A month has passed since the previous episode of Clock Watcher, so it's high time we had another rummage through the sectional archives for interesting morsels.
In this gripping instalment, I'll share two potentially hot races and, firstly, two progressive hold up types whose limit may not have been reached.
Feel The Chil
We start with the latter pair, and a horse so good they named her twice. Chil Chil is her name; she's a sprinter who has moved through the handicap ranks from an opening mark of 63 to her current peg of 94. Hold up horses who generally find a way to win, like this daughter of Exceed And Excel who has won four of her last six, can stay ahead of the handicapper for longer than most as a result of their run style.
Of course, the leaders don't always come back which is the perennial frustration of backing closers but, in the case of Andrew Balding's four-year-old, such irritations have thus far been kept to a minimum.
As can be seen from those races for which we have sectional data - that is, Ascot and the TPD courses - her most recent effort was comfortably her most impressive. Settled at the rear, she was still four-and-a-half lengths last after the first third of the six-furlong contest. Indeed, she remained last with a quarter mile to go, though only three lengths behind the leader at that juncture. Thereafter, Chil Chil finished much the best and was most of two lengths clear by the line.
Because it was a slowly run affair early - note the winner's red chart line is beneath the light grey 'par' line in the image below - Chil Chil had more energy to expend in the latter part of the race and finished well above par, albeit that there is limited confidence in a very small number of races in our sample at this track/trip.
After a very steady (from a standing start) opening furlong, she then ran 11.78, 11.53, 11.30, 11.38, and 11.73 second furlongs. The final time of the race was unexceptional - though not slow either - but the addition of a 16 point upgrade (see the right hand side UP column) suggests this effort can be marked up considerably.
The handicapper obviously thought so, too, as he elevated her from 85 to 94 but there's at least a reasonable chance she's still hiding some of her light under that late charge bushel.
Omnivega's Too Late Charge
Talking of the charge of the late brigade - see what I did there? - let's discuss Omnivega. The David Simcock-trained four-year-old son of Siyouni ran in a mile and a half handicap on the same Ascot card as Chil Chil, but did not win. Instead, he rattled home late - too late - to be a never nearer fourth, beaten little more than a length.
The upgrade figures are chunky all round because the first half of the race was pretty steady; but look at that trio of red bars in the second half - and compare those against the trio of orange bars, representing the race sectional percentages, at the top.
Omnivega ran the last quarter mile a third of a second and more quicker than any of his eleven rivals and arguably should have won. He's been left on 90 by the handicapper, and retains a progressive profile after chalking up a hat-trick on the all-weather (check out that 60 (!) upgrade off a funereal early tempo at Lingers!).
Hot Race #1: Mohawk King For A Day?
The winner of a warm-looking Ascot juvenile maiden towards the end of July, Mohawk King, was making his debut for Richard Hannon and owner Isa Salman Al Khalifa. Slowly away, he sat quietly towards the rear before making up the two lengths deficit he'd conceded easily. It was quite hard work to finish the job off, mainly due to the tenacity of second-placed Churchill Bay, but finish it off he did and both he and the second look high class recruits.
Churchill Bay puts his credentials to the test once more on Tuesday at York in a six-furlong nursery: he will be the first of the first five home from this race to test their mettle on the Knavesmire this week. Mohawk King himself attempts to take another step forward when potentially contesting the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes on Thursday.
In third and fourth were a brace of Hamdan horses, Mayaas and Minzaal, both taking the eye. The latter, and his rider Tom Marquand, were slowest to react to the sudden quickening of the tempo but were closing well on the run to the line. Minzaal has since confirmed the promise of that effort by scoring with ease at Salisbury and, like Mohawk King, is entered in the Gimcrack. There was a length and a half between them in this Ascot race and that margin may narrow this time.
Mayaas, for his part, was only a couple of hundredths of a second slower than the winner through the last quarter mile and runs in a York nursery off 83 on Wednesday. It will be interesting to see how he fares over that extra furlong and he's my idea of the most appealing bet from the Ascot to York quintet: his trainer, William Haggas, is a Yorkshireman exiled in Newmarket and he relishes Ebor week as much as any of his fellow county handlers. El Patron, fifth here, is also engaged in that contest.
Portrush Enables Prince to Dream Again
A month ago now, Portrush, who is Enable's half-sister by Frankel, made her second start. It is impossible for a filly with such an illustrious older sibling to enjoy a low-profile spin and so there was much focus on this second day at school after a very encouraging debut silver medal behind a good one at Newbury. Sent off the 11/10 favourite, Portrush was made to work for her victory, eventually coming home a neck in front of the Godolphin runner, White Mountain, with the 88-rated Tanita a further three-quarters of a length away in third.
That trio pulled six lengths clear of the other septet, whose subsequent 0-from-5 record can be ignored on account of them being essentially in a different (lower) division of the same race.
The sectionals show that the opening seven furlongs of this ten-furlong contest were even to slowly run, but mainly even, and that the closing three furlongs were very fast. Looking first at the chart below, note how the coloured sectional percentage lines follow the grey par line through the first half mile (to the 7-6 point) before diverging, markedly so from the 3-2 point.
That divergence is reflected in the orange and red colour bars in the inline result data for the first three home.
The time was decent if unspectacular intimating that these three distaffs have engines; the upgrade figures on top of those raw times suggest there is a good bit more to come from each of them.