This week’s other ATR Sectional Spotlight looked back at a few of the older-horse contests from Royal Ascot 2019 and might have given the impression that races generally involved false paces and late speed.
That was certainly not the case with the two-year-old events, all of which took place on the straight course and the majority of which resulted in finishes that were slower than par. Such things are all-important where assessments of stamina, speed, ability and potential are concerned.
How things panned out for the juveniles – by-race and individually for the principals – can be seen in the following extracts using Ascot’s sectional times (which may be downloaded in PDF form from the bottom right of the Results Section on this site). Let’s work through them one at a time.
The surface at Royal Ascot 2019 varied considerably in speed through the week, as the rains came and went, but started on “Good to Firm” judged by sectionals and overall times early on the Tuesday.
The Coventry was a strongly-run affair, with Makyon (not shown) blasting through the first 2f in a time 0.64s (about four lengths) quicker than par before weakening into eleventh.
Arizona eventually wore down his rivals to win, running closest of all to par finishing speed %, but the overall time was good and it is form to view positively. Golden Horde and the aforementioned Makyon (106 sectional rating) are two unplaced horses who could make their marks in slightly lesser grade.
The runners were the best part of 1.0s slower again in the closing stages of the following day’s Queen Mary, and that was only in part down to much softer ground.
Kimari (13.97s) was one of only four horses to break 14.0s for the opening furlong on the straight course in the whole week (Kachy in the Diamond Jubilee on Saturday was fastest of all at 13.75s), and she continued to pile it on with splits of 11.08s then 11.07s.
It nearly got her home in front, but not quite, as Raffle Prize, herself finishing slowly, toughed it out. The sectionals say that Kimari should have won narrowly rather than lost narrowly, and that the form of the first three is pretty good for the race once those splits are factored in.
It was softer still by the end of Wednesday, and Southern Hills posted a time 1.47s slower than Raffle Prize had done earlier. Those closing sectionals are remarkably slow and included a 92.2% finishing speed for the final 1f by the winner.
This was an attritional test, as far as a 5f race can be, and Glasvegas was helped slightly in third. The probability is that this is not especially strong or reliable form as well.
Back to good to soft going, and another strongly-run race, but one in which A’Ali was a deserving winner. Partnered by Dettori, he was just 0.11s (less than a length) ahead of par after 2f, then ran a fast mid-race split, before holding on well.
Strive For Glory gets marked up most among the principals in a race which looks to represent solid rather than spectacular form at this stage.
Friday’s racing started on ground that was good, if not a bit firmer, with the Albany another strongly-run affair (there is an offset between Ascot’s sectional times and overall times which mean the precise figures could be somewhat different).
The first four home were not too far from par finishing speed %, however, but that overall time compares poorly (after weight carried and age has been allowed for) with Advertise’s 71.88s in winning the Commonwealth Cup later on the card.
Long-priced maidens finished second, third and fourth, and this looks form to treat with some caution.
The two-year-old track record fell to Pinatubo, who has legitimate claims to be considered the best youngster on show all week. He showed a proper turn of foot to win, in contrast to most of those earlier winners, and gets a 4 lb boost to his bare form based on the difference between his finishing speed % and the course-and-distance par.
A champion two-year-old is very likely to be rated into the 120s, but a 116-rated one by Royal Ascot is fairly rare, and the future looks rosy for Pinatubo, as it does to a degree for Lope Y Fernandez and Highland Chief given their lack of experience to this stage.
One interesting thing to note about Pinatubo is that he strides quickly – between 2.37 strides/second and 2.50 strides/second here by my reckoning – and most like a 7f/8f performer. Other events at Royal Ascot 2019 showed that you ignore such evidence at your peril.