THE BHA HANDICAPPERS
Weblog: View from the team behind the official ratings
Mayson: highest-rated British sprint performance of the year in July CupPICTURE: Martin Lynch (racingpost.com/photos)
Mighty Mayson triumphs in July Cup mudbath
This year's build up to the Group 1 Darley July Cup at Newmarket, like so many races this summer, was dominated by the weather, with daily bulletins on potential runners, writes Stewart Copeland.
Already riding soft on the Friday, a further deluge that evening put paid to the participation of ante-post favourite Bated Breath.
Indeed by the time I'd arrived at the course on Saturday, the going had officially changed to heavy and it was obvious to all that conditions were going to be testing.
Not only on the track either, as most of the lawns resembled muddy fields, and keeping your feet was a challenge in itself!
The race was a notable landmark for Richard Fahey and Paul Hanagan, landing their first domestic Group 1 victory with the four-year old colt Mayson, who grabbed the initiative early on and dominated throughout for a runaway success.
After a tremendous start to his campaign, winning the Abernant and Palace House Stakes on the nearby Rowley Mile, Mayson had genuine excuses for his next two unplaced starts, and as a result went off a generous-looking 20-1.
I say generous, because when looking at the race beforehand with colleague Mark Olley, we thought it was guaranteed that Mayson would act on the going, and be up with the pace – both vital factors on the day. His chances looked stronger by the minute with every drop of rain. The earlier handicaps suggested it was difficult coming from off the pace, and those held up in the July Cup were probably going to be at a significant disadvantage. So it proved.
None of that should detract, though, from the admirable trailblazing Mayson's moment of triumph, but in assessing the race I've factored those details into my calculations.
Normally you'd expect a five-length winner of the July Cup to be rated in the 120+ category at least, but given conditions rendered the race less competitive than usual, I eventually settled on a figure of 119.
That still means his rating is on a par with the average we'd expect for a July Cup winner. It's also the highest rated performance by a British sprinter this year, marginally ahead of Bated Breath at 118.
Away from Newmarket, it's also briefly worth highlighting the excellent performance of the Goldophin-trained five-year-old gelding Soul, who won the six-furlong Group 3 Hackwood Stakes at Newbury.
Rated 115 after his fine fourth to Black Caviar in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot, I've credited him with an improved rating of 117 for his decisive four-length beating of Firebeam.
Like Mayson at Newmarket, he handled the testing conditions well. It's not often we have two such high class sprint performances on the same day - never mind only ten minutes apart!
GIOFRA FLIES FLAG FOR FRANCE IN FALMOUTH
As widely expected, Newmarket's Etihad Airways Falmouth Stakes went the way of France. However, it was not the much fancied Golden Lilac who took the spoils, but the Alain de Royer Dupre-trained Giofra who galloped through the unseasonal soft ground to land her first Group 1, writes Dominic Gardiner-Hill.
From a ratings perspective it was not a huge shock. She came into the race with a published rating in France of 115 which was the third highest in the ten-runner field, behind Golden Lilac (120) and runner-up Elusive Kate (116), and I believe she has improved slightly on that figure with a performance of 116.
It's not a particularly easy race to be confident about at this stage but I have taken the view that fourth placed Irish History (beaten five lengths) has reproduced her Coronation Stakes form of 106 which suggests that not only has Giofra improved a pound on her previous form, but that Elusive Kate has only run a pound off her two year old figure of 116.
Two things place a slight question-mark over the form - the slow early pace which only quickened up when Frankie Dettori went for home on Elusive Kate, and the proximity of the third French filly in the race, Siyouma, in third - she was rated 109 pre-race and appears to have stepped up on that to a new mark of 113.
As is so often the case with handicapping matters, we can only wait to see how this result shakes down as the season progresses.
Post-race talk regarding the winner suggested she would step back up in trip with a crack at the Arc being considered long-term, whilst Elusive Kate deserves a good deal of credit for her reappearance on ground that trainer John Gosden felt was far from ideal.
As I have said before, the pecking order amongst the three year old fillies over a mile is still not entirely clear and if she can build on this she will be a major player in the division in the second half of the season.
FIORENTE JUSTIFIES CONNECTIONS’ FAITH WITH FIRST GROUP WIN
When Fiorente finished second to Nathaniel in last year's King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot, connections clearly had very high hopes for the son of Monsun, writes Stephen Hindle.
