Graeme North is back with his round-up of lessons learned from timefigure analysis over the last week including Snowfall, Hurricane Lane and Bayside Boy.
Saturday’s Newbury card saw the 30th running of the Weatherbys Super Sprint, a race that has bizarrely become the feature of the pre-King George weekend despite lacking either pattern status or a plethora of high-class animals, let alone a champion, among its recent winners.
True, last year’s winner Happy Romance landed the race that preceded the Super Sprint, the bet 365 Hackwood Stakes, while back in 2014 Tiggy Wiggy went on to land the Lowther and the Cheveley Park before finishing third in the 1000 Guineas, but by and large it’s a ‘chancer’s race’ where cheaply-bought animals can have a pop at a big prize otherwise outside their usual orbit.
This year’s renewal was fairly typical in that twenty-odd runners went to post, the winner Gubbass came from a stall 13 or higher (the last time a horse won from a single-figure draw was back in 2011) and the winning performance was barely more than useful.
That said, Gubbass, who like Happy Romance and Tiggy Wiggy was representing Ricard Hannon, might be one of the better recent winners.
Neither his 90 performance rating nor an 84 timefigure might suggest that, both toward the lower end of recent winning efforts, but he’d looked a useful prospect when handing out a 20lb beating to the now-useful Angel Bleu at Leicester back in April, running each of the last three furlongs easily faster than any of his rivals and might well have played a part at Royal Ascot but for his absence (Coventry third Vintage Clarets was back in sixth here while Windsor Castle winner Chipotle had a troubled run and came home ninth).
By Mehmas, he’ll be well suited by six furlongs and a pattern race ought to come his way.
Staying with the two-year-old’s, Timeform’s leading performer on time this season remains Go Bears Go, who went one better than his Norfolk Stakes second when landing a better-than-usual Railway Stakes at the Curragh last time in a timefigure of 111.
He just edges out the Chesham first- and second-Point Lonsdale (109) and Reach For The Moon (108) with Railway runner-up Castle Star and the first two in the July Stakes, Lusail and Asymmetric, all close behind on 107.
Two significant absences from that list who can be considered among the top youngsters are Kevin Ryan’s Atomic Force and Roger Varian’s Bayside Boy.
Atomic Force won his two Group races in France at Chantilly where Timeform don’t yet return timefigures, but even if the opposition in France tends to be a notch below what he would encounter here, five-length and two-and-a-half length wins from the front read well.
Bayside Boy is an altogether different type of youngster, more stoutly bred and who will be running at a mile before the season is out. A 200,000gns son of the emerging stallion New Bay, he ran out an emphatic winner of the opening novice at Newbury on Friday in a manner of one who’ll soon be winning Group races.
Patiently ridden in a race that was fairly well run (91 timefigure) Bayside Boy began to make good headway approaching the final furlong as the runner-up went clear before picking up in devastating fashion in the final furlong.
What is significant about this performance is that the runner-up, Find, on his previous start split two horses that went on to win at the Newmarket’s July meeting, the July Stakes winner Lusail and the promising maiden winner Noble Truth, while running the last three furlongs a length quicker than Lusail from a less promising position.
Timeform’s own sectionals have Bayside Boy running the fastest last half-mile at Newbury by one second, giving him a 5lb upgrade, but those available on the RacingTV website do him more justice with his final three furlongs being around seven lengths faster than Find and his last furlong getting on for four lengths faster.
The Vintage Stakes at the upcoming Glorious Goodwood Festival will probably come too soon for him but the Solario Stakes at Sandown next month could be his springboard to a much wider appreciation.
Royal Ascot form generally held up well at Newbury with the Chesham runner-up Reach For The Moon winning a novice event, the Britannia winner Real World winning the Listed bet365 Steventon Stakes and the Kensington Palace Handicap fourth Declared Interest winning a fillies handicap.
Timeform’s sectional upgrades have the placed hold-up horses Serenading and Dalanijujo getting very close to the more prominently ridden Declared Interest, but I’d be surprised if she wasn’t able to beat them readily again even on revised terms.
Declared Interest was one of a handful of horses in the Kensington Palace who covered a much greater distance than the winner Lola Showgirl (the subsequent Pontefract Listed winner Lights On being the most notable of them) and it wouldn’t be surprising if Declared Interest, who was dossing in front at Newbury while returning a 98 timefigure, is up to winning a Listed race herself very soon, not least when she is stepped back up to a mile and a quarter, a trip she stays well but has yet to try this season.
The best action in Europe last week took place over in France where Hurricane Lane followed up his win in the Irish Derby by landing the Grand Prix de Paris at ParisLongchamp on Bastille Day.
The Grand Prix was something of a rerun of the Irish Derby with Curragh third Wordsworth faring best of Aidan O’Brien’s three challengers in second place and getting a bit closer - six lengths as opposed to just over seven - to the winner without once again really threatening.
The Grand Prix was one of two mile-and-a-half Group races on the card, the other being the Prix de Malleret confined to fillies, and was the noticeably slower run of the pair (3.15 seconds slower to 600m from home) which meant that Hurricane Lane was never going the break the clock, but a timefigure of 100 along, with a 14lb upgrade from 600m out, is none too shabby in the circumstances.
The last time a horse won the Grand Prix de Paris by six lengths was in 1990 and that horse - Saumarez – went on to land the Arc, but, in truth, Hurricane Lane faced a relatively straightforward task in France, and he can still be backed at 10/1.
Cheshire Academy, a horse mentioned in this column a couple of times, has taken a walk in that same market having finished only eighth behind Hurricane Lane. Yes, that run was disappointing, but the slow-fast nature of the Grand Prix wouldn’t have suited this out-and-out galloper and he’s not one to give up on just yet.
Heading the Arc market (though she needs to be supplemented) is another horse who was in action this weekend in the shape of Oaks winner Snowfall, whose presence in the Juddmonte-sponsored version at the Curragh frightened away pretty much all credible opposition. Indeed, her nearest challenger on form according to Timeform – Willow, the winner of a Listed race at Naas since finishing last at Epsom – had no less than 19lb to find. Sent off at 2/7, it would have been unreasonable to expect Snowfall to reproduce her 122 timefigure from Epsom, but in posting 116 under hands and heels she wasn’t far off and confirmed to anyone unconvinced by her performance at Epsom that she is a top-class filly who deserves her place at the head of the market for the Arc.
A maiden hurdle at Sligo is a long way from a Classic at the Curragh, but I’ve had a couple of messages asking for a few more summer jumpers to look out for and one horse that caught my eye at the Irish venue the Sunday before last was Ruleout who finished third in the second division of a maiden hurdle.
The time was almost identical to the first division, but the race was run at a much stronger gallop and stronger too even than the handicap two races later won by the 129-rated Goulane Chosen. That gallop took its toll in the latter stages, naturally, and pace-forcer Ruleout, who was having his first race over hurdles having shown promise in bumpers, ended up being overhauled by two he had looked far superior to for much of the race.
Maiden hurdles in Ireland are weak affairs at this time of year and he should be able to win one at least in the next couple of months.
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