Racing UK

Editor's Blog

Why we can’t eulogize Sole Power properly

23 August 2014

Sole Power was 0.15 seconds faster in the final furlong than any other runner in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York on Friday, according to Turftrax.

Edward Lynam’s evergreen seven-year-old flew home in the final 220 yards in 11.97 seconds, beating comfortably G-Force’s time in the same part of the race.

Unsurprisingly it was the only furlong in which Sole Power was faster than any other horse, but we will never know how fast he went when he squeezed through the gap between Moviesta and Hot Streak .

According to the times, Sole Power was simply sustaining his run that started three furlongs previously, and was holding on at the finish better than anything else.

Sole Power was almost a second slower in the final furlong of the Group One sprint than he was in the previous furlong, which equates to around four lengths. That is a huge differential.

You could argue that in the haste to keep tabs on Take Cover, ridden by James Doyle, jockeys went too quickly, as every horse in the race was slowing down dramatically in the final two furlongs.

Moviesta and Stepper Point, for instance, ran the fastest split time of the race at 10.27s, but then slowed down for Moviesta to run 12.38s in the final furlong, and Stepper Point 12.31s.

The brilliance of Richard Hughes’ ride lay in the fact that he was content to sit out, almost last, for much of the early stages.

There are three main outlets to race comments in the UK. The Press Association, Racing Post and Timeform

Look at their analysis of the race below.

Racing Post.

“Held up in rear, headway and switched right over 1f out, soon not clear run and switched left inside final furlong, squeezed through and quickened well to lead last 40yds.”

The race reader who produces the results for the Press Association saw the race in this manner.

“Steadied start, held up in rear, switched right over 1f out, soon switched left, strong headway when short of room inside final furlong, ran on to lead close home, driven out.”

Timeform went with:

“Waited with, travelled strongly, headway when met some trouble over 1f out, forced to switch, had to wait for a gap inside final 1f, almost ran out of time but quickened smartly to lead close home.” 

According to the Turftrax data Sole Power was slowing down dramatically in the final furlong, so how have the Racing Post and Timeform come up with “quickened”?

Sole Power’s time of 11.97s is for the final furlong as a whole, but Sole Power’s bid for glory took place midway through the final furlong.

How fast was that? Well, I have gone back through the replay time and again, and from the moment Hughes lines up the gap and pushes for home my hand time suggests Sole Power finished in 4.8 seconds, but even then Hughes had stopped riding, safe in the knowledge he was clear.

Racing fans are largely kept in the dark in comparison to other sports. In Formula One we know how fast cars are going. In cricket each ball’s speed is relayed in real time back to the viewer. Even skiing has split times and the real-time speed of the participants.

There are numerous reasons why certain sections of the sport want sectional times, but we can’t even laud our champions properly if we can’t accurately assess what made a whole grandstand gasp in astonishment on the Knavesmire on Friday. We will never know if Sole Power quickened, or merely stayed on better than the rest.

As for today’s action I have narrowed down the Ebor field to five horses, which is not much use unless, like me, you like a tilt at an Exacta.

Pallasator has an obvious chance, but I’m perming Might Yar, Retirement Plan, Wadi Al Hattawi and De Rigeur.

Have a good Bank holiday.

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