Sectional Spotlight

Sectional timing expert Simon Rowlands gives his verdict on Aussie wonder mare Winx’s win in the Chelmsford Stakes at Royal Randwick, the 19th consecutive victory of her career.

  • Tuesday 05 September
  • Blog
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Early risers among ATR viewers witnessed something special last Saturday morning when the Australian mare WINX made it a remarkable 19 wins in a row in the Chelmsford Stakes, broadcast from Royal Randwick in Sydney.

On paper, a length defeat of the smart if somewhat limited Red Excitement is not among her greatest victories. Yet, she once again showed the qualities which make her not just a very good horse but one who can overcome adversity.

The adversity in this instance was that she was asked to run down a rival who had stolen a march without doing much running, and who was not stopping. Winx achieved just that, though it was only close home she went past Red Excitement, with none of the others able to get near.

We can judge how efficiently she and Red Excitement ran by converting their individual sectionals into finishing speed %s (speed in the closing sectional as a % of the average speed for the race overall): over 100% shows that a horse was quicker at the finish than for the race overall, while under 100% shows the opposite.

Winx’s second half of the 1600-metre race went by in 44.08s, which is 106.7% finishing speed, while Red Excitement’s went by in 45.92s (102.6%). The former’s last 200m was 11.22s (104.8%) officially and her last 100m was 5.66s (103.9%) unofficially.

We can also estimate from the course layout and topography (two 90-degree bends, a slight drop early and a slight rise late, according to Google Earth) that the par finishing speed for the second half of a 1600-metre race at Randwick should be around 101.4%.

As the figures confirm, Red Excitement was a lot nearer to that figure and thus ran a good deal more efficiently than did Winx. Indeed, he did so at every stage of proceedings, right through to the end.

Sectional-upgrading methodology – based on the difference between that par finishing speed % figure and the figure each horse recorded – points to Winx being four or five lengths better than the result.

That would take her close to the 134 rating Timeform has on her and which identifies her as the best active female in the world (though Enable may still have a major say in such matters).

It is also interesting to see that Winx’s late burst of speed came in similar style to when she won the Warwick Stakes on this course, which was analysed in a previous ATR Sectional Spotlight.

Sophisticated video analysis has her stride length at an average 23.6 feet and her stride turnover at a remarkably high 2.57 per second in the closing stages of the Chelmsford, which are only fractionally below her figures (24.5 feet, 2.61 cadence) of a fortnight earlier. Speed is a direct product of the two.

Winx can quicken like a top-class sprinter and yet her stamina does not stop at a mile. It is a rare and potent combination and is making for thrilling viewing besides anything else.

She will go for a third Cox Plate at the end of October: make sure to set the alarm!


There has been some decent action covered by TPD sectionals on the ATR website since the last of these Sectional Spotlights, with the following performances particularly catching the eye:

LAW AND ORDER finished best of all in a steadily-run Listed race at Windsor on 26 August. While he probably wouldn’t have beaten Second Step anyway, he does look a good type for the All-Weather Championships this winter, having won at Lingfield in April and faced some stiff tasks since.

MOOJANED went into the notebook at Southwell’s first meeting since the spring on 28 August, by no means alone at the course in paying for going for home too soon. A course winner, he is, somewhat surprisingly, lower in the handicap on AW than turf.

FLORENCIO , on the other hand, is higher on AW than turf, but with justification. He might have capitalised at Wolverhampton on 31 August but for getting a bit too far back, losing out in a finish of short heads despite putting in a very swift 11.5s final furlong.

In addition, a good illustration of the effect of pace on overall times was given by the three 7f races on turf at Lingfield Park on 30 August. Dream of Delphi recorded a notably good time – the best of the trio of winners – in what was a strongly-run nursery, but his closing sectionals were slower than those of Teppal and the promising Gavota. The finishing speed %s spell out plainly what went on.


The last ATR Sectional Spotlight picked out SOCIETY POWER as a youngster of significant promise on his debut at Windsor, and the William Haggas-trained colt gets the chance to make amends on Wednesday in the 4.55 at Lingfield Park.

Buffer Zone and Mountain Guard have shown plenty of promise, while Jupiter has been second on his last two starts, so this promises to be an informative contest. They’ll need to be good to beat Society Power, though.

Entries have not been made for Saturday’s QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown at the time of writing, but the race – which will be shown on ATR – looks like being a cracker.

I suspect it will take more winning than implied by the fact that Churchill is odds on for the race and could well end up laying him. He is a good horse, of that there’s no doubt, but he does not have much to spare over a number of his potential rivals at the weekend.

There will be a special edition of this ATR Sectional Spotlight on the back of the weekend’s main events, including at Chantilly, where it will be Arc Trials Day. Make sure to check back in on Monday.

Sectional Spotlight
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