This is the sixth year of the All-Weather Championships, which means two things: 1) it works and 2) there’s now quite a bank of data to analyse for each of the divisional finals, all at Lingfield. The past informs the present, to some degree, and therefore it’s possible to put in the groundwork ahead of this Good Friday by picking apart some of the patterns and trends from the last five years, as a context for this week’s festivities.
The longest race on the day, by far, and therefore the most impressionable, with time for the pace to impact, and for the pace to impact on the time…and the result. By means of illustration, of the five renewals of the Marathon, there was over eleven seconds’ difference between the slowest (Mymatechris in 2015) and fastest (Winning Story, 2017) editions.
It’s no coincidence, given how the race tested finishing speed rather than stamina, that Mymatechris was the only Marathon winner stepping up in trip on the day, the rest all used to the distance, and three of the four British-trained winners had experience of Lingfield.
It’s not necessary for a French stayer to come to Britain to qualify, but it might have helped Funny Kid last year (runner-up at Wolverhampton), for the travelling involved if nothing else, and fellow Frenchie Amade has followed his lead and then some, by winning (in style) at Kempton and Chelmsford. Ryan Moore has already been booked.
Replay: Amade scores at Deauville in November.
Four is the magic number. All bar one on the roll of honour for the Fillies And Mares were aged four. The odd one out was the five-year-old Realtra in 2017, also an exception as the only ever Finals Day winner who came via the Carnival in Dubai.
Over this trip (7f) at Lingfield, it’s not much more than a furlong to the turn, increasing the importance of both pace and positioning, and every winner of the Fillies And Mares raced in either the first or second wave, Living The Life and Fresles making all. The latter was drawn in 3, the same as Volunteer Point in 2016, and, from stall 2 last year, Diagnostic stalked and pounced.
A Timeform rating less than 100 has twice been enough to win it, though that won’t happen this year, prospectively the best field assembled for the Fillies And Mares.
Reviewing the past winners of the Sprint, the name that jumps out is Richard Fahey, successful in three of the five editions, including twice with Alben Star, who was runner-up (to Pretend) in between wins, while 2017 hero Kimberella was also third last year. And last year was the best race – let alone the best Sprint –that there’s been so far on Finals Day.
City Light beating Kachy (clear of Kimberella) was, in Timeform terms, the highest ratings generated on Good Friday, the winner coming within a whisker of subsequently adding the Golden Jubilee at Royal Ascot in the summer, while Kachy has looked formidable this winter.
With Kachy in mind, it may be something, it’s probably nothing, but no front-runner has so far won the Sprint. The Final has tended to be a remake of the fast and the furious, and those who’ve bided their time that bit more have emerged on top, perhaps no connected coincidence that the only winner originating from a draw lower than 5 was Pretend.
Replay: City Light defeats Kachy in the 2018 Sprint Final.
It goes almost without saying, if not stressing, but the three-year-olds on a roll are the precious commodity here: the last three winners all arrived on the back of a hat-trick. Hence the front end of the market has been the place to look, and in its five-year history the winners have included three favourites and one second-favourite.
William Haggas has won it twice, with Ertijaal and Second Thought, both of whom followed up from the Spring Cup, this year’s winner (likewise Haggas) Fanaar ineligible for the Final, but the one who was second to him – beaten just a neck – is coming, Deep Intrigue. His trainer, Mark Johnston, despite being so active through the All-Weather season, has yet to win a race on Finals Day.
Like the Sprint, over the same trip, only once in five years has the winner come from an inside draw (1-3).
The primary trend here has to do with the primary power of ability, and the primary path that joins the Classic to the other prestigious event of the All-Weather season, the Winter Derby. Every Classic winner had contested the Winter Derby, and three – Tryster, Grendisar and Convey – did the double.
Grandeur in 2014 had been an unflattering eighth in the Winter Derby before winning the Classic as favourite, and Victory Bond last year upgraded from second in the Winter Derby to first in the main event. In short, as the name implies, class counts in the Classic, the short-priced runners getting the job done, short priced with good reason, and Wissahickon will be shorter still than Tryster was (1/2).
Replay: Wissahickon wins the Winter Derby.
Favourites have dominated the Classic, but favourites have flopped in the Mile, no market leader winning it in five attempts, including reversals at odds of 2/1, 11/8 and 6/5. There’s no standout this year who’ll be such a price.
Lucky Team last April, the surprise package (at 40/1) from France, was the first time in the history of the Mile Final that the winner hadn’t competed in the race the year before. Competition often brings congestion and track craft has proved important, though that’s Lingfield generally, not just related to this specific race.
It pays to look a little deeper in the Mile, and, of the five winners, only Captain Joy had been successful on its preceding start, also the exception rather than the rule for the race in that he raced near the pace.