THE BHA HANDICAPPERS
Weblog: View from the team behind the official ratings
Sir Mark Prescott’s three-times listed winner Clinical undoubtedly improvedPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Horses for courses
It’s well documented that Epsom is a unique track and both Pattern races over the extended 1m on Friday’s card saw a horse with proven ability on those gradients run above what might have been expected, writes Graeme Smith.
The first of those two contests, the Group 3 Investec Princess Elizabeth Stakes, saw last year’s third Clinical surpass no fewer than four fillies with higher pre-race ratings as she gained her first pattern success. Sir Mark Prescott’s three-times listed winner is relatively lightly raced and undoubtedly improved to some extent on her 103-rating so I arrived at a new mark of 109 for her.
It is fair to say that the pre-race ratings of Joviality (109), Barefoot Lady (108), Navarra Queen (rated 106 in Germany) and Lay Time (109) indicated a higher level than I eventually went with – 109 on the winner has all four of them below their best – but I felt a degree of caution was prudent, particularly with the historical standards for the race suggesting a rating of 107.
On top of that, runner-up Joviality was far from at home on the camber for my money (she hung badly) and I couldn’t be sure the result wouldn’t have been different if she’d kept straight. Given current evidence, I’m happy to rate Clinical and Joviality as equals for now and see what plays out in the Windsor Forest.
The Group 3 Investec Diomed Stakes later on the card is another race I’d probably have rated slightly higher without the presence of a track specialist in the frame – in this case the eleven-year-old Mac Love.
Mac Love won the Diomed back in 2009 but his form in two subsequent campaigns had seen his mark slide back to 100, and away from this specialist track I wouldn’t be confident he’d continue his revival. Race standards suggested a figure around 111, and while that had the front two, Side Glance (113) and Dance And Dance (110), running below their marks I felt that was the easiest level to justify. It filters down to a figure of 108 for Mac Love - he finished a length and a half behind the winner – which also sits nicely with Dance And Dance’s rating, putting Mac Love 2lb behind that one for a beating of three-quarters of a length.
The highest rated horse in the Diomed remains Worthadd (down 2lb to 118) courtesy of his clear-cut Group 3 success under a penalty at Baden-Baden last month. He appeared to have every chance as Mirco Demuro kicked him into the lead 2f out but should have put up more of a fight from there and I’ve little doubt he’s better than this.
HENRY REVIVED AND A CONSISTENT OPINION
Last year’s renewal of the Henry II Stakes looked a pretty moderate one at the time and that has since been more than confirmed as the first five have run twenty six times between them without tasting success, writes Stephen Hindle.
The race has been downgraded from Group 2 to Group 3, yet ironically this year’s renewal looks much stronger as 2011 winner, Blue Bajan trailed home ninth of the ten runners behind Opinion Poll, who continued his remarkable run of consistency by making the frame for his twentieth consecutive start.
Truth be told, Opinion Poll was entitled to win on the figures and I have him running slightly below his 116 rating. As the third, Chiberta King is solid on 108, Ibicenco who finished second, ran better than at Newbury the time before, though still not to his best and I lowered him to 110 to line him up with the winner.
Time Up stayed on well in fourth and while I felt inclined to drop him from the 111 he was on going in, he beat Chiberta King when winning a Listed race at Newmarket last year so I felt I could still justify a higher rating than Chiberta King so I went with 109.
Ziuder Zee probably ran his best race to date in dead heating for fourth.
Only a nose behind Chiberta King he also goes to 108 from 105 going in. The first five finished clear in a renewal that looked to have a fair bit of depth so I expect the form to prove more solid than in 2011.
The blog appears courtesy of britishhorseracing.com