THE BHA HANDICAPPERS
Weblog: View from the team behind the official ratings
Ile De Re: Northumberland Plate winner new rating of 106 for latest winPICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
Chips are down for Plate winner McCain
PUT your sunglasses on as I'm about to blind you with statistics, writes Stephen Hindle.
Ile de Re has just landed the Northumberland Plate carrying 9st 3lb, which is the most weight carried to victory in the race since Bangalore in 2002.
If that doesn't impress you, it is the highest official winning mark in the race since Windsor Castle in 1997.
Still not convinced? Well, Ile de Re landed a major gamble (it seems I'm about the only person who considered the possibility he could get beat), becoming the shortest-priced winner since Celeric in 1996.
Okay, perhaps I should have just skipped to the most impressive stat of them all, which is that Ile de Re just became the first horse to win the Northumberland Plate and the Chester Cup in the same season since 1974. That was several years before I was born!
Connections' biggest concern beforehand seemed not to be whether Ile de Re would beat his opponents but whether the meeting would survive at all. Thursday's card was wiped out halfway through after a horrendous thunderstorm, which quickly saw the abandonment of Friday's card and at that point it looked odds against racing going ahead on Saturday.
However, the weather relented somewhat, the ground staff did an excellent job, racing went ahead and conditions turned out to be ideal for Ile de Re, who had already shown himself to be fully effective in such treacherous ground at Chester. Ridden positively, he had to work in the end but was always fighting off the challenges of Crackentorp and Icon Dream, with French Hollow finishing best from off the pace in fourth.
Normally, I like to take a positive view of valuable handicaps such as this, but I think in such testing ground a degree of caution needs to be used.
That said, I felt French Hollow ran really well from 2lb out of the handicap and wouldn't want to see him competing off a lower mark next time out, so I raised him to the mark he competed off, which was 82. With Icon Dream two lengths in front of him, his mark increased by 2lb to 100.
Crackentorp ran a cracking race in second having won the Queen Mother's Cup last time out, proving himself fully effective both at a long distance and away from York, the scene of his last three wins. He goes up to a new career high of 101, a rise of 3lb having finished half a length in front of Icon Dream.
All that boils down to a new rating of 106 for Ile de Re, a rise of 5lb. I called the half-length 2lb because, as stated earlier, he was always holding on.
I'd like to say the real winners were the Newcastle ground staff, but with Ile de Re's connections pocketing the best part of 90 grand that may be stretching it a bit!
LIBRANNO RETURNS FOR ENCORE
The 7f Group 3 John Sunley Memorial Criterion Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday was won for the second successive year by Richard Hannon's colt Libranno, Richard Hughes dictating a steady pace before quickening and holding on gamely in a bunched finish, writes Mark Olley.
Libranno achieved a figure of 112 when winning last year (the average rating for the winner of this race over the last ten years), but having based the race around the third, Majestic Myles (108), and fourth, Bannock (107), I have him running to 110 this time round.
Last season Libranno's next race was the 6f July Cup at Newmarket, in which he finished an excellent fourth despite meeting trouble in running. Plans indicate a similar path this year and, as a more experienced horse, he should again run very well.
Paul d'Arcy's Edinburgh Knight put up a career best rating of 109 in finishing second, but if you look back at his fourth place in the Lincoln back in March you will see that the horses either side of him that day were Fury (now rated 107) and Eton Forever (now 109) - so maybe not such an ‘improved' run.
Earlier in the week Warwick hosted the 7f Listed Eternal Stakes for fillies. This turned into a messy affair with the favourite Diala getting badly hampered around a furlong out. Ed McMahon's filly Radio Gaga (98) held on gamely to win and confirm the promise she showed when second in the Group 3 Fred Darling at Newbury back in April.
The first five fillies ran almost to the pound to their pre-race ratings and these tie in well with the race standards.
JUST CLAIMS THIS IS NO OVER ASSESSMENT
When I woke up on Sunday morning and sat down to handicap the previous days racing - the first race I'd printed out was a claimer from Chester on Saturday (next week it will be the Group 1 Coral Eclipse Stakes!), writes Greg Pearson.
Just Lille recorded her 15th win and what a wonderful stalwart she has been to the Ann Duffield yard, with a victory earlier in the week at Beverley (also in claiming company).
She has now successfully managed to win a minimum of one race every year (often several) since she commenced racing in 2006. I know not many mares are still racing at the age of nine but rest assured of those that are, there would be few who could lay claim to the fact they had won a race every season (for seven seasons straight). It's a remarkable testament to the horse's durability and astute placement on the part of her trainer.
I had never handicapped the mare in my four years on the panel, so I trawled back through her form profile and identified that she hadn't won a handicap for over two years (granted she'd only had four handicap starts since the Hamilton win, all defeats off marks ranging from 89 to 95).
She has won four of her last six starts and is unbeaten in claimers (four from four), but the question I had to ask myself was is she still worth a handicap mark of 88? and the answer in my opinion was no.
She had won two races in the last five days but in recording performance figures of 84+ & 79+ in doing so, this strongly indicated to me her current rating might be out of date (add to that her only recent handicap start, where she was beaten 15 lengths off a mark of 89) and I was sold on the idea that her rating could be dropped 3lb from 88 to 85 which gives a more accurate representation of what she is currently achieving on the track.
Next time a trainer says to me "you never drop the winner of a claimer or seller", I will be able to use Just Lille as proof that just because you're winning in non-handicap company it doesn't necessarily mean your handicap mark shall remain dormant. She isn't the first I've dropped for winning and I certainly don't intend for her to be the last.
The blog appears courtesy of britishhorseracing.com