Most of you good people will have been watching the racing on ATR on Saturday night, I know, but those of you who were not – apparently a thing called “Strictly” is popular with some – will have missed a little bit of sectional-timing history at Wolverhampton. Shame on you.
A few of the races at floodlit Dunstall Park were accompanied by live Total Performance Data by-furlong sectional times, unobtrusively but informatively displayed in the bottom-left of the ATR screen.
In addition to the approximate speed, the caption gave the distance completed, the cumulative time to that point and the time for the preceding furlong, all for the race leader.
Putting this into its proper context is the difficult bit, but we could expect a well-run race at this 14f distance, involving horses of this general quality and on this speed of surface, to go by in roughly 13.0s furlongs on average.
However, the section highlighted was the first in over a mile in which the field had broken 13.0s, and even then only just. The mid-race pace, in which furlongs went by in around 13.5s, was steady and those at the front were accumulating a tactical advantage.
The pace picked up – and some – shortly after the snapshot was taken on the home turn, with the last three sections going by in 12.39s, 11.87s and 12.27s. The two horses in the lead in the picture finished first and second, with the winner Captain Swift (cheekpieces) touching 75 in play along the way.
Nondescript and eminently forgettable Class 6 Handicap, or a Vision of The Future: I will leave it to the reader to decide. But it’s got to be more exciting than “Strictly”.
In order to gain visions of the future we often need to have a proper understanding of the past. That can include sifting through the TPD sectionals to identify the performances that were promising from those that were mundane.
If you are looking back over the last fortnight you could do a lot worse than start with a couple of performances by horses owned by Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum (yellow, with black epaulettes).
MASAARR on 18 November at Lingfield ran a blisteringly fast last quarter to win a minor event in the style of a potential Group horse. I cannot find a faster time by a two-year-old this year than his 21.8s, which included a 10.8s penultimate furlong. It is worth accessing the race replay on the ATR site for this one.
It is also worth having a look at the debut of MOSSEYB at the track the previous day. He pretty much lost the race at the start (15.9s opening section) but ran back-to-back 10.6s furlongs mid-race and was going on well at the death in third having looked very green for most of the way. A lot better can be anticipated from him next time.
Another one to look out for, but in different colours, isGORGEOUS, who was friendless in the betting for her first start in nearly a year at Wolverhampton on 20 November but who shaped with a good deal of promise to finish second in what was admittedly just a run-of-the-mill handicap. Her concluding sectionals of 11.5s then 11.7s were much the fastest in the field and suggests she should have won this.
There have been some excellent Fast-Track Qualifiers of late, not least the Listed race at Kempton on 22 November won by Second Thought, a horse who found only the mighty Harry Angel too good for him in the Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock in May.
Another recent FTQ winner, Master The World, goes in the Listed race at Kempton on Wednesday, but looks to have a little to find with Red Verdon and Mountain Bell. It should be worth catching the opening race on the card (4.10), by the way, as Godolphin’s ISPOLINI goes and could hardly have shaped much better, visually or on sectionals, on his only previous start.
Earlier on Wednesday, and on ATR, the £25,000-added Betway Handicap at Wolverhampton at 2.20 looks to provide THIRD TIME LUCKY with a chance of at least placing at a decent price. He shaped reasonably after a break at Lingfield Park last time and has the figures from a bit further back to reward each-way support in this company.
Breathoffreshair is likely to be all the rage to complete his hat-trick in the 9.15 at Newcastle on Thursday night, and with some justification. But it should be noted that the race he won here last time fell apart somewhat on account of an overly-strong pace (as the TPD sectionals show). KROY got no sort of a run last time and looks a feasible alternative, again at each way.