Performance metrics: Small degrees can make a big difference in sprints

Tinto (Jason Watson,nearside) beats Wise Words (Oisin Murphy) in the 5f Corpracare handicapBath 16.7.19 Pic: Edward Whitaker
Tinto (stripes) has the right make-up for 6f at LingfieldCredit: Edward Whitaker

Could you discern whether one horse takes an extra stride every ten seconds over another? Would you even imagine that it matters?

It turns out it does, and these small margins become more important the shorter the distance that horses race over. For winners over seven furlongs, the sweet spot in terms of cadence sits around 2.30 strides per second. Dropped to sprints it is 2.40.

Saturday's Flat action comes from Lingfield and, as a sharp track where runners tend to finish fast, those with quicker strides potentially have an added advantage in being able to change pace more quickly.

3.15 Lingfield card

In short, you do not particularly want to be going in deep on a horse who strides like a typical seven-furlong horse, which is exactly what Gifted Master does.

He has won a Stewards' Cup, of course, and acts at the track, but the overwhelming majority of his best form has come at seven furlongs, or at least a testing six furlongs.

One who has not shown himself adept over Lingfield's undulations is Tinto, but the indications are he will take to it. He has really taken off in recent months and earned a crack a Pattern company with a handicap win at Ascot off 96 last month.

The crux is that Tinto is a pure sprinter. His cadence of 2.39 strides per second is perfect for a six-furlong horse and he has duly done most of his racing at either a stiff five furlongs or an easy six furlongs.

Combine that with his stride length of 25 feet, which corresponds to a high level of ability (Gifted Master, the highest-rated in the field on BHA figures and recent RPRs, strides very slightly shorter) and Tinto is well worth his place in this field.

He may not have had much joy on his first run in Pattern company in France last time, but he has been prematurely written off on that basis.

All data courtesy of Total Performance Data, whose tracking covers more than 20 courses in the UK and North America