Sectionals show Lantern was finishing faster
16 July 2013
The beauty of sectional times is that you do not have to guess.
With the magic numbers in front of you a race can be analysed accurately.
For far too many years race readers have been forced to use their experience and the so-called trained eye to tell us all how fast a race was run and from that they have drawn conclusions about individual performances.
For too long race reading has been about pitting your knowledge against your fellow punters. This is all well and good but when all it does is lead to bogus conclusions it has no analytical merit whatsoever.
Sectional times allow accurate analysis to take place and thereby provides a framework within which we can all understand what goes on out on the track.
With this in mind I have had a look at the Turftrax sectional times from the July Meeting at Newmarket. They make for fascinating reading.
I am going to highlight five races, two of which are races where the sectional times explain the result and three of them which highlight horses whose efforts would not have been obvious to the naked eye but are brought into keen focus by the numbers.
As a rough guide, an even gallop over a mile on good ground can be described as one in which a horse completes every furlong in twelve seconds. Naturally this changes from course to course and with all the other variables in this great game of ours.
Elusive Kate was the winner and she kept the race following a Stewards’ inquiry. This is a simple race to analyse. Old fashioned race readers with an eye for the game could not get this one wrong and luckily for them the figures back up the visual impression, which is rarely the case.
Elusive Kate got an easy lead. She established a positional advantage and such was that advantage Sky Lantern could not close her down despite showing that she was faster than Elusive Kate over the last three furlongs.
A good look at the numbers shows that Elusive Kate established a lead on the rail early on by completing the first furlong in 16.05 and the second in 12.96, pedestrian for a Group One race.
Thereafter she maintained her advantage until the three furlong pole when Sky Lantern quickened up to run a furlong In 10.94 compared to Elusive Kate's 11.06. This move by Richard Hughes would have often proved decisive, but Elusive Kate had energy left because of the slow early fractions she set and they both zipped from the two furlong pole to the one pole in 10.59s.
The final furlong belonged to Sky Lantern, who came home in 11.56 compared to Elusive Kate who finished in 11.61.
This surge was not enough and Elusive Kate held on to win. The win on figures is clearly based on the advantage Elusive Kate gained early on in the race, but the figures do show that Sky Lantern was her superior in the last three furlongs, and crucially, the final furlong and as such it is hard to believe that the result was not affected by Elusive Kate drifting badly to her left in the closing stages.
The rules are clear and as such the right conclusion was drawn but the sectionals give us a different perspective.
This race was won by Lucky Kristale, who was visually quite impressive. She seemed to show a bright turn of foot to see off the Queen Mary winner Rizeena. The truth is that she benefited from a patient ride in a race that was run at a furious gallop. Beware the false prophets who say she would have won however the race was run.
The early pace was set by Fire Blaze, who scorched through the first furlong from a standing start in 14.3s.
Lucky Kristale refused the gallop and set off the pace completing the first furlong in 14.74s.
Thereafter Tom Queally kept the winner out of the heat of the action. This is exemplified by a comparison of her splits with the runner-up Rizeena. In every furlong of the race Rizeena was faster than Lucky Kristale apart from the final two furlongs, where Rizeena began to hang under pressure, a sure sign she had given her all.
The final finishing splits for the last two furlongs showed Lucky Kristale finishing strongly in 10.9 and 12.49.
In effect she ran the last two furlongs faster than her rivals because her energy was reserved early on in the race when the pace was strong.
Rizeena's last two splits were 11.23 and 12.78. These show that she was a bit too close to the furious early gallop and had she been ridden with more restraint she may well have won.
Lucky Kristale was a winner on merit, but she used her energy to best effect in a strongly-run race when others fell on their swords due to the overly strong early splits.
In the race won by Qwaasem the horse I wish to highlight is Valonia, the runner-up.
This filly was making her debut and was never far off the pace. She hit the front at the two furlong pole and then put in a blistering furlong of 10.88s – the fastest out of any of the 14 runners in the race and took her to the front.
She then paid for this in the final furlong stopping the clock at 12.17, compared to the winner's 11.92. Given her inexperience that one sub 11-second furlong in the latter stages of this race marks her out to be a good filly and better can be expected.
The horse I would like you to zoom in on is Nardin, who was third.
This was a seven-furlong contest and Nardin showed plenty of pace before fading into third. For the first six furlongs she was quicker over two of the furlongs than the winner and ran the same splits as the winner over three of those furlongs.
Then in the final furlong she weakened to complete in 13.15s compared to the winner in 12.99. I think the splits showed she did not stay. She was as quick as the winner at every point bar the final furlong and was keen under Paul Hanagan early on. She has already won over six furlongs and back at the trip she would be very interesting.
Finally, we look at the Bunbury Cup. Field of Dream won the race, but the sectionals show just how unlucky Dance And Dance was. Just as he was gathering momentum between the three pole and the two he was hampered and recorded a split of 11.22s. Only Brae Hill, the last horse home, was slower. Then he picked up again to come home in splits quicker than the winner.
It could be argued that the interference he suffered meant that he saved energy for his finishing splits, but in losing momentum between the three and the two it was impressive that he then picked up quickly to record the fastest final furlong. He is well handicapped to boot and is one to bear in mind.
One point I would like to make in conclusion is that whilst the figures speak for themselves they must also be analyzed in the context of the the track on which they have been produced. It would be completely false to analyze a downhill split as you would an uphill one. This is difficult to do without the benefit of a lot of data where comparisons can be drawn and races better understood. A stark example of is will come at Glorious Goodwood later this season where over six furlongs the second furlong is sharply downhill so we should not be getting over excited at 10 second splits at that part of the race. The more data we have the more we can understand and there is no better reason to champion their value.
I could go on. The figures reveal so much, but I hope you find these ideas interesting. Remember the figures never lie, and visual impressions are not always what they seem.
I am off for a week and will return with my five maxims for betting at Glorious Goodwood.