You need some bad weather in order to appreciate fully the sunny days, and some valleys from which to admire the peaks, but I am not sure that British horseracing really needs a week as dull as this one in order to leave us all pining for the Cheltenham Festival just gone or impatient for the start of the flat “proper” at Doncaster on 30 March.
In the circumstances, it might have been a good idea to start the flat season a week earlier. Instead, there is not a single all-weather meeting between Wolverhampton last Saturday evening and Lingfield this coming Friday.
There have, however, been a few distractions for those prepared to look beyond their own borders, including the first Group race of the year in France on Sunday, the Group 3 Prix Exbury at Saint-Cloud, in which the Godolphin-owned/Andre Fabre-trained SOLEIL MARIN ran to something like 114 in beating his stable-companion Magny Cours.
Soleil Marin had previously been beaten comfortably by Trais Fluors (rated 116 by Timeform) and Call The Wind (122) in a remarkably classy Prix Darshaan at Chantilly on 05 March. Saint-Cloud on Sunday also staged a two-year-old race in which three of the runners were British-trained, suggesting there is an appetite for action from across the Channel/Manche.
There was another fibresand meeting at Chantilly on Tuesday, a mundane one on the whole but lit up by one sparkling performance, that of EPIC HERO in the Class 1 Prix du Belvedere, which he won by eight lengths.
As pointed out on the Sky Sports Racing coverage at the time, the Belvedere was one of six races at 1600 metres on the card, and Epic Hero’s winning time was easily the quickest, though that was in part an indictment of the mediocrity of the others. This is how those races stack up against each other on overall time.
Those finishing speed %s are “race” ones for the leader at the sectional and the leader at the line, which may not be the same horse. But on-screen sectionals allied to video analysis enable us to dig deeper and to engineer sectionals for individual horses.
That process speaks more highly still of Epic Hero, whose late sectionals were as good on the clock as on the optics.
The son of Siyouni put all of those eight lengths between himself and his rivals in the final 300 metres and covered the final 200m in an eye-watering 11.01s. He might not have been beating a whole lot in terms of rivals, but he was giving that clock a good bashing along the way.
I suspect we will be hearing a fair bit more of Epic Hero in the months ahead.
The TPD figures will continue to be showcased in the Results Section on this site, so that will be individual sectional times, contextualised for the courses and horses in question, and striding data also.
You do not get many good horses running at Brighton and Ffos Las, but you certainly do at Yarmouth. In 2018, that included the future Royal Ascot winners Without Parole and Ostilio, and the leading two-year-old filly Pretty Pollyanna. Going back further, the mighty Dubai Millennium debuted at the track in 1998, of course.
Getting late and accurate sectionals manually at Yarmouth has proved almost impossible over the years, while Brighton and Ffos Las have been a challenge at times also. Their inclusion in the TPD/ATR joint venture promises to open up a whole load of performances to much more detailed scrutiny.
Coming up with sectional pars – which I am about to head off to do, and which you may wish to do also – should not be too difficult at Yarmouth (one-mile straight and very, very flat) but Ffos Las (markedly downhill early in the straight chute) and especially Brighton (twisting, turning, and undulating) looks like being something else!
After the famine, the feast. There are three all-weather meetings to go at on Friday, including Lingfield and Newcastle in Britain.
The mile handicap which opens the former at 2:10 features AZETS, who could not have been much more eye-catching at Kempton last time when running on strongly into third.
Sectional analysis confirms it was a performance of merit, with the Amanda Perrett-trained gelding running about 34.6s for the last 3f in what had been a steadily-run race, getting a 28 lb upgrade to an admittedly modest base timefigure.
Azets will not have to be anything much out of the ordinary to get off the mark in this.
Not many go into the 7:00 at Newcastle in good current form, with Confrontational and CHOSEN WORLD exceptions. The latter ran sharp late sectionals when winning well at this course and distance in February, as the TPD figures on this site confirm, and is taken to follow up.