Hugh Taylor

In Hugh Taylor's latest blog, our form expert highlights a quartet of three-year-old all-weather races that may be worth following.

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A return to horse racing seems a long way off at the moment, but it’s probably worth trying to keep our minds sharp for when the sport does resume, so with that in mind, I’d thought I’d highlight a handful of all-weather 3yo races that the clock suggests might work out better than a bare glance at the form might suggest. The aim is to highlight races, rather than individual performances, that might work out well.

I’m going to start with two races run on the same card, at Wolverhampton on March 9th. The first was the novice event over the extended 1m1f trip.

This was the third race on the card run over this distance. The winning time was identical to that of 73-rated Clem A in the 4yo+ handicap, and 0.11 seconds faster than the one recorded by 74-rated Glorious Caesar in a competitive 3yo handicap, but the novice event was run at a significantly steadier pace.

Winner The First King had pulled clear with the favourite in what may have been an above-average claimer at Deauville on his debut, but it’s fairly straightforward to suggest that runner-up Cityzen Serg, who came from further back and showed obvious signs of greenness, is of more interest going forward.

That pair pulled well clear of the third, John Gosden’s debutant Moohareeba, who like many from the yard might progress significantly next time, whilst the well-beaten fourth and fifth, Dark Scimitar and Pot Of Paint, were both having their third run and might leave this form well behind next time.

The second 3yo race on the Wolverhampton card, a 6f novice median auction event, probably produced at least two prospects who were above average for the grade. The race produced a very ordinary time figure, but that was down to a very steady early pace, and the sectional times stand up very well compared to the preceding class 6 3yo handicap.

The winner of the novice race, Mister Snowdon, reached the 2f pole in a time at least two and a half seconds slower than that of the winner of the handicap, Rocketeer, but the final times of the two races were identical. If able to be seen visually, the two runs would have seen Mister Snowdon make up 15 lengths on Rocketeer.

You’d expect a 3yo novice winner, even of a median auction event, to be a lot better than a 0-60 3yo handicap winner, but this is still a huge chunk of ground to make up.  Both the winner Mister Snowdon and runner-up Merry Miller came from mid-division, and each are value for much more than the two-and-a-quarter length margin they recorded over third-placed Fuchsia.

Indeed, their final 2f times were both in the top four recorded all winter at Wolverhampton according to Total Performance Data, not far behind the high-class Global Giant (and timing the race directly from the Sky Sports Racing video footage suggests an even faster closing 2f in the 3yo novice event than that published by TPD).

Given the first two were both making their racecourse debuts, it will be interesting to see how far they can progress from this very promising beginning.

The 0-85 3yo handicap run at Lingfield on February 14th featured quite a few relatively exposed horses, but I think it was a strong race for the grade.

It was run in a decent time figure despite not being run at a notably strong gallop, and the closing sectionals of most of those that finished in the first five merited a significant upgrade on that overall time figure.

The form has already worked out well, with fifth-placed Bendy Spirit and third-placed Odyssey Girl finishing first and second respectively in the traditionally competitive 3yo handicap run on Lincoln Trial day at Wolverhampton.

The first two home, Badri and Phuket Power, haven’t run subsequently, but were put up only 4lb and 2lb respectively and remain interesting from a handicapping point of view, whilst fourth-placed Zim Baby pulled hard next time and is now eligible for 0-70 events.

The 6f maiden run at Wolverhampton on 14th March looked a fairly modest event, with the two joint favourites already having handicap marks in the 70s, and with less than a length separating the first four home at the line, the original impression might be of a weak race.

However, the race was run at a strong pace and produced a good time figure. Indeed, the winning time was only 0.21 seconds slower than that recorded by the 92-rated Fizzy Feet in a 0-95 handicap over the same course and distance earlier on the card. The latter race was run at a somewhat steadier gallop, but the time of the maiden was still a good one considering it had looked a moderate event beforehand.

The handicapper has seemingly rated the race around the 74-rated third Never Dark, leaving him on the same mark, whilst awarding the winner Aweemaweh (who came from a long way back in a strongly-run race and looks sure to stay further) a mark of 76. Whilst not getting carried away with the form, it’s possible that it may be stronger than might normally be associated with a blanket-finish sprint maiden.

Hugh Taylor
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