Handicappers' Blog (7 October)

The head handicappers from the British Horseracing Authority review the action from Arc weekend at Longchamp and analyse the Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket.

  • Tuesday 07 October
  • Blog
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A notably gallic theme to this week’s blog as we consider some of the top performances from Arc day and discuss British filly Integral’s repelling of a three-pronged French raid.

Whilst Treve’s Arc-winning rating is embargoed until the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings release on Thursday there was a host of other top-class action on both sides of the Channel and the best of it is discussed at length below.

HAVE WE FOUND A CHAMPION?

So where are we after the Arc weekend in the search for the two-year-old champions? Matthew Tester reports…

I was really impressed with the win by Found in the Prix Marcel Boussac. She definitely stepped up on her previous best of third in the Moyglare and is now a contender for top honours amongst the fillies. I and my international colleagues have her and Tiggy Wiggy each rated 116 or 117 but we have not yet agreed which should be which or even whether one of them is definitely better than the other. I look forward to the debate.

With the colts you sometimes get years when you are already pretty sure who your champion will be and you are just hoping that they deliver in their final outing of the year. However this is a year when the big races to come like the Middle Park and the Dewhurst are genuine battles to prove who should be top of the list.

Gleneagles finished first in Sunday’s Lagardere but his rating will probably not shift from the 115 that he was going in on, and we are always looking for 120+ for our champion. Gleneagles could turn out again at Newmarket, of course, where we are hoping to see Ivawood, Richard Pankhurst and Estidhkaar put their claims on the line there amongst others.

The other big two-year-old winner of the weekend was a big surprise to me. Peace And War, trained by Olly Stevens, had been second of four in a novice race at Haydock last time and a Grade 1 race in the USA on dirt was very innovative for her next foray. Despite trouble in running she landed the race, earned a 109 figure and heads to the Breeders Cup Fillies' race on dirt with a realistic chance. Hats off to all concerned for spotting the opportunity. It was Olly’s first ever Grade 1 win and an excellent piece of placing.


INTEGRAL ENJOYS ANOTHER DAY IN THE SUN

Integral’s claims to be hailed the leading older miling filly in Europe took a knock when only third behind Esoterique and Miss France in the Prix Rothschild at Deauville in August. However, subsequent reports of a bruised foot that day explained the below par performance and she got her season back on track when extracting revenge on those two French fillies with victory in the Group 1 Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday, writes Dominic Gardiner-Hill.

Under a finely-executed front-running ride from Ryan Moore, who basically turned the contest into a two furlong sprint, I have Integral running right up to her best of 117 which fits in extremely neatly with my pre-race figures for Miss France (115) and Fintry (114) – Esoterique (fourth) has posted a figure of 111 which matches up to neither her Rothschild win nor her subsequent fourth to Charm Spirit in the Moulin.

It was sad to see last year’s Sun Chariot winner Sky Lantern struggle once again and this appears to provide conclusive proof that she is not the same filly as last year when she ended the campaign with a mark of 119. The best she’s managed in 2014 is 111, which is her new mark, though reports suggest this was probably the last we’ll see of her on the racecourse in any case.

MOVE TIMES IT RIGHT

The 2014 renewal of the Group 1 5f QNB Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp was a really messy race and resulted in a blanket finish where less than two lengths covered the first twelve home, writes Chris Nash. The pace appeared to be honest enough with the horses that raced handiest wilting late and as they retreated through the field several of the hold-up horses were denied racing room when they most needed it. I have no doubt that plenty of sets of connections will have left the race wondering what might have been if the gaps had gone the way of their horse. It is very likely that the form of this race will not prove to be reliable.

There was a British-trained winner with Move In Time, who was providing David O’Meara and Danny Tudhope with a second Group 1 sprint success after G Force had won the Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock last month. He arrived as a consistent sprinter but seemingly just below the top draw and was rated 107. He prevailed in a finish of heads from the French-trained Rangali (pre-race 118 in France, though I have him lower) with Moviesta (pre-race 112) and Spirit Quartz (pre-race 106 in France) also involved.

The nature of the race meant it was never going to be straightforward to level but some guide to the form was seemingly provided not only by Moviesta but also by Mirza (fifth) and Sir Maximilian (seventh) who both appear to have run close to their pre-race ratings of 109 and 108 respectively. This suggests Move In Time recorded a figure of 113 in achieving this career highlight.

As mentioned earlier several horses looked unlucky not to finish closer and can perhaps be rated better than the bare result suggests. The favourite Sole Power has a running style which makes him something of a hostage to fortune and he got little luck this time in eighth. Last year’s winner Maarek completely blew the start whilst Pearl Secret got no run at any stage. The last-named crossed the line on the bridle in fourteenth but was beaten only two and a half lengths.

HIGH JINXES CADRAN RIVALS

It was a case of third time lucky for High Jinx, as he tasted success in the Qatar Prix du Cadran for the first time on his third run in the race, writes Stephen Hindle.

Second in 2012, connections were not put off by a fifth-place finish in 2013. Indeed, the Cadran has been High Jinx’s aim all season, with two preparatory races in France coming into this, including one at Longchamp itself.

The plan was executed to perfection as Ryan Moore made full use of the six-year-old’s relentless stamina, making the running and holding on by a neck from Bathyrhon and in the process reversing the form from the Prix Gladiateur last month, when High Jinx was third to that rival.

Whilst probably not a renewal of the highest quality, this year’s Cadran looks rock solid form. I have High Jinx returning to his best figure of 112, which he achieved in the 2012 Cadran behind Molly Malone (initially I rated that performance 113 but I pulled down the race by 1lb in 2013). High Jinx also posted a performance of 112 on our figures when second to Times Up in the 2012 renewal of the Lonsdale Cup at York.

Underlining the solid nature of the form of this year’s Cadran, I have Bathyrhon running to 111, within 1lb of his figure from his victory in the Gladiateur.

Pale Mimosa has been a bit disappointing in her two starts since lowering the colours of Estimate in the Yorkshire Cup and whilst third in the Cadran is no disgrace she appears to have run to a figure of 107 and perhaps isn’t as good as I thought she was at York.

Whiplash Willie had been off for the best part of three years prior to his reappearance in May and has had a tremendous season, posting another 108 here and making it a first and fourth for British-trained runners.

There was also British interest in the other big staying event during Arc weekend, the Qatar Prix Chaudenay. Vent de Force winner of the Melrose Handicap at York’s Ebor Festival, took his form to a new level by finishing a half-length second to Auvray in this Group 2 event restricted to three-year-olds. He goes up a stone to a mark of 106.

Handicappers' Blog (7 October)
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