4.25 Ascot (19-06-2013) – ROYAL HUNT CUP (HERITAGE HANDICAP) 1m (28 ran)
Aaaahh...the cavalry charge that is the Royal Hunt Cup! From a pace perspective it was one of the more clear cut races of the week and as such it is next under the spotlight in the 2013 BDH Royal Ascot review...
Race in focus: 4.25 Ascot (19-06-2013): Royal Hunt Cup – 1m, Class 2 Handicap (28 ran)
How the race played out…
The field split into 2 distinct groups; 7 stayed low whilst the others all stayed or went middle to high. As you can see from the pace map it was the low numbers that held the pace advantage, in the end it was a fairly hefty advantage, with the first 4 home all coming from the low group and the 5th coming form stall 10. Educate switched all the way over from his 11 box and ended up running in essentially the 28 box position, a move that severely compromised his chances. Prince of Johanne & Stirring Ballad both made late switches after about 2 furlongs and went across to the larger group on the stands side, again severely compromising their chances. Arsaadi set a strong pace for the low numbers and he was backed up by a clutch of pace pushers, all this played to the hands of Belgian Bill who picked them off from out the back of the small group. This is a good example of the fact it doesn't matter if you have a large group to run with, the important aspect is that you have a group with plenty of pace in it. Had the horses that switched late stayed low instead I'm in no doubt they would have finished much closer.
The end result…
As already mentioned the winner, BELGIAN BILL, was given a fantastic tow into the race by the pace pushing runners in front of him. He was able to hook onto the back of this pace quite easily and strike inside the final furlong, winning fairly readily in the end. Second placed PREMIO LOCO fired in his best run for some time and this was not only a sign that he benefited from being where the pace was but also that he benefited from dropping back into handicaps and sits on what is probably a pretty handy mark. Third placed ARSAADI did most of the donkey work down the bottom end, which isn't really her style, and in the process recorded a career best on the figures. She had been dropped 4lbs since her last start and there are signs that this new mark is much more within her range. Fourth placed DONT CALL ME ran 3rd in this race last year but that was from a 14lb lower mark and he was another than quite rightly was handed a career best RPR figure. As with the others round about him he also benefited from being where the pace was. Fifth placed DAVID LIVINGSTONE was the first runner home that wasn't in the far side group. The break-away group had grabbed enough of an advantage, however, by the time he got into top gear and despite this being a decent effort it was, ultimately, in vain. Sixth placed FIELD OF DREAM put in some sterling late work and almost nabbed the race on his side of the track, only failing by a short-head to peg back David Livingstone. He was held up out the back of the big group and that made life difficult for him, mainly because he had to get a tow into the race from runners that were a length or two down on the pace setting low drawn group.
The facts are that the low numbers kicked the middle and high numbers butts here! Anything running well from the middle to high ranges deserves our utmost attention...
BDH(s) to follow…
FIELD OF DREAM (6th) (J Osborne)
This 6yo gelded son of Oasis Dream put in some fine late work from his unfavourable draw and was finishing with some rattle once jockey Adam Kirby had him stoked up. For me this was a clear indicator that he has now slipped down to a winnable, or at the very least, competitive handicap mark. He won a valuable handicap at the track last July from a mark of 99 and was then raised in the weights to marks in the 100's (went as high as 104 at one stage). Although he ran some decent races from those career high marks (including a decent 4th off 103 at Ascot last September) he did give the impression that he was in the grip of the handicapper. He ran here off a mark of 98 and in the process recorded his best RPR figure since the aforementioned 4th last September, again another indicator he is coming to the boil.
A quick look at his overall record tells us these straight track races are where he is at his most potent...
Form on straight tracks - 4 wins from 15 starts
Form when racing round a bend - 0 wins from 11 starts
He seems to really relish the cut and thrust of tanking down a straight track and my inclination is that this is where we should be looking to get the money down on him.
It should also be noted that 3 of his 4 career wins have come when returning within 30 days of his last start (other came on racecourse debut in Italy) and it does look like he is a horse that performs at his optimum when he has had a recent run (within the last month). His form when running after a break of 31 days or more reads 300370852068 and also backs up that a recent run is preferable.
There was plenty of talk about the draw in this race (mainly concerning Richard Hughes and his switching tactics) but there is every chance this fast finishing effort from the Osborne horse skips under the radar a touch.
Conditions – We can keep it simple with this one; a straight track, running withing 30 days of his last start and from or around his current mark of 98.
He looks to be coming into form and is now back to a mark he can win from, the added bonus with him is that he isn't that often well supported in the market.
FIELD OF DREAM now enters my Proform ‘Horse Watcher’ tool (horse tracker in other words) and I will post on the Blog when he is due to run next.
For more articles and analysis of a similar in-depth nature please visit my Blog at Badly Drawn Horse.