Sectional Spotlight

Sectional timing expert Simon Rowlands gives his verdict on the main talking points from the All-Weather this week - the controversial contest at Wolverhampton last Saturday, the Betway Winter Derby plus the performance of €1.4m Breeze-Up purchase Walk In The Sun.

  • Thursday 01 March
  • Blog
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It would not be normal to lead off one of these pieces with a detailed dissection of a Class 4 on a Saturday night at Wolverhampton, but that race – the 32Red Casino Handicap at 7.45 – provided arguably the all-weather story of the week.

Corazon Espinado beat Battle Lines by a length, with three-quarters of a length back to Carp Kid. TPD sectionals show that the race was quite slow in the early part and quite fast at the finish. The result might just have gone the other way if both had raced efficiently, but there is little else to report.

However, the real story of the race took place at the start, where Carp Kid’s stall opened only after the other runners were under way. He soon recovered to race in mid-division, but clearly he had to expend more energy to do so than if he had taken up that position on level terms.

It is possible to establish exactly how much Carp Kid was inconvenienced at the start – I make it a delay of 0.45s – and how much he was beaten at the end (0.27s according to the BHA’s delayed results service). It may be noted that the former is greater than the latter.

If you backed Carp Kid, and thought he would be treated as a non-runner and that you would get your money back, there was bad news: he wasn’t and you didn’t. The stewards’ enquiry concentrated on the rule regarding voiding of the whole race – arguably a red herring in this instance – and not of declaring an individual horse a non-runner.

There is a reason for this, and that is, as far as I can establish (with the help of the BHA Press Office), stewards are only authorised to declare a horse as a non-runner when it has been “prevented” from starting due to faulty stalls, not one that has had its chance compromised – perhaps irretrievably – by the same.

Carp Kid clearly started the 7.45 at Wolverhampton. He just as clearly forfeited more time at the start than the margin by which he was beaten.

Whether that should have led to his being declared a non-runner is more open to debate – I tend to think he should have been, though there are competing interests of owners and punters, as well as the integrity of racing, to consider here – but as things stand there was no provision for him to be.

The BHA needs to look again at its rulings in this area as soon as possible.

The stewards were also in action at Lingfield Park earlier last Saturday, depriving me and my follower(s?) of an 8/1 winner by demoting MR OWEN from first in favour of MASTER THE WORLD in the Betway Winter Derby. They were right to do so.

Both horses showed good late speed in a race that started off quite slowly – as illustrated by the TPD sectionals – but Mr Owen hung right in the closing stages and clearly prevented his rival from doing his best when it mattered.

With less than four lengths covering the first nine in a messy contest, it is safe to say that the result could be different another day, for all that the first two deserve the most credit on this one.

It is not often that you come across a €1.4m Breeze-Up purchase running on the all-weather in the bleak midwinter, but that is the case with WALK IN THE SUN, who followed up his short-head defeat of First Contact at Kempton on his debut with a much easier success over three rivals at Lingfield on Tuesday.

The handsome son of Street Sense made all to win by seven lengths, including a 10.9s furlong approaching the home straight, though he did hang somewhat at around that point.

Overall, he raced quite efficiently (gets a “B” grading on the “Sectional Tools” tab of the ATR page) and was pushed out, so I remain to be convinced how much quicker than this – for which I have a timefigure of 101 – he can run at this stage of his career. It usually takes a figure of at least 112 to get placed in the Irish 200 Guineas, for which he is entered.

Visuals (yes, I sometimes do visuals) tell you that he is a good mover, something which will have played its part in that sale price, as striding as well as sectionals are pored over at Breeze-Ups these days.

The TPD striding data confirms that his peak average stride length (a hefty 26.8 feet) was far in excess of his rivals’ but that his peak average stride frequency (2.27 strides per second) was the opposite. Speed is a direct function of these two elements, of course.

It remains to be seen how much all-weather (or should that be “most-weather”?!) racing takes place in coming days, but if Lingfield Park on Saturday goes ahead then there should be some decent fare.

It is generally acknowledged that Atletico is A Winner Waiting To Happen, after unlucky seconds at Newcastle and twice at Wolverhampton this year. That win could come in the 5f Betway Handicap at 2.55, for sure, but another unfortunate defeat is also a possibility in a race with little obvious pace and in which Atletico is drawn in stall seven of eight.

ENCORE D’OR, who has the inside berth, may be the one to capitalise, having found only Gracious John too good for him – and by just a short head – last week. Encore d’Or won off a mark just 2 lb less than this at Chelmsford last summer.

Sectional Spotlight

Lingfield 14:55, 3 March 2018

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