Sectional Spotlight

Sectional timing expert Simon Rowlands shortlists runners to follow that recently caught the eye on the clock and has two fancies in action at Lingfield on Thursday.

  • Wednesday 04 October
  • Blog
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What a fantastic Arc weekend that was, not least for the large British and Irish raiding party, and for their numerous fans!

All but one of the Group 1s went back across the English Channel/Irish Sea, and the highlight of all was the emphatic win of the British filly ENABLE in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe itself.

Enable’s story started on the all-weather at Newcastle, of course, on an otherwise-dull Monday afternoon in November, 2016, when she won Division 1 of the Maiden Fillies’ Stakes.

Her career has since taken her to glory at the likes of Epsom, The Curragh, Ascot and York, so it is ironic that that humble first success remains the only occasion on which her individual sectionals were recorded officially.

Total Performance Data had her running fast early and fast late – hitting a peak of 39.8 mph in the penultimate furlong, as shown on the ATR website – but rather less fast in between. The filly she beat that day, Gallifrey, has won just one race from six since.

The next All-Weather Championship – the fifth in all – gets under way at Newcastle on 24 October. No promise can be made that there will be another Enable among the participants over the following five months, but you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be some significant pointers for the future in there somewhere.

Enable’s individual sectionals were not recorded officially in the Arc, either. But leader – or “race” – sectionals are part of the furniture in France and are displayed on-screen, including on pictures broadcast by ATR.

This is what they tell us of the main races across the two days at Chantilly (Saturday’s figures include dolling out on the home turn estimated to have increased race distances by 38 metres).

Arc weekend 2017 "race" sectionals

Race Winner Dist (m) Time (s) Last 600m Fin Speed* Early pace
ChaudenayICE BREEZE3038m197.88s37.59s104.0%Steady
RoyallieuTHE JULIET ROSE2438m155.55s35.65s107.4%Slow
D WildensteinTAAREEF1638m100.19s36.35s101.0%True
M BoussacWILD ILLUSION1600m97.47s36.12s101.2%True
J-L LagardereHAPPILY1600m98.51s37.11s99.5%Strong
Arc de TriompheENABLE2400m148.69s36.31s102.4%True
* "Fin Speed" is speed at the end of race as a % of average race speed

The closer those finishing speeds are to par – which is usually just over 100% – the truer the pace and the more likely the result is to be reliable. Such figures, and many others, underpin the TPD data displayed on ATR on a regular basis in Britain, of course.

There is a bit of friendly – or usually friendly – rivalry between the “visuals boys” and the “sectionalistas” in British horseracing, though using both your eyes and the data has to be better than using one or other in isolation. A trio of horses in recent times should have shown up on the radar of both, as it happens.

SINGULAR QUEST shaped promisingly enough on the sectionals, and even more promisingly on the visuals, when third at Wolverhampton on 23 September: his first run for over a year and for a new trainer. Check out the performance on ATR’s video archive and remember that he was running off marks in the 70s only a few starts ago but went here off just 59.

In the same race, HUSSAR BALLAD finished as well as any into fourth to indicate that he is up to another win from a mark in the mid-to-low 60s. That his from-behind racing style will have been disadvantaged by the run of the race is illustrated by the “slow” early pace on the colour coding and his individual finishing speed of 112.3%.

BLESSED TO EMPRESS was well backed for a nursery at Lingfield on 26 September but got little chance to show what she could do, short of room up the rail in the closing stages. She was still not beaten far into seventh and managed easily the fastest individual sectional of the race – 11.1s for the penultimate 1f – along the way. She can place at least in similar company when things go her way.

Fresh from a 10/1 winner in the last column – well, if I don’t mention it, no-one else will! – I will chance my arm with a couple of each-way selections at Lingfield Park on Thursday.

Both the 3:30 over 5f and the 4:35 at a mile promise to be cut-throat affairs, with plenty of early pace on. The early pace is primarily in stalls 7 to 9 for the former contest and the hope is that the jockey on ROUNDABOUT MAGIC in stall 10 will take back more than is sometimes the case and try to pick off his rivals later.

Roundabout Magic has his quirks, but is a three-time course-and-distance winner returning here after having shaped well at Goodwood last time. He can make the first three if both he and his jockey are on their best game.

FANTASY QUEEN is even more of a hold-up type, and that could play into her hands when the anticipated strong early pace abates in the later race. A consistent sort, she ran creditably on her only previous start on Polytrack, at Kempton in April, and comes from the red-hot Eve Johnson Houghton yard.

Sectional Spotlight
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