THE BHA HANDICAPPERS
Weblog: View from the team behind the official ratings
Bronze Angel (nearside) winning the Cambridgeshire at NewmarketPICTURE: Edward Whitaker/(racingpost.com/photos)
Angel comes out on top for Tregoning
On Saturday at Newmarket we saw the running of the time-honoured Cambridgeshire handicap (first run in 1839), writes Greg Pearson.
As always, this was a hotly contested handicap with a strong case able to be made as to why the majority of the field held a realistic winning chance. Despite the Classic generation having endured a barren spell in recent years (33 unplaced three-year- old runners since Pipedreamer won in 2007), they held the first three positions in the betting market.
Bronze Angel scraped into the field by the skin of his teeth, claiming one of the final two positions on offer (with three horses equal on ballot). The Marcus Tregoning-trained three-year-old entered the handicap system off a rating of 81 back in July 2011 after his three qualifying runs. From that day onwards he has never stopped improving, albeit somewhat steadily rather than rapidly. He has now won four of his last six race starts and on three of his last five starts in handicap company. Cheekpieces were added three runs back so he is two wins from three starts since that gear change was applied.
Despite only winning by three-quarters of a length officially, I have called the margin 3lb to Mull Of Killough in second as I feel this would have been greater had he charted a straighter course. It was clearly apparent that when William Buick asked the colt to lengthen stride in the dip he proceeded to veer sharply right and wander across the track causing interference to Moran Gra, undoubtedly costing himself ground and momentum in the process. His pre-race rating of 95 will be increased by 6lbs to a new rating of 101 - Tregoning can take heart from the fact that the last three three-year-old's to win the Cambridgeshire have all gone on to win Group races next season.
Lear Spear (1998 winner) won two Group 3s and a Group 2 in 1999, Formal Decree (2006 winner) won a Group 3 and finished second in a Group 1,2 and 3 in 2007, whilst Pipedreamer (2007 winner) won a Group 2 in 2008. There are no guarantees in horseracing but I would be surprised if Bronze Angel doesn't follow suit and progress further up the ranks as he continues to develop and mature.
Mull Of Killough finished second having run off a rating of 100 and his revised handicap mark will be 103 (+3lb). Assigned to meet the winner Bronze Angel on 3lb better terms for a three-quarter length defeat - he has now placed in three feature British handicaps, already having been third off 96 in the 2010 Lincoln Handicap and second off 96 in the 2012 Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster.
In third place was Boom And Bust and his rating has been increased from 104 to 106 (+2lb) and would meet Bronze Angel on 4lb better terms, for this one-and-a-half length defeat. Fifth placed Mukhadram who had run to his pre-race rating of 101 on his previous two starts helps to provide a level through which to assess the form. Beaten two-and-three-quarter lengths here I have him reproducing that figure on his handicap debut.
Nothing jumped off the screen as being desperately unlucky to me, although those drawn really high that raced in the group against the stands rail were probably not seen to best effect.
CHARIOT PROVES MOSSE FASTEST, NOT BUICK OR HARLEY!
Some good quality action over a mile at Newmarket last week was headed up by French filly Siyouma's success in the Group 1 Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes on Saturday, writes Dominic Gardiner-Hill.
Paying her second visit to these shores this season, she stepped up on her third place (running to 113) in the Falmouth Stakes in July by posting a career best figure of 116 in beating Elusive Kate (114+) and the pacemaking Laugh Out Loud (110) by three-quarters of a length and a length-and-three-quarters.
Indeed, it would be entirely possible to have the race a tad higher using either of those two as a guide, but the presence of the 109 rated La Collina in fourth, plus the winner's previous achievements, lead me to err on the lower side for the time being.
I understand that Francois Doumen's filly is now likely to head off around the world and it will be interesting to see if she can shore up the level of this race on the global stage.
Just 24 hours earlier David O'Meara's Penitent had returned to the level of his Bet365 Mile success at Sandown in April when taking the Group 2 Nayef Joel Stakes. I have taken the view that third placed Premio Loco has run to his current mark of 111 for the fourth time this season, suggesting that runner-up Side Glance has returned a performance of 114, a pound below his current mark but the same as I have him running to when third in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot behind Frankel, and that Penitent has run to 115.
There was some suggestion that he and Premio Loco may have gained some advantage by being two of only three who raced on the far rail whilst the rest came down the centre of the track, but only time will tell us whether or not that was the case - and the figures of the first three do fit pretty neatly!
The upshot of the Sun Chariot and the Joel is that the older milers still hold sway over a relatively moderate group of three-year olds - the colts (Most Improved and Trumpet Major in particular) proving especially disappointing in the Joel.
The Classic generation did hit back however in the Listed Mawatheeq Rosemary Stakes for fillies and mares on Friday when the progressive Chigun struck for Sir Henry Cecil. It's not the easiest contest in the world to get a handle on the level of but I have raised Chigun to 107 for her success, the same as runner-up Thistle Bird (who got going too late), whilst third placed Moone's My Name is raised to a career high 105. Again, as with so many things in handicapping, only time will tell if that is the correct call!
FILLIES TAKING SHAPE
There are five Group 1 races for two-year olds in Great Britain and the first two happened last weekend at Newmarket, writes Matthew Tester.
The course staged the Shadwell Fillies' Mile and the Jaguar Cars Cheveley Park, the good news being that the top-rated filly won both races and ran pretty much as expected.
Certify, who has looked top class from the start, won the Fillies' Mile by four-and-a-half lengths and goes up a pound to 112 for her effort. This rating is typical of recent winners of this race so is well up to standard. It bodes well for Purr Along who ran her close last time at Doncaster and who runs in the Prix Marcel Boussac this weekend on the Arc card.
The ratings for the Cheveley Park had Rosdhu Queen narrowly top-rated before the race with many others close up on the figures. And so it proved. She won by one length but only 0.7 seconds covered the entire field of eleven horses. Although Rosdhu Queen has many admirable qualities, my figure for her now is only 109. This is the lowest winning rating for any of the last 22 runnings of this race. When they all finish so close together you have to say that none of them can be outstanding at this stage.
The eye-catching performance of the week was probably Steeler winning the Group 2 Juddmonte Royal Lodge earlier that day. He had looked to be crying out for a trip and, stepped up to a mile for the first time, he flew up the hill. His rating of 112 puts him in with a chance in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy where he is expected to take on the unbeaten Toronado who at 114 is going to be tested.
At the time of writing, Dawn Approach at 121 remains the highest-rated two-year old on my figures.
This blog appears courtesy of the BHA