We are three weeks into the third All-Weather Championships and there is already plenty of consequence to report upon. Four “Fast-Track Qualifiers” – races which give the winners an automatic berth on Finals’ Day at Lingfield Park on 25 March 2016 – have taken place, each of them featuring useful performances or better.
Lamar earned a Timeform rating of 102 in landing the 32Red/ebfstallions.com Fleur de Lys Fillies’ Stakes at Lingfield on 29 October, though this was a highly tactical affair in which seven of the beaten fillies ran the last two furlongs quicker than did she (22.13s for last 2f). In particular, the runner-up Very Special (21.71s) could have a bigger say in future events.
Similar comments apply to Goken and Jamesie, the one-two in the Unibet Golden Rose Stakes on the same track on 14 November. Goken earned a rating of 110 but got the run of a rather messy race and came home in 21.98s against Jamesie’s 21.44s, the latter one of the fastest closing sectionals seen at the course in recent times.
On the same card, the coral.co.uk Churchill Stakes was of a better calibre still, with Let’s Go running to a Timeform figure of 114 in victory. Once more, this turned into something of a sprint finish, with the Godolphin-owned three-year-old (22.23s sectional) holding the strong late run of Grendisar (21.57s).
The sponsors made Let’s Go favourite at 5/2 for their Easter Classic on Finals’ Day, over Tryster at 4/1, despite the latter having had half a length to spare when the two met at Chelmsford in September. Timeform’s Master Ratings (which include upgrades for sectionals and ease of victory among other things) still have Tryster better at 123 compared to Let’s Go’s 117.
Very Special showed up for another FTQ in the EBF Stallions Hyde Stakes at Kempton Park on 18 November and ran better in second against colts and geldings than she had when filling the same position against Lamar at Lingfield Park by Timeform’s reckoning.
This was yet another slow-fast contest, in which Big Baz ran to 116 and posted a last-three-furlong sectional of 33.90s in prevailing. But he was not quite the fastest finisher, with that distinction going to third-placed Celestial Path (33.84s).
Sectional analysis points to Celestial Path being very nearly the equal of the winner: perhaps he will get another chance to prove his worth in a FTQ hereafter.
Those FTQs all had listed status but the last two punched above their weight on Timeform ratings.
“Race strengths” – the ratings of the first five weighted according to position – have the coral.co.uk Churchill Stakes (112.3) the strongest race of the third All-Weather Championships so far, just ahead of the Hyde (111.6), with both contests superior to the average race strength more widely of a British and Irish Group 3 (110).
The next FTQ – The 32Red Conditions Stakes (a qualifier for the 3YO Final) – takes place at Lingfield Park on Saturday 21 November, while Monday 23 November’s meeting at Chelmsford City has £153,000 in added prize money.
While talking in ratings, this is a good opportunity to take stock of the level of performance which has been required to win at the first two All-Weather Finals Days: benchmarks against which this season’s contenders can be measured in the lead-up to the big day.
Past Winners at All-Weather Finals Days
|32Red.com F/Mares||LIVING THE LIFE (100)||FRESLES (99)|
|Unibet Sprint||ALBEN STAR (116)||PRETEND (120)|
|32Red.com 3YO Mile||N/A||FOUR SEASONS (98)|
|Ladbrokes AW Mile||CAPTAIN CAT (116)||GREY MIRAGE (111)|
|Coral Easter Classic||GRANDEUR (116)||TRYSTER (122)|
|Unibet 3YO Sprint||N/A||LIGHTSCAMERACTION (103)|
|32Red.com Marathon||LITIGANT (110)||MYMATECHRIS (108)|
Significant Timeform ratings away from the FTQs in the period since the launch of the All-Weather Championships also came from: Famous Kid (119 in a 14f handicap at Chelmsford City on 06 November), Bancnuanaheireann (114 in 10f handicap at Chelmsford City on 05 November) and Mindurownbusiness (114 in 8f handicap at Lingfield on 14 November).
As an indication of just how good that effort from Famous Kid was, Timeform has only one horse (Litigant, 121 in the November Handicap) running a higher figure in a handicap in Britain and Ireland in 2015 to date.
In addition to several smart efforts, there have been some notably fast sectional performances (gathered through video analysis by Timeform), some of them mentioned above. Big Whiskey ran the fastest last 2f at Lingfield of these All-Weather Championships of 21.30s on 29 October, while Calder Prince ran the fastest last 3f at Chelmsford City of 33.43s on 07 November.
The latter achieved a respectable overall time in the circumstances while accounting for Harvard Man and two other rivals in a conditions race, and sectional upgrades suggest he will leave the bare form behind. That sectional is just 0.38s slower than Tryster’s course best, and Tryster is a 123-rated older horse whereas Calder Prince is still just a two-year-old.