On his next start, Fiorente was sent off 11-10 favourite for the Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, only to find another one too good, Namibian getting the better of him on that occasion.
After starting the current campaign with three further defeats, people could be forgiven for thinking Fiorente would not hit the racing big time.
In Newmarket's Princess of Wales's Stakes, however, he justified connections' faith to persist in pattern company (he'd previously won only a maiden) with an authoritative victory over some proven Group-class performers.
Fiorente's defeat of his six rivals in this Group 2 contest reads well. The second, Joshua Tree, is a former Group 1 winner, while the other five have all tasted success in Pattern company.
The third, Red Cadeaux, is a model of consistency. He has finished in the first three on his last eight starts, and we have him running within 2lb of his 116 rating on all of them.
Despite the fact there were a host of smart individuals in the race, this is not the easiest to assess. It's clear Fiorente is some way better than his pre-race mark of 108, but in beating Red Cadeaux by over four lengths, to have Red Cadeaux running up to his mark would suggest Fiorente has run to 119, which seems a little high, as that would also have Joshua Tree running to 115, a rating he hasn't appeared up to in the recent past.
In the end I looked at some of Fiorente’s past form and on a line through Nathaniel he can be 117, which conveniently puts him higher than any of his rivals at Newmarket, so I settled on that figure. Joshua Tree goes from 112 to 113 having finished two and three-quarter lengths behind him, while Red Cadeaux stays on 116 having run slightly below his mark a further one and a half lengths back, though still a good effort conceding weight to all his rivals.
Two days later, one of the best staying performances of the season was put up in the Listed Silver Cup, a handicap over the Ebor trip at York.
Mount Athos had a good campaign in 2011, finishing fourth in the Chester Cup, Old Newton Cup and Cesarewitch off a mark in the low 100s, but his career has blossomed since being sent to Luca Cumani, winning a handicap at Newmarket on his seasonal reappearance.
His latest display was altogether more impressive, however, as few horses are seen defying marks as high as 108 in competitive Flat handicaps.
Not only did Mount Athos win, he won well, showing an impressive turn of foot off the steady pace and scoring by four lengths, despite being eased, ahead of last-time-out winner High Jinx.
I rated the race using the third, Lyric Street, who finished a neck behind High Jinx. I felt Lyric Street should compete off the same mark that he ran off, despite the fact he was 1lb out of the handicap, because he has been as high as 98 in the past. That equated to a mark of 101, a rise of 1lb, for High Jinx.
Mount Athos, meanwhile, went up to 116 after factoring in a couple of pounds extra due to his being eased. That puts him only 1lb lower than Colour Vision, who won the Ascot Gold Cup. The Melbourne Cup is apparently Mount Athos’ long-term aim for.
KING’S WARRIOR REIGNS SUPREME IN JOHN SMITH’S CUP
Saturday saw the 53rd running of the time-honoured John Smith’s Cup over 10f at York, writes Greg Pearson.
Unexposed ex-French 5yo gelding King's Warrior destroyed what looked a competitive handicap field, scoring emphatically by four and a half-lengths from Mid Mon Lady and Media Hype.
I have rated the race through lightly raced four-year-old Stand To Reason reproducing a career best performance of 95 in finishing fourth beaten just under five lengths.
Having run off a handicap mark of 94, that has seen his rating increased by 1lb to 95 and he deserves credit for faring best of those that raced prominently in what was a strongly run contest.
King's Warrior has been raised 10lb from 91 to 101 for this dominant performance, and clearly with a penchant for soft ground he commands the utmost respect granted similar conditions in the coming weeks and months.
Mid Mon Lady (second) and Media Hype (third) have both been raised by 2lb from 100 to 102 and 91 to 93 respectively, and will meet the winner on 8lb better terms in future handicaps.
In particular Media Hype gave the impression his revised rating is unlikely to prove the ceiling of his ability, staying on in an eye-catching manner after not getting the clearest of runs in the straight – an increase in distance will surely suit on this evidence.
There was disappointment for connections and supporters of favourite Mijhaar, who got flattened when clipping the heels of weakening leader Fair Trade and nearly falling passing the three furlong pole.
His effort is best ignored as he lost all chance in this incident. While there was still a long way to go, there is little doubt in my mind Mijhaar was set to play a leading role in proceedings.
Connections of King's Warrior will be hoping the gelding can emulate the most recent winners of this race Green Destiny and Wigmore Hall, who both went on to record Group-race victories.
The blog appears courtesy of britishhorseracing.com