The two most recent Sectional Spotlights dealt with the idiosyncrasies of racing at Southwell and Newcastle, and in particular looked at the closing sectionals that tend to be recorded there.
This week, the focus is on Lingfield Park, the venue for much of the best racing of the All-Weather Championships and where Finals Day will be held on 30 March this year.
Unlike Southwell (Fibresand) and Newcastle (Tapeta), racing at Lingfield takes place on Polytrack. That, along with the track layout, makes for the quickest finishes of the four AW tracks covered by Total Performance Data.
Lingfield drops about 15 feet from 3f out to 1f out, and its straight is much shorter – at just under 2f – than both Southwell and Newcastle. Staying types are likely to need to make their move some way from home.
These are the average closing sectionals for the winners of well-run races at the track in 2017.
Lingfield finishing speed pars, 2017
|Distance||Last 3f||Last 2f||Last 1f|
|5.03f||33.23s (105.1%)||22.57s (103.2%)||11.65s (100.0%)|
|6.00f||34.11s (104.6%)||22.99s (103.5%)||11.80s (100.8%)|
|7.00f||34.62s (104.1%)||23.23s (103.5%)||11.85s (101.4%)|
|8.00f||35.02s (103.3%)||23.52s (102.6%)||12.05s (100.2%)|
|12.00f||35.58s (105.6%)||23.63s (106.0%)||11.98s (104.6%)|
By way of simple comparison, average final furlongs for 6f races at Southwell and Newcastle were slightly over and slightly under 13.0s, but that figure is 11.80s at Lingfield. That difference is equivalent to around seven lengths, over only a furlong.
The differences in finishing speed %s (speed at finish as a % of average race speed overall) are less pronounced, but nonetheless apparent. They might be approximated as 105% for last 3f, 103% for last 2f and 101% for last 1f, a good few % points higher than at those other two tracks.
In other words, Lingfield is not only a fast track compared to Southwell and Newcastle, it tends to feature fast finishes even after that overarching consideration has been allowed for.
The fastest last 2f at the course in the modern era, according to Timeform, was Tryster’s blisteringly quick 20.97s in the Easter Classic at 10f in 2015. Let’s just hope we see something that fast there again on AW Finals Day, if not sooner!
Even a horse as fast as KACHY – second in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot in 2016 – was unable to match those Tryster sectionals when winning at 6f at the course last Friday. But that was due, at least in part, to the fact that he went much faster earlier.
In fact, he went fast enough that he endangered the course record despite the surface being not especially quick. In the end, he missed it by 0.44s but ran two consecutive sub-11.0s furlongs and recorded an eye-watering 123 timefigure with Timeform.
To put that into context, only seven horses returned higher timefigures in Britain and Ireland in the whole of 2017, and not one of them did that on AW!
The Kachy that we saw here would take the world of beating in the Sprint on Finals Day if he can first gain qualification for that event.
There is, however, a possibility that even an in-form Kachy would not be the best horse on show on Finals Day. In an exciting development, Aidan O’Brien has entered half a dozen horses for the Betway Winter Derby at Lingfield on 24 February.
They include IDAHO, the Hardwicke Stakes winner who was previously placed in The Derby and Irish Derby, and who is rated 126 by Timeform. Now, that would be something to see!
At an altogether lower level, there was a promising sectional performance elsewhere on that Friday Lingfield card from AVON GREEN.
TPD sectionals confirm a slow early pace and fast finish, and in that context the Joseph Tuite-trained filly did well to finish second to Sir Hector, running 10.9s then 10.8s for the last two furlongs. With more luck, she can go one better before long...
It is mostly bargain basement stuff at Lingfield on Friday, but the 6f Betway Handicap at 3.30 promises to be a cut-throat race, with several pace-forcers in attendance.
BURAUQ tends to race a bit further back than some, and places on his last two starts confirm he is in solid form. This looks to be a good opportunity for him of picking up the pieces late on.
A far different pace scenario promises to unfold on the course on Saturday in the Betway Handicap at 3.10. There are no definite front-runners in this 12f event, but SAM MISSILE filled that role at Wolverhampton last time and ran well in the process.
A quirky sort previously who could have turned over a new leaf for Jamie Osborne, he looks like getting things his way and is taken to reward each-way support providing all eight declared runners take part.