty Pollyanna predictably found the trip of the Fillies’ Mile beyond her (though only after touching evens in running), having previously been recorded with a cadence as high as 2.54 strides/sec. The two who beat her stride more typically like staying juveniles, but not necessarily like fillies who will relish 10f/12f at three.

PERSIAN KING has a length of stride – measured at 26.6 feet for his maiden win – usually associated with good horses, and his cadence is increasingly pointing towards him being even more effective at beyond a mile in time. He won the Autumn Stakes in a good time.

But it is that Speedy Gonzales leg speed of Too Darn Hot that really takes the eye. It is not so far behind the likes of Harry Angel (2.52), Battaash (2.57) and Dayjur (2.56) on my figures and it is a potent weapon, not least in getting a horse out of trouble against fellow milers.

I do not imagine it will get in the way of Too Darn Hot’s proving at least as good at a mile as at the Dewhurst’s seven furlongs, but The Derby may well be another matter.

By way of illustration, only 5% of horses with Too Darn Hot’s peak cadence of 2.49 which finished in the first three in older-horse handicaps in the TPD archive did so at distances beyond 10 furlongs.

Too Darn Hot is proving well-named in terms of his ability to crush the rivals put in front of him. But it could be that he is too darn hot in other important respects, also.

The racing on Wednesday is predictably low-key in a week which will climax with Champions Day at Ascot, though an added bonus if you get to Wetherby is that you can meet members of the Horseracing Bettors Forum in person (“bonus” in inverted commas? Ed).

Saeed bin Suroor runs an interesting one in the opener at Nottingham at 1:30, with DUBAI ICON having finished sixth in a notably hot contest at Goodwood on his only previous start.

The first three from that race have all gone in since, and Dubai Icon recorded a fair time and some even better sectionals that day. This looks a decent chance for him to get off the mark.

The Beckford Stakes at Bath at 2:55 is a listed event with several useful fillies in the field of 14. It promises to take some winning, but ALWAYSANDFOREVER should be there or thereabouts at a 14f trip that is likely to suit her.

She has been running well at this level this summer, other than when getting stuck in the mud at Galway last time, and she looks just about to have the measure of her rivals if back to her best.

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