The last week saw the completion of the Fast-Track Qualifiers for the Betway Marathon and the 32Red 3YO Final, which will be two races of what promises to be an exceptionally strong All-Weather Finals Day card at Lingfield Park on Good Friday, 14 April.
Total Performance Data sectionals do not exist for either race, but it was possible to take manual sectionals by the methods explained previously on these pages. They show that both contests featured fast finishes and tested speed over stamina.
Watersmeet readily dismissed Winning Story (a previous FTQ winner) in the two-miler at Chelmsford City, but in a slow time and with a 107.9% finish according to Timeform, and there might still be a question mark about his stamina if the Betway Marathon proves to be well-run.
The 32Red.com Stakes at Dundalk the following evening was an even more tactical affair, with Visionary – the sole British raider – quickening smartly to account for Rock In Peace with a 33.4s last 3f and 111.3% finish. In that context, Visionary’s overall time was by no means bad, and he may not be the forlorn hope for Finals Day that a strict interpretation of this form would imply.
That Dundalk meeting last Friday was run in fairly wild conditions, but, wind-assisted or not, the time recorded by Primo Uomo in winning the opening handicap was eye-catching. He broke the 5f track record previously held by Caspian Prince and ran 32.5s for the last 3f, which is the joint-fastest sectional on record at the course according to Timeform.
A fast sectional at the end of a reasonably-run race, like that, is perhaps the most important thing to look out for in ATR’s sectional coverage, as running quickly at the end of a race can be otherwise simply a product of running slowly earlier on.
The latter was the case with Ray’s The Money at Newcastle on Saturday, when he registered a remarkable 126.2% finishing speed at the end of a race run at a crawl early. However, the distinction of fastest winner’s finishing speed at the course remains with Royal Flag (129.2%) in a bizarre contest on 25 January.
Fast sectionals at the end of a reasonably-run race is what we got with the week’s only listed contest, the 32Red Spring Cup at Lingfield Park. SECOND THOUGHT ATR Tracker and Sutter County scooted away from their rivals late on, with the former putting in a seriously fast 21.3s last 2f (110.1% finishing speed) and an overall timefigure of 100 according to Timeform.
No surprise, then, that Second Thought heads the ante-post betting for the 32Red 3YO Final, for which he qualified by beating Sutter County and Tomily at Kempton in January: it should take a good one to beat him in that.
Second Thought is worth putting into your ATR Tracker (if he is not there already), and so, hopefully, are the following pair.
BOUCLIER ATR Tracker caught the eye of the stewards when third at Newcastle recently on his first start for in-form Michael Appleby (a dozen winners in the past month), and also shaped well in sectional terms in an unevenly-run race. He is off a lower mark now than when he last won, in June, and is worth looking out for at up to and including this trip of 7f. He has been withdrawn from a race at Newcastle this evening (Thursday).
KODIAC’S BACK ATR Tracker did well to reach second to all-the-way winner Geological at Dundalk last Friday having got behind from a wide draw, with manual sectionals confirming that he ran far from efficiently. It is a while since the David Marnane-trained gelding last won, but he is another who has slipped in the weights.
There are two FTQs for the Sunbets Mile over the next couple of days, at Dundalk and at Wolverhampton, which will leave just two Dundalk FTQs to come on 24 March.
Friday’s Dundalk race is the Matthews.ie Qualifier, for which, disappointingly, only five have been declared, and three of those are trained by Damian English. Texas Rock is probably the form pick, but he is one of a trio that has been off for more than 150 days. All in all, this looks too tricky for betting purposes.
Saturday’s contest at Wolverhampton is the sunbets.co.uk Lady Wulfruna Stakes, a listed contest at an extended seven furlongs and a far more competitive affair. My Target has been going great guns at Lingfield this winter and should again be a major player, as should Yuften, last seen when winning at Ascot on Champions Day in October.
However, both are drawn wide, and recent results at Wolverhampton show that is far from ideal. KEYSTROKE is only a bit better berthed in 7, but put up one of the sectional performances of the winter last time when rocketing home at Kempton in 33.8s for the last 3f, and is taken to cope with the step up in class.
Earlier on the Wolverhampton card there is an intriguing race for the sunbets.co.uk Lincoln Trial, a race in which a wide draw is also likely to be a disadvantage.
Examiner has been on the sectional radar for some time but is beholden to the run of the race and may not get much pace to aim at again. It is well worth checking out the race at Newcastle last month in which Holiday Magic finished second, with Realize, Supersta and Steel Train behind, a messy affair in which the first-named got the run of things.
One who did not get the run of things at all that day was STEEL TRAIN, who can be expected to perform much better here and is put up as the selection back at a mile.