Even by its own high standards, that was quite an Ebor Festival at York, featuring outstanding wins from the likes of Battaash, Stradivarius, Enable and Logician, and run on ground so fast that it produced a clutch of course records.
Perhaps the most remarkable effort of all was that of the two-year-old MUMS TIPPLE, who won the 6f Goffs UK Premier Yearling Stakes on Thursday by an astonishing 11 lengths. How was that possible, and what sort of a figure can be put on such a performance?
I will run through a few of the steps that time analysts should be taking to come up with answers.
Firstly, it is necessary to come up with an allowance for the speed of the conditions, derived from comparisons between the times that the winners should have been capable of achieving and those that they actually achieved. Rail movements and the effect of the wind need to be allowed for, as far as that is possible.
There are a variety of ways in which this allowance can be expressed. I favour a figure which reflects the rating a horse would have to run to in order to equal my standard time carrying 10-00 or its weight-for-age equivalent in a well-run race. The lower the figure, the easier that standard was to achieve, and the faster were the implied conditions.
My going allowance for the straight course at York on Thursday was 55 – a modest horse could have equalled standard time – indicative of firm going. It was the same on the Friday and only slightly slower (64) for the meeting’s opening day on Wednesday.
It is interesting at this point to consider in isolation the quartet of 6f two-year-old races run across those three consecutive days and the overall times they gave rise to.
Anyone wishing to belittle Mums Tipple’s achievement must explain how the colt managed not only to beat his 20 rivals pointless but to run significantly faster than a useful nursery winner who carried 11 lb less and a Lowther winner (on the same day) and Gimcrack winner who both carried 5 lb less.
Those overall time differences of 1.63s, 1.42s and 0.30s equate to nearly 10 lengths, eight and a half lengths, and nearly two lengths using conventional conversions.
Those finishing speed %s (speed at finish as % of speed for race overall) are from my own sectionals, are for the individual winners themselves, and are close to par for 6f at York with the exception of Owney Madden’s which reflect an overly-strong early pace for him (but even more so for many of his rivals).
The most impressive comparison is between the time of Mums Tipple and that of Living In The Past, who won a Group 2, no less, just half an hour earlier. The headline figures suggest both performances were achieved in similarly efficient style, but Mums Tipple was four to five lengths faster in both the first and second halves of the race.
We can look at the principals in both those races in a bit more detail.
The individual overall times have been taken from the BHA Fixtures Update site and come directly from the Racecourse Judge. Results in Britain have been strictly time-based since 1997, but prompt and public display is a recent development and gets rid of the need to estimate individual times from other information.
We know, for instance, that not only did Mums Tipple run 1.42s faster than Living In The Past, but the runner-up to the former, Rayong, ran slower than the fifth filly and faster than the sixth filly in the Lowther. Given that Rayong carried the same weight as those two fillies, time-based assessment should have him somewhere between them if the same going allowance has been used.
The fact is that assessments for beaten horses should be derived from the actual times they recorded and not from notional pounds per length working back from the winner: that has been the case for a long time now.
The above figures reflect the calculation displayed in The Timeform Knowledge of: 1500*(actual time minus standard time)/(actual time), though individual readers may have their own variations on this.
It has Mums Tipple fully 36 lb faster than Living In The Past (31 lb plus the 5 lb weight differential) and 46 lb faster than Rayong (41 lb plus 5 lb).
Wherever you pitch the level, you have Mums Tipple running fast on the clock and Living In The Past (who could be expected to run to a figure well into the 100s) running much slower. Those headline sectionals show that this was not down to the pace of the races, or not to a major degree.
My assessment of Mums Tipple at 123 has the majority of those behind him running below their previous bests to some degree, if not necessarily by much. That compares with a 128 sectionally adjusted figure for Pinatubo and 124 for Earthlight elsewhere this campaign.
It will be particularly interesting to see what third-placed Klopp of The Kop (just one run previously) and fifth-placed National League (one ordinary win from three previous starts, and paid slightly for earlier exertions here) do subsequently.
In addition to the questions posed earlier, one other query can be made. How come the fillies in the Lowther Stakes ran so slowly? If you have them running as fast as might be expected then Mums Tipple goes off the scale!
Incidentally, for those interested in striding measures, Mums Tipple strode at between 2.37 and 2.50 strides/second until near the end, according to my video analysis. That is a cadence most often associated with a 6f/7f performer, and not with one likely to be quite as good at the mile of a Guineas.