With all the understandable excitement surrounding jump racing last Saturday afternoon, I hope you did not miss one of the great all-weather performances at Lingfield Park.
Five minutes before Buveur D’Air did his thing in the Contenders Hurdle at Sandown Park (OK), and 20 minutes after Apple’s Jade did her thing in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown (wowser!), a horse of a similar age called KACHY did something pretty sensational just down the road from the former.
In winning the listed Betway Cleves Stakes (a Fast-Track Qualifier for AW Finals Day here on Good Friday), Kachy smashed a six-furlong course record that has been tackled by thousands of horses, some of them seriously good, over the years. His time of 1m 08.32s beat the previous best by 0.43s, or more than two and a half lengths: a big margin in sprinting terms.
Contrary to what one commentator once opined, course records are not regularly broken by ordinary horses thus apparently rendering all time analysis pointless. But they do require context, notably in terms of the speed of the surface.
On the day in question, Wissahickon missed the 10f track record by 0.54s, but he did so while putting up a Group-class effort in winning the Winter Derby Trial. No other winner on the card got within 2.39s of lowering a previous best: that Kachy ran so fast was not down to the conditions being super-charged.
Putting times into context is the province of timefigures, of course, and timefigures say that Kachy is very fast indeed. Timeform has assessed the time merit of Kachy’s Saturday performance at 125, which is the highest figure recorded by an all-weather performer in Britain. Ever.
Only two horses had previously broken the 120 Timeform timefigure barrier, and one of those was Kachy here in 2018 (the other was Gitano Hernando in the Winter Derby Trial in 2010, also on 123).
Of course, we now have other ways of measuring what Kachy did on Saturday, including sectional times. By my reckoning, there are 1190 individual horse performances at 6f at Lingfield in the Total Performance Data archive. Kachy is the fastest overall among them, self-evidently, but he is also close to fastest for fully four of the six sections.
His time of 13.4s in the opening 1f on Saturday is joint-7th-fastest of those 1190; his time for the second 1f of 10.7s is joint-9th-fastest; his time for the third 1f of 10.8s is joint-6th-fastest; and his time for the fourth 1f of 10.6s has been bettered only once.
All of those are inside the top 1.0% of the entire cohort: put them together and you have something pretty close to unstoppable. Kachy was 0.30s behind the fastest opening 1f, but 0.10s ahead after 2f, the same after 3f, 0.30s after 4f, and a massive 0.60s ahead of the next-fastest time with 1f to go.
Kachy is not just a left-handed-slightly-downhill-track bully – he was second in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at Ascot in 2016 and third in Haydock’s Group 2 Temple Stakes last year – but give him those conditions and there are few horses who could even get near him.
It is arguably a surprise that Kachy has not yet been tried abroad – Sha Tin’s turning 1200 metres would be ideal if he managed to go the other way round – but instead British racegoers get to see him regularly on their own doorsteps. That is something to cherish!
There will be no Kachys on display at Friday’s all-weather meetings but plenty will be bidding to prove the adage that “little fish are sweet”.
Of no small interest is IVORY CHARM in the otherwise-ordinary mile handicap at 3:10 at Southwell. The Richard Fahey-trained filly comes here on the back of three runs in minor events, in which she has finished no closer than fourth, the latest an eye-catcher on this course in January.
On that occasion, Ivory Charm turned in a 12.5s final 1f, which has been bettered at 7f on the track only twice in the TPD era and not at all by a horse so young. She was beaten less than a length at the line by the promising Eve Harrington and should really come into her own with an extra 1f to travel (her striding suggests she will get even further).
The mile apprentice handicap at 5:10 at Newcastle is a more intriguing affair than first catches the eye. The majority of the field have doubts about trip, surface or form (or a permutation of those), while the likely favourite, Porrima, could be pretty short.
It is worth siding with KING OSWALD, especially if all eight stand their ground and each-way is a valid option.
A course-and-distance winner, he shaped quite well at Wolverhampton last time and is likely to get the good pace that he ideally needs. Jockey Toby Eley is better than most of the alternatives and gets to claim a valuable 5 lb.