THE BHA HANDICAPPERS
Weblog: View from the team behind the official ratings
Nazreef: was one of three horses to post 100 plus performancesPICTURE: Getty Images
Mile performers to the fore on the Flat
We expect the NH handicappers to be out in force next week following Aintree's showcase meeting and this week sees a shorter piece concentrating on the Flat.
Our 1m handicapper Dominic Gardiner-Hill runs the rule over a good-quality meeting that took place at Kempton on Saturday, whilst 7f assessor Graeme Smith details the sort of considerations that went into rating an above-average maiden winner when having relatively little form to go on.
A relatively quiet week over 1m burst into life at Kempton on Saturday with four interesting races over the distance, producing three performances in excess of 100, writes Dominic Gardiner-Hill.
All-weather regular Nazreef set the ball rolling with a convincing three-length success in the Betfred Goals Galore (London Mile) Handicap off a mark of 96.
At the age of five and having his eleventh start on the AW, I didn't think there was much more to know about Hughie Morrison's gelding but with the benefit of a first time visor and a canny front running ride from Darryl Holland, he produced a career-best and will be raised 7lb to 103.
Unfortunately for him, opportunities on the AW at that level will be few and far between and a return to turf must surely be imminent. He is nowhere near as effective on the grass and I have raised his turf mark just 2lb to 87 - the mark off which he was a very creditable fifth (beaten under two lengths) in the Spring Cup at Newbury last April.
As I say Holland deserves the plaudits for the ride he gave Nazreef and it was a race in which it proved impossible to make any great impact from behind - the first four home filled those same positions throughout and a number of horses deserve another chance off the marks they ran off, so any changes that weremade were nothing more than tweaks with the out of form pair of The Tichborne (-2lb to 85) and Final Drive (-3lb to 90) getting the biggest drops.
The best performance of the day belonged to Captivator in taking the Listed Betfred Mobile Sports Snowdrop Stakes.
Using well-supported runner-up Law of the Range (104) as a guide to the level of the race, I have James Fanshawe's filly running to a career-high 105; progressive when campaigned over 1m2f last season, the drop in trip seemed to suit and she is raised from her pre-race 94 to 105. It will be interesting to see if this form stands up as the season progresses and whether Captivator can transfer this improvement back on to the turf.
Next up was Mick Channon's Laugh Out Loud in the Betfred "When Both Teams Score" Stakes. Something of an unknown quantity and rated only 80 after a ten-length course-and-distance maiden victory in February, she came with a wet sail and performed to 96 in winning going away from runner-up Way Too Hot (93).
The key to the race appears to be the Hannon-trained third Esentepe who was by far the most exposed of the ten runners (having her tenth career start) and, in my book, is unlikely to have improved on her pre-race mark of 92.
Possibly the most interesting filly from the race is Godolphin's Tactfully who came from a very unpromising position to finish fourth. I'm sure Mickael Barzalona will have many fine hours during his association with the "boys in blue" but this is unlikely to be numbered amongst them. Raised from 85 to 91 for this effort, she left the impression she should be capable of better, possibly over further.
The third 100+ performance of the meeting was produced by the John Gosden-trained Eastern Sun in the Betfred "Double Delight" Stakes.
The key to the race appears to be Leqqaa (95 - third) and Lord of the Shadows (98 - fifth) pretty much running to their marks suggesting that, taking into account the ease and style of win, Eastern Sun has run to 103.
He holds an entry in the 2,000 Guineas and whilst he will have to improve another stone plus to make any sort of impact there he should pay his way this season, possible over 1m2f rather than this 1m.
Runner-up Miblish went into the race rated 78 and is judged to have improved by 19lb to 97. When making a decision like this the handicapper is always looking for good reasons as to why a horse may have shown such dramatic improvement and the crucial factor here appears to be the wearing of a tongue tie for the first time...and he is trained by Clive Brittain!!
Post-race comments suggest Born To Surprise's dominant display in a 7f maiden at Doncaster last Sunday was anything but unexpected, writes Graeme Smith.
Sent off 7-4 favourite on the back of a second placing at Warwick on his sole juvenile outing, the imposing son of Exceed And Excel bounded clear from the penultimate furlong under hands-and-heels riding from Jamie Spencer, opening up a six-length margin prior to being eased down for a five-length success.
It's hard to be dogmatic about what he achieved with the vast majority of the field lightly raced, but previous form lines suggested I put the runner-up Star Date in on a mark around 78 and the sixth-placed Take Two on around 65.
A line through the latter at 65 put Star Date's performance at 76 - I'm happy to reason he'd have finished 2lb/one length closer had he raced in closer touch given the work he did late - and generated a bare figure of 86 for Born To Surprise.
Adding in 2lb for the length he was eased, plus an estimated 4lb for the fact he produced this performance without ever coming under maximum pressure, I arrived at a handicap mark of 92 for Born To Surprise.
A figure above 90 would make finding a handicap very difficult for Born To Surprise's trainer Michael Bell (most handicaps of that sort of value require a horse to have run three times), but it looks as though his sights are set on the Group 3 Craven Stakes in any case.
His dam, Dubai Surprise, won twice in Group 3 company and was runner-up in a Group 1, and it will come as no surprise to me if he increases his rating further still when given the opportunity to run against better horses.
This blog appears courtesy of britishhorseracing.com