Sectional Spotlight

Sectional timing expert Simon Rowlands runs the rule over eight of the most promising winning two-year-olds from the season so far.

  • Wednesday 07 August
  • Blog
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A public appeal on Twitter for the names of promising winning two-year-olds to be subjected to timing and striding analysis prompted a small avalanche of responses, ranging from the obscure (and likely to remain obscure) to the perhaps-too-obvious.

But one message came through load and clear: plenty of you out there are interested in uncovering the next big thing, or perhaps in having someone to blame when that next big thing fails to transpire (Visinari, anyone?!)

So, without further ado, here follows a list of eight such horses, starting with some of their vital statistics (derived from video analysis) and followed by pen portraits.

Stride length tells you as much about the conditions under which performances were recorded as about the individual horses themselves, but stride frequency (aka “cadence”) is associated with stamina.

Promising two-year-olds 2019

ABSTEMIOUS (2 runs, 1 win: K Ryan)  

Abstemious probably beat little in a novice median auction at York last time, but – boy! – did he beat them handsomely, quickly up to speed and coasting in the lead after halfway to score by five lengths. That was on soft going, but he had shown plenty on good to firm on his debut. His striding suggests he may not be an out-and-out sprinter. Star Quality: 2/5

AL MADHAR (1 run, 1 win: R Hannon)

Al Madhar won what may prove be the most interesting 2yo maiden of the season so far, with Al Suhail, Tsar and Eshaasy others to shape notably well in behind (eighth-placed Tammani has already won since). His time was decent, his sectionals even better, and he showed a long stride that was not entirely down to the fast ground conditions. That max/min stride is what you might expect of an 8f/10f performer in the longer-term. Star Quality: 3/5  

ALPINE STAR (2 runs, 1 win: J Harrington, Ire)

A half-sister by Sea The Moon to Alpha Centauri, among others, Alpine Star won well and in a useful time at Galway last week though sectionals show that she raced efficiently. It remains to be seen what she beat, with runner-up Santiago, untypically for an Aidan O’Brien-trained horse, having no big entries. Alpine Star raced a bit freely early that day and strides like a miler overall. Star Quality: 2/5   

CAYENNE PEPPER (2 runs, 2 wins: J Harrington, Ire)

Cayenne Pepper has beaten only 10 rivals in wins at Leopardstown then Tipperary but looks a useful prospect, with the latter coming at the chief expense of Royal County Down, who has won both his starts since. The overall time was nothing special at Tipperary, but Cayenne Pepper ran fast late – as can be seen from the sectional – which is encouraging for a daughter of Australia who is likely to be best at 8f this year and 10f/12f next (borne out by that low maximum cadence). Star Quality: 2/5

MILITARY MARCH (1 run, 1 win: S bin Suroor)

The horse in this list with the longest stride (in part down to the firm ground on which it was achieved), Military March impressed when beating Jacksonian in a useful time in a maiden at Newmarket on his only start, coming home fairly quickly. A brother by New Approach to the middle-distance stayer Clongowes, he strides most like a 10f horse to date, but these are early days. Star Quality: 3/5     

PERSUASION (1 run, 1 win: C Hills)

Persuasion ran Goodwood’s 7f on Saturday only 0.72s (around four and a half lengths) slower than the very useful three-year-old Land of Legends managed soon after, in what looks quite a strong maiden for the track. Sectionals show he raced efficiently (the layout of Goodwood means we can expect finishing speeds in excess of 100%) in coming late from mid-division, and his striding suggests he may get 8f but not necessarily improve for it. Star Quality: 2/5

PIERRE LAPIN (1 run, 1 win: R Varian)

Given how babyish and gangly Pierre Lapin appeared on his only start at Haydock in May, it says plenty for him that he managed to quicken smartly to win by three and a half lengths, with his sectionals confirming he was value for more. The form of that novice is okay, rather than better, but Pierre Lapin will surely do better. He strides like a miler and has several big-race entries at 6f/7f. Hopefully his absence is down to connections taking their time for he looks a fine prospect. Star Quality: 4/5

ULTRA VIOLET (1 run, 1 win: E Vaughan)

There is much to like about a filly who won her only start, a maiden at Newmarket in June, by eight lengths, but a number of caveats need to be stated regarding Ultra Violet. She beat little (third-placed Airbrush unplaced twice then beaten off a mark of just 66 since), the overall time was unexceptional (several lengths slower than Emily Goldfinch later on the card), and the sectionals show that her rivals stopped late in the day on watered ground. You would expect Ultra Violet to stay 8f – indeed be suited by it – on breeding, but her striding that day was notably fast and most like a sprinter.  Star Quality: 1/5

In summary, I am far from convinced that any of the above measure up to the likes of Too Darn Hot and Sangarius, who came under the microscope at this time last year and who looked to have star quality in abundance from the outset. But things could look a lot different at the other end of August, when I will do a follow-up to this piece.

In the meantime, all of the above are of interest, though some more than others. Let’s hope we see more of Pierre Lapin in particular, and perhaps Al Madhar and Military March, in the weeks ahead.

Sectional Spotlight
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