OXTED (centre, Cieren Fallon) beats BATTAASH (right) ARECIBO (2nd right) and EXTRAVAGANT KID (red) in The King's Stand Stakes Royal Ascot 15 Jun 2021 - Pic Steven Cargill / Racingfotos.com

Royal Ascot 2021 Clock Watcher: Sectional Horses of Interest

The searing heat of battle that is Royal Ascot is now a fading memory but its impact on the form book will permeate throughout the remainder of this season and beyond. Picking performances of extreme merit is not difficult - Poetic Flare's demolition in the St James's Palace Stakes, Subjectivist's similar one horse show in the Gold Cup to name two - but profiting from such knockout efforts is more challenging, unless you have deep pockets, a fearless outlook and no eye for value.

In this post, then, I'd like to look a bit further down the running orders in search of a few horses who may have achieved more than their notation in the records suggests; and I'll undertake this act of faint clairvoyance (after all, every soothsayer performs their oracle on the basis of what they see before them that the recipient cannot necessarily yet see for themselves) through the prism of sectional timing information.

There is, I hope, slightly less smoke and mirrors than your average gypsy caravan crystal ball encounter in what follows but, as with tarot readings, time will tell on that!

One final note before I begin: this article was inspired by one covering the same subject produced by the perma-excellent Simon Rowlands, which can be read here. We are both looking at the TPD sectional data so there will be commonalities; but there is also sufficient differentiation - as well as an opportunity for me to highlight how readily such performances advertise themselves on these pages - to justify treading a similar path.

A Quick Whizz Through The Mechanics

First of all, finding results for a specific meeting on a given date is as easy as selecting the date, either from the 'Recent Results' or 'Results Search' buttons, and then choosing the meeting in question from the dropdown.

Finding racing results for a specific meeting on a specific date

 

Clicking the red 'Full Result' button for a race takes you to that result. Gold subscribers will see on the right hand side of the result a column called 'UP':

 

This is the sectional upgrade figure our algorithm has allocated to the horse in question. For example, in the above image Palace Pier got an upgrade of 3. You can also see these upgrades highlighted in certain circumstances on our Fast Finishers report (rightmost column):

 

I'll not go into detail on how the upgrade figure is calculated but it is of course important to understand what the number is attempting to measure. It is in essence a barometer of how much more a horse may have to give in a more agreeable race setup; put another way, it seeks to quantify the degree to which the way a horse ran compromised its chance. A third way of couching is how sub-optimal, or inefficient, was the performance in terms of energy distribution.

Management summary: the bigger the upgrade figure, the more - notionally - the horse may have had to offer.

To the races... (at last, Ed.)

Tuesday

On the opening day, the Group 1 King's Stand Stakes was quick through the middle section and commensurately slow at the end (finishing speed in the turquoise box of 97% - the colour coding is a little unreliable at Ascot where there is, at this stage, a small sample of data with which to work).

Oxted was a fine, and thoroughly efficient, winner of the race, he and second-placed Arecibo benefiting from well-timed rides. Of the first four home it is clear from the UP column that Battaash should be marked up most. He served it up in that rapid middle section and faded late on. Given that he was coming back from surgery for his seasonal bow, this was a performance of promise and presumably he'll now head to Goodwood for the King George Stakes and then on to York for the Nunthorpe as he has done with metronomic regularity in each of the past four seasons.

But down in the cheap seats are a couple of double digit upgrades. Care does need to be taken sometimes with big UP figures far from the podium positions, especially when achieved by big-priced outsiders. In this case, we have a brace of 11's for 7/1 Winter Power and 40/1 Maven.

And, in this case, my contention is that both should be treated as of just about equal merit. They were drawn next to each other, they were both within a length (or so) of the lead to the furlong pole, and they both faded late. As a Wes wunner, it may be that we don't see Maven again until this time next year, but Winter Power is likely to attend all the midsummer five furlong dances if her nine races in little more than four months last season is any gauge.

In the 1m6f Copper Horse Stakes, the Charlie Fellowes-trained Dubious Affair closed well but just too late. Depending on your view of jockey Jamie Spencer, it was either a great but unlucky ride or a shocking cockup. Very few seemingly take a neutral view of that particular pilot. Personally, I'm in the great rider camp, and he was unlucky here, as were connections of course.

Fellowes' Royal Ascot handicap record is worthy of a mention. After a couple of years getting the hang of things, he's recorded three winners, two seconds and a fourth from ten runners since 2017. The winners were 33/1 twice and 20/1, and Dubious Affair would have been a third 33/1 score.

Wednesday

The feature of the Queen's Vase, a 1m6f Group 2 for three-year-olds, was the steady tempo at which is was run, borne out by upgrades in the teens for most of the first eight home. Kemari benefited from his prominent position, getting first run on waited with rivals. Stowell and Benaud, both 6 1/4 lengths off the lead at the half mile pole closed well but could never overcome the head start they'd afforded those up top. Of the pair, Stowell may be of slightly more interest in future, though both retain plenty of upside in staying company.

I've highlighted the in-running comment for Wordsworth, because he too was probably inconvenienced by the run of the race. Not in a sectional sense but, rather, by dint of the fact that he would likely have benefited from a more truly run event. He's a definite St Leger player in my view.

 

Indie Angel was a big price but an unambiguous winner of the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes. Coming from near last to win going away, she could be a live one for a Group 1 like the Sun Chariot in early October.

In the Windsor Castle, Ruthin ran a stormer despite finishing no better than 7th. Drawn 12 of 27, the least favoured part of the track, Frankie jumped in front and tacked left across to the near (stands') rail. Before considering the fuel guzzled in trapping and making the running in a big field five furlong juvenile contest, there is the ground covered in manoeuvring 15 stall widths across the track, quite probably more than the eventual 3 1/2 length margin of defeat.

