THE BHA HANDICAPPERS
Weblog: View from the team behind the official ratings
Nathaniel's sister Great Heavens is up to 116 after Lancashire Oaks routPICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
Heavens among those to shine on super Saturday
SO NEAR YET SO FARHH FOR GODOLPHIN
THE 2012 Coral-Eclipse was naturally weakened somewhat by the untimely late defection of So You Think, writes Greg Pearson.
We still had a field of nine go to post and with five individual Group 1 winners engaged, it promised to be an enthralling contest.
The race didn't disappoint with classy winner Nathaniel returning to action and bravely repelling strong challenges from Farhh, Cityscape and Crackerjack King in the straight to win officially by half a length.
In recording a performance figure of 124, he rates as the fourth best winner this century coming in behind Sea The Star (132, 2009), Giant's Causeway (127, 2000) and So You Think (126, 2011) but ahead of Notnowcato, Hawk Wing, David Junior, Oratorio, Refuse To Bend and Falbrav among others.
Nathaniel's official handicap mark of 126, derived from winning last year's Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, will remain unchanged.
Hugely progressive Godolphin colt Farhh has had his handicap mark increased from 118 to 122 (+4lb) after finishing second. I have called the margin between the pair 2lb as visually it looked to be bordering on three-quarters of a length in my opinion.
Third-placed Twice Over recorded a performance figure of 117, which was 2lb below the figure he posted when winning a weaker renewal of this race in 2010.
Unplaced runners Cityscape (failed to stay the trip), Crackerjack King (suited by quicker ground?) and Bonfire (needs to learn to settle in his races) all deserve to be given another chance to showcase their unquestioned ability at this elite level.
It hasn't yet been determined whether we will get to see Nathaniel and Farhh reoppose over 1m4f in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in two weeks' time, but with Dunaden, Masked Marvel, Sea Moon, St Nicholas Abbey, Reliable Man, Deep Brillante and Danedream all entered up, it promises to be a very competitive field nonetheless.
GREAT HEAVENS, SHE'S GOOD
Haydock's Lancashire Oaks looked competitive enough on paper, with seven of the nine runners rated above 100. To find the winner, however, you would have had to look beyond those seven as Great Heavens went in rated 98, only to come out on a mark of 116!
In all honesty, the result wasn't that much of a surprise. Great Heavens was much the least exposed in the field, having had just three previous racecourse outings, winning two of them, and she was sent off favourite.
After setting a good pace, her backers must have enjoyed the final three furlongs as she pulled further and further clear until being eased in the final 50 yards, her winning margin officially five lengths over Shimmering Surf.
The race virtually assessed itself, as the 107-rated Shimmering Surf and 105-rated third-placed Set To Music finished a similar distance apart to when first and second at the track a month earlier.
In behind, nothing except the 88-rated Good Morning Star holds down the form. The time is impressive too, comfortably the quickest of the three mile and a half races on the card, which included the Old Newton Cup.
Few fillies and mares record such a high figure as this and Great Heavens will surely be seen in Group 1 company next time out. The Yorkshire Oaks would seem an obvious target.
Having already mentioned the Old Newton Cup, it would be remiss not to mention the winner, Number Theory, whose four career wins have all been at Haydock.
The first was in 2011 but his last three have come on his last three starts, the first one this season off a mark of 76. He was up to 92 on Saturday, including a pound overweight, but travelled with his customary enthusiasm and held off the late surge of Quiz Mistress by a neck. His new mark is 97.
At Sandown, Chiberta King was attempting a repeat success in the Esher Stakes. In fact, the first three from 2011 were all having another go, with Aaim To Prosper, beaten a nose by Chiberta King last year, and Electrolyser, who was third in that contest, again in opposition.
Aaim To Prosper and Chiberta King ran virtually to the pound as there was only a short head between them this time, though the order was the other way around.
Unfortunately for connections of those two, there was a high-class individual in the line-up on this occasion in the shape of Cavalryman, once rated in the 120s having finished third in the 2009 Arc behind Sea The Stars, and they filled the placings rather than fought out victory.
Cavalryman came here on the back of a win at York in another Listed contest and he really showed his class with an authoritative four-and-a-half length success, despite conceding three pounds to all except Electrolyser, who finished last.
The form looks pretty solid given the second and third were first and second last year and Cavalryman is now on a mark of 115.
He could make his mark a fair bit further up in the staying division as that rating suggests he wouldn't have much to find with his stable companion Colour Vision, who won the Gold Cup but is rated only 2lb higher.
NO WAY TO GUARD AGAINST RESULTS LIKE THIS ONE
It is the unsatisfactory races in terms of pace that mark out the difference between being a private and official handicapper, writes David Dickinson.
One such race happened on the first of the month at Uttoxeter. A competitive enough looking handicap hurdle was won by Changing The Guard by 26 lengths. It was, however, a race that a private handicapper would have said something along the lines of 'this isn't worth the paper it's written on'.
The reason for this is simple, the pace of the race. Passing the stands with a circuit to run they all appeared to be pretty much flat out and soon after the home turn there was only one horse keeping up the gallop, the winner.
Changing The Guard was dropping down in trip so kept up the gallop to the line and a six-length advantage late in the day quickly became 26 at the line.
As a private handicapper paid to predict future winners, you may put a line through this race as meaningless.
As an official handicapper, if you left the mark of a 26 length handicap winner unchanged and left him no worse in with the rivals he had just thrashed, I think the men in white coats would (rightly) be summoned.
I have not called the 26 lengths 26lb (I usually use a pound a length at two miles) but have returned Changing The Guard to his highest ever mark of 112, a rise of 15lb.
Is that too much? Well the horse ran again last Sunday and was beaten off his old mark and a 7lb penalty. So this coming week I am sure I will be taking another look.
The blog appears courtesy of britishhorseracing.com