Sectional Spotlight

Using Chelmsford's Fast Track Qualifier last Wednesday as an example, Simon Rowlands explains how it's possible calculate sectional times when there is no TPD data available. He also looks ahead to the weekend's feature events at Lingfield and Kempton.

  • Thursday 16 February
  • Blog
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There has been just the one Fast-Track Qualifier since the last ATR Sectional Spotlight, but it was an informative one. The Mobile Loyalty Free Bets Fillies’ Conditions Stakes at Chelmsford City on 8th February completed the set of four FTQs for the 32Red-sponsored Fillies & Mares at Lingfield Park on Good Friday.

The successful filly, Ashadihan, had won at Group 3 level on polytrack at Lingfield in May and is the kind of individual that is being attracted to lesser races as part of the All-Weather Championships. She is now rated 113 by Timeform and gets a guaranteed berth on Finals Day, but would face sterner opposition from other FTQ winners Muffri’ha (114) and Realtra (116), both of whom lined up in Dubai today (Thursday).

There are no Total Performance Data sectional times at Chelmsford City, but At The Races’ use of an on-screen clock with live pictures enables the enthusiast to calculate their own without much difficulty.

Due to issues with setting off that clock at precisely the moment the stalls open, you need to take the overall time from what is given officially but engineer sectionals from the difference between the on-screen time as the runners pass the sectional and as they pass the line.

In this race, the latter is 82.19s (see image below), which can be rounded to 82.2s. 

Sectional Times

The leader in the Chelmsford City race passed the 5f marker at 23.2s on the on-screen clock (so 59.0s before the end), the 4f marker at 35.4s (so 46.8s before the end), the 3f marker at 47.0s (so 35.2s before the end) and the 2f marker at 58.3s (so 23.9s before the end). Other furlong markers cannot be seen properly.

These figures can be converted to finishing speeds according to the equation (100*T*d)/(D*t), where “T” is the overall time in seconds, “d” is the sectional distance to the finish in furlongs, “D” is the overall race distance in furlongs, and “t” is the sectional time to the finish in seconds.

In the instance of Ashadihan’s race, we get race finishing speeds of: 102.0% for the last 5f; 102.9% for the last 4f; 102.6% for the last 3f; and 100.7% for the last 2f. Those are for the leader, not the winner, but give an indication of the pace of the race overall.

With those figures all over 100% (which is close to the par for this course) it identifies that the race was steadily-run, if not greatly so.

Ashadihan showed a smart turn of foot to come from a couple of lengths down at the 2f marker to lead less than 1f later, but Volunteer Point lost no ground on her in the final quarter of the mile having started from further back. It is likely that fourth-placed Golden Amber was helped a bit by the run of the race, having led/disputed the lead.

The same manual process identifies the opening race on the same Chelmsford City card as having been run at an overly-strong pace (96.1% finishing speed for final 3f). In that context, fourth-placed CAPTAIN K ATR Tracker, who travelled strongly up with the pace and went on early in the straight, probably did well.

Captain K has been beaten at Lingfield since, but that was just 24 hours later and he can be forgiven that. As a general point, Irish-trained runners in British Flat handicaps are over-performing markedly at present with an impact value (success compared to chance) of 2.6 and 65% of rivals beaten (where 50% is par) since the start of the year.

That Lingfield card also saw the latest appearance of Sutter County, one of the best horses on the All-Weather this winter but a non-winner since last April. On this occasion he was beaten by Tomilly, but it would be difficult to find a messier sprint race, as the sectionals show.

The 21.2s recorded by Tomilly is lightning quick but was matched by fourth-placed WINNING WAYS ATR Tracker, who was poorly positioned and encountered traffic also: he looks the one above all others to take from the race.

Wolverhampton was the venue of a major eye-catcher on Monday, when DANDILION ATR Tracker got too far out of her ground before flying into third. You did not need sectionals to pick this one out, but sectionals quantify just how fast the filly finished: 23.0s for the last 2f here is shifting.    

The FTQ roadshow stops off at Cagnes-Sur-Mer in Southern France on Saturday, when a listed qualifier for the Sunbets Mile takes place. Nearer at home, the two most valuable All-Weather races on Saturday are the Betway Best Odds Guaranteed Plus Handicap at Lingfield Park at 3.30 and the 32Red/EBF Stallions Breeding Fillies’ Handicap at Kempton at 7.45.

The former may be no Fast-Track Qualifier, but the gelding FAST TRACK looks to have a good chance in it of following up his win at Wolverhampton a month ago, in a race which was notably truly-run (as confirmed by the TPD sectionals) and produced a useful time.

There are small doubts surrounding most of Fast Track’s rivals, and he should be able to track the pace (likely to be set by Zac Brown) from his inner stall before striking to good effect in the home straight.

The latter contest has drawn a field of 14, which should mean that the draw plays its part at 7f with a significant bend mid-race. There is also the prospect of a strong pace, with confirmed front-runners Maggie Pink and Threebagsue in attendance.

MAKE MUSIC may not be ideally drawn in stall 10, but she is versatile in terms of run style and should be much more at home in this company than she was in that Ashadihan FTQ on her latest start, when she showed up well for a long way. She had won three of her previous runs in handicaps and still figures on a feasible mark.

Sectional Spotlight
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