Sectional Spotlight

Simon Rowlands provides sectional timings analysis of last Saturday's two Fast Track Qualifiers at Lingfield and looks forward to Thursday's FTQ at Newcastle, the 32Red Casino Conditions Stakes.

  • Thursday 17 November
  • Blog
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In last week’s introductory blog, we looked at the ways in which At The Races’s industry-leading sectional-timing features can lead to a better understanding of how a race panned out, as well as point in the direction of good decisions and good bets in the future.

The provision of Total Performance Data’s sectional times – allied to ATR’s pace heatmaps, finishing speed %s, efficiency graphs and more – enables the expert and enthusiast alike to look at racing on the all-weather in a detail never possible before.

The two Fast-Track Qualifiers at Lingfield last Saturday illustrate the potential.

Both the Betway Golden Rose Stakes, won by Lord of The Land, and the Betway Churchill Stakes, won by Team Talk, resulted in faster-than-par finishes, as shown by those high finishing speed %s (the runners’ speed at the end of the race compared to their average speed for the race overall) and the red colouring of the heatmap late in the race on the “sectional times” tab.

However, the races were dissimilar in other respects, and that is important to an understanding of which horses will have been suited or unsuited by how things unfolded.

The pace of the former race is identified as having been “slow” early on, and horses at or near the front tended to remain there. Runner-up Mythmaker seemed to perform above himself at 16/1, but enjoyed the run of things to a degree. Only one rival (Outback Traveller, who went as if amiss) ran the final furlong slower than his 11.6s.

By going to the “sectional tools” tab it can be seen that Lord of The Land’s finishing speed (108.5%) was highest, and furthest from the near-100% that denotes efficiency, while Mythmaker’s (104.9%) and fourth-placed Gracious John’s (104.6%) were lowest. The first-named deserves to be marked up more than the last two.

Horses like Aeolus and Realize, who were both in rear early, and lagging well behind the curve on those efficiency graphs, were soon up against it the way things developed.

Meanwhile, the Churchill Stakes may have featured a fast finish, but it also featured quite a fast start. The “early pace” analysis of the race leader is “even to fast” in this instance. Berkshire – and, to a lesser degree, Metropol and Flambeuse – did plenty at that stage and will have paid for it later.

With a fast finish and a fairly fast start, it follows that the middle of the race was anything but that. While it will have helped to hang back early on, it should not have been an advantage to be still behind approaching the closing stages.

In that context, Team Talk’s move from last to first over the final two furlongs is remarkable. A 21.6s final quarter represents a red-hot individual finishing speed of 111.1% and the kind of raw speed that only a Group performer is likely to show at a distance as far as this 10f. 

Indeed, Team Talk’s final two furlongs was faster than any horse at this year’s AW Finals’ Day in March, sectionals for which can be found here. The Godolphin-owned gelding is one we should hear plenty more about in the months to come.

One horse who managed to run even faster later in recent days was Good Omen, who managed 21.5s when winning the opener on the same card. Just in case you were sceptical about the “set steady pace” close-up comment for the colt, an unambiguously “green-early, red-late” heatmap and a stratospheric 118.1% race finish should convince you of that fact!

One beauty of sectional analysis is that the principles which underpin it apply to ordinary racing every bit as much as they do to the elite. Other eye-catchers in the past week include Sans Souci Bay and Flaming Marvel, who each had the highest finishing speed %s in their respective races at Lingfield and Wolverhampton on the 11th of the month, with the latter doing so against a clear pace bias.

Kempton got in early with a FTQ on Wednesday evening of this week, the listed Hyde Stakes going to Ennaadd, who was gaining his fourth win in a row. For all that the favourite, Sovereign Debt was below form in third, Ennaadd won cosily and in a useful time: he already looks a strong contender for the Sunbets Mile on Finals’ Day.

Newcastle follows suit on Thursday afternoon with a five-runner Fast Track Qualifier, the 32Red Casino Conditions Stakes (12.50), in which Kananee clashes again with Mutahaady, having beaten that one readily by three quarters of a length in a nursery at Kempton recently.

Kananee is 3lb worse off, which makes it more interesting between the pair, but he could face even sterner opposition from NUCLEAR POWER, who was second on the AW at Chelmsford in August before running well in better races. The latter is the pick at the likely odds. 

There are no FTQs at the weekend, but plenty of competitive AW racing at a lesser level. The concluding race at Lingfield on Saturday – the Betway Sprint Handicap at 5f – promises to be a cut-throat affair with several pace-forcers in attendance.

The more patiently-ridden course-and-distance winner FLYING BEAR could well reward each-way support.

Sectional Spotlight
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