Voting for yourself to have an extended holiday seems to be popular with the political classes right now, but I can claim to have been at it before they were, as I stood down these ATR Sectional Spotlights for a few weeks due to “having other things to do”.
Following “recess”, there are a few matters to report, including an apparently imminent launch of sectional times at Ascot and some initial sectional figures Tweeted by York racecourse last Saturday.
It also seems as if the vast majority of guests on Sunday racing current affairs programmes are in favour of wider availability of sectional times, even if they themselves do not use them. I am more hopeful than previously that progress will be made in this area, perhaps with greater guidance from the BHA at last.
In the meantime, however, if you wanted to analyse events from last week’s Newmarket July Meeting in a sectional manner you still needed to do it the old-fashioned way: with video and stopwatch.
There are a huge number of insights to be gleaned if you are prepared to put in the work, but I will focus here on the three 6f Group races, which produced the following summary figures for the principals.
Firstly, the heavily-watered ground was probably not as fast as given officially: Timeform went for “good” on all three days, and I agree with them.
Conditions were near-identical on the first two days (so, for the first two races above), but the wind, such as it was, was slightly more against the runners for the July Cup.
The conclusions that may be drawn include that both two-year-old races were well-run, with those winner Finishing Speed %s close to par, but that the July Cup was not, and was in fact slowest of the three races to halfway despite being marginally quickest overall.
The July Stakes was a reasonably fair scrap, in which Advertise was a decisive and deserving winner. It is by no means certain that Calyx – who beat Advertise in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot when the two raced on opposite sides of the course – is markedly superior at this stage.
Some of the runners behind Pretty Pollyanna in the Cherry Hinton Stakes (as I prefer to call it) were hampered, but others paid the price for going so quickly. Nonetheless, that overall time for the winner is seriously impressive and suggests it would be wrong to treat her own performance as a fluke.
U S Navy Flag injected significant pace in the July Cup when leading around halfway, but the real eye-catcher was fifth-placed Sioux Nation, who finished well against a pace bias and should at least have shaken up his stable-companion.
A reminder that Total Performance Data sectionals from several other courses already exist, and are displayed and contextualised elsewhere on this site. That is the sort of direction for British racing to head in, surely.
Those TPD sectionals provide a treasure trove of information for the sectional enthusiast, and I will call out a trio of eye-catchers in recent weeks. There will be others out there if you go looking for them.
HAABIS ran a remarkable race at Wolverhampton on 2 July, looking all over the winner and still several lengths clear 1f out but run down on the line by Aphaea, who had not been able to live with him for most of the way. Sectionals confirm that the former did too much too soon, and he can finally get off the mark at a similarly modest level.
Sectionals for race 2 at Windsor on 16 July have not been published yet, but when they are they should confirm that GARRUS shaped encouragingly on his debut, gaining slightly on two more experienced rivals despite being not well placed when the pace increased. The Jeremy Noseda-trained son of Acclamation should have a race or two in him.
In the following race at Windsor on 16 July, SASSOON did well in third on his debut at a trip that should prove short of his ideal, getting behind but finishing to good effect, earning a “hot” icon on the Sectional Tools tab on the ATR results. This was not a strong contest, but better will surely be forthcoming from the Paul Cole-trained two-year-old.
Small fields are becoming the norm in British and Irish racing as the drought really begins to take hold, but there are winners to be found out there still.
Hopefully, they will include HAZAPOUR, who runs for the first time since finishing fifth in the Derby at Epsom – where he shaped as well as anything – in the Group 3 Meld Stakes at Leopardstown at 7.15 on Thursday. The drop in trip to 9f should not harm him and may even help him.
Still later on Thursday, ENCRYPTION goes in a three-year-old handicap at Doncaster (9.05) and is fancied to build on his recent return at Newbury, where he ran as if the race was needed. The son of High Chaparral promises to come into his own at this trip of 12f or further.
The less said about NATALIE’S JOY’s performance at Royal Ascot, the better, other than to point out the obvious that everything about her stunning debut at Goodwood suggests she is easily good enough to win in Listed company. That is the task for the Rose Bowl Stakes at 3.35 at Newbury on Friday, and only Emaraaty Ana looks good enough to get anywhere near her if she is at her best.