Sectional Spotlight

Sectional timing expert Simon Rowlands reviews some the key action from the start of the flat season where TPD sectionals are available - he also has a fancy online for Friday's bet365 Esher Cup at Sandown.

  • Wednesday 26 April
  • Blog
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If any of you are suffering from All-Weather Championships withdrawal symptoms – I’ve heard it’s a thing, and not just for me – then you can rest assured that it is only about another 190 sleeps until the next one.

You can also rest assured that one crucial feature of the latest AW Championships – the sectional timing provided by Total Performance Data and showcased on At The Races – remains with us and is in fact being rolled out more widely to cover some turf meetings also.

The Lincoln fixture at Doncaster got the full treatment, as have recent Windsor meetings. Keep an eye open for other tracks joining the party in coming months.

Those Windsor figures are particularly interesting as only the most rudimentary of sectionals have existed at the track previously. The meetings on 10 April and 24 April shed a light on how races on this rather idiosyncratic figure-of-eight tend to unfold.

Race finishing speeds – the average speed for the leaders in the final 2f as a % of the average speed for the race overall – on the first occasion ranged from 102.1% (race won by Sir Plato) to 109.5% (Comrade Conrad), the latter a particularly tactical race resulting in a fast finish. On the 24th they ranged from 97.3% (Go Amber Go) to 108.9% (Desert Cross).

In general, races of a mile or more at Windsor – in which runners take a notably sharp bend mid-race – tend to be much more tactical than those at 5f and 6f. The 5f contest won by Stepper Point recently came in a time only 0.33s outside the course record and illustrates how to run the course and distance very close to peak efficiency.

In that context, the effort later on the card of GO AMBER GO ATR Tracker in winning with a finishing speed of just 97.3% – having gone quickly up front – can be seen to be even more meritorious, while that of Little Palaver (99.7%) was another close to peak efficiency.

LITTLE PALAVER ATR Tracker ran his last 3f (from beginning to end) in 11.2s, 11.3s and 12.5s and those are precisely the same closing sectionals recorded by Desert Cross on the same card, but with the latter at nearly twice the overall distance of the former. It follows that Desert Cross had conserved more energy earlier, as his 108.9% finishing speed underlines.

“Good” sectionals are about a lot more than just running fast at the business end of a race, of course, but it is fair to say that the two fastest finishers on that 24 April Windsor card are probably the two above all others to take from the occasion.

The fact that AQUADABRA ATR Tracker and WASATCH ATR Tracker Range both ran 22.7s for the last 2f (39.6 mph) when a useful 5f winner in Stepper Point ran 23.0s in nearly breaking the track record shows how fast the first-two-named finished off their races.

When you consider that the former is a May foal, not even two years old yet, and that the latter was racing at 10f and had to pass the majority of his rivals from straightening up, their efforts look even better.

As mentioned, all-weather action continues to be covered, and the following races and individual efforts can be flagged up from that sphere in the last fortnight.

Race 4 at Newcastle on 14 April was a particularly uneven contest in terms of pace, with an even-to-fast/slow/fast profile, and third-placed LORD GEORGE ATR Tracker looks best in it.

The valuable race 5 on the same card, won by Forest Ranger, featured some particularly inefficient performances from those behind the first three, who benefited from being towards the rear approaching the closing stages.   

The opener at Southwell on 18 April saw second and third do too much too soon. Even the winner, BUSHEL ATR Tracker, came home in a 96.4% finishing speed.

And FAVOURITE ROYAL ATR Tracker did very well against a pace bias in race 2 at Wolverhampton on 19 April, with her 110.4% finishing speed earning her a “flame” icon on the sectional tools tab.

These ATR Sectional Spotlights will look backwards more than forwards, on the whole, but there is a hot sectional horse declared to run on Friday that needs flagging up.

MEDAHIM ATR Tracker did something pretty remarkable when winning a maiden at Kempton on his only start at two years, running faster for the last 3f (33.55s, 40.2 mph) according to Timeform than any juvenile had at the track since that company started taking manual sectionals there.

With that in mind, Medahim’s defeat at a short price in a handicap at Wolverhampton on 17 April seems disappointing. But look at the TPD sectionals for that race and you will see just how much the winner Original Choice got the run of things.

Medahim gained from the home turn, but it was just too little, too late. Nonetheless, he pulled comfortably clear of the rest and found only a promising type from a top stable too good for him on the day.

Medahim goes in the bet365 Esher Cup at Sandown on Friday off the same attractive BHA mark of 87. It is a little surprising to see such a speedily-bred individual, who has shown plenty of pace so far, trying a mile already, but it can be best to defer (within reason) to connections on such matters when dealing with lightly-raced youngsters.

This can be one of the strongest handicaps of the year, and there are plenty of promising types among the baker’s dozen up against Medahim. But you get decent odds as a result, and the Richard Hannon-trained colt looks a bet to me.

Sectional Spotlight
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