It may of course all be moot anyway unless you wager US racing because we're unlikely to see Ruthin this side of the pond any time soon. That said, she's one to follow and could end up at the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, hosted at Del Mar in early November.

Just behind Ruthin was Guilded, now a three race maiden and a 66/1 shot this time. She too was on the speed and, though berthed better than the US runner, still deserves plenty of credit for this effort. She looks a near certainty (don't quote me!) in an ordinary novice event perhaps on a slightly easier track.

Thursday

Mohaafeth was an exciting winner of the Hampton Court Stakes and looks destined for greater things. In behind, perhaps Movin Time is another to take from the race. Getting no cover and racing wide early was not the plan, and then being interfered with would have lit him up a little; in that context, the fact he hit the front two from home before fading is creditable. A lesser Pattern score is within his grasp.

 

In the Ribblesdale, Eshaada was an unlucky second. While the winner received an enterprising ride, Rab Havlin controlling the pace through the second half of the race, those in behind were all compromised to some degree - as is generally the case when one gets an easy lead. Havlin kicked at the optimal time for his filly and the others were varying degrees of unable to pull back the leash. Eshaada got nearest in spite of being remarkably weak in the markets all day. Divinely is another who closed from too far back.

The Britannia Stakes featured a number of significant upgrades and, by now, I hope you'll be able to spot them, and add to your tracker if you'd like, by yourself:

 

Friday

Between Thursday and Friday, it got wet. Very wet. The going pendulum swung a full arc and was heavy for the penultimate day. That will have ruined the chances of many more than those officially declared non-runners.

The opening Albany Stakes was a personal triumph for geegeez-sponsored jockey David Probert, who rode the winner, Sandrine. But it was the filly who followed her home, Hello You, that goes (actually, stays) on my list. A massive sectional eye-catcher (and, in truth, an eye eye-catcher!) on debut when scooting away from her (uncharacteristically well-touted for the track) field at Wolverhampton, she built on that here, travelling nicely to lead at the furlong pole before, I presume, finding her closing kick blunted by the ground. She could be a very smart filly over six and seven furlongs this season.

 

The six furlong Commonwealth Cup, a Group 1, was controversial as a result of the revised placings of the first two home. Further back were two performances also of merit for the future. While Suesa was on everyone's radar beforehand - the French filly was sent off 9/4 favourite - and ran better than her finishing position suggests, it is the Irish-trained filly Mooneista I'm most interested in.

Trained by the unfashionable Jack Davison, she's been running consistently well, largely in defeat, for two seasons. Here, she closed to within two lengths of the lead at the furlong pole before folding to an eight-length beating at the line. But most of her best form is over five furlongs. When returned to that trip I expect she'll be very competitive.

 

There were three more sectional possibles for the Tracker in the Sandringham, which I'll again allow you to pick out if you'd like:

 

Saturday

The Wokingham was a classic two for one race, the far side having much the best of it. But it is the eighth horse home, Punchbowl Flyer, who goes on my list. First of nine home on the stands' side, history tells us he had no chance of taking this race, instead convincingly scoring in his division. Left on 99 by the handicapper, that arguably makes him a winner without a penalty and, given he'd won his previous two he looks likely to be competitive wherever he shows up next. For similar reasons, Lampang may also step forward next time.

 

Summary

There were some incredible performances last week in Berkshire, and some less obvious ones which might pay their way going forwards. I hope the above has offered a few for the notebooks and, more than that, I hope it's tempted you to play around with this intel on the results. The sectional data appears on results a day or two after the races and it takes, literally, a few seconds to scan a race for big UP figures. Thereafter, a quick squint at the context in which that figure was attributed will leave you with a decision about whether to note the horse for a future assignment.

It's simple enough because we've done most of the legwork: do take a look!

Good luck,

Matt

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6 replies
  1. 10 Things You Didn't Know about Geegeez Racecards
  2. Andrew McHugh (sparty6)
    Andrew McHugh (sparty6) says:

    Interesting reading Matt. Certainly whetted my appetite to take a deeper dive into this angle!

    Reply
    • Matt Bisogno
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Good stuff, Andrew. Plenty of interesting horses to follow. And, if you go further back, you can ‘sort of’ paper trade the figures by picking out horses and seeing how they fared in relevant setups subsequently.

      Best,
      Matt

      Reply
  3. scdean
    scdean says:

    Hi Matt
    Really interesting stuff. I own a tiny bit in Guilded and by coincidence was telling a mate last night that I needed to check the sectional times as the view after the race was that we probably chased the Wesley Ward horse too much in the early stages and ran out of gas towards the end. Sure enough your data confirms that view. I share your opinion that she should win an ordinary novice event. However that isn’t Nick Bradley’s style. It looks like we’re off to the Newbury Supersprint on 17 July where I think she gets in off about 8st 3lb.
    Steve

    Reply
    • Matt Bisogno
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Best of luck, Steve. She can win an ordinary novice after she’s run well in the Super Sprint. She looks a nice filly, fingers crossed for you.

      Matt

      Reply
  4. Denmania
    Denmania says:

    Hi Matt,

    I’m slightly unclear as to the unit of the upgrade figure? Is it lbs in terms of a OR/RPR/TS/SR?

    Reply
    • Matt Bisogno
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Ian

      It’s unrelated to any of those. It’s based on relative time and finishing speed percentage against our par figures for each course and distance.

      I did experiment with applying it to Topspeed, but it was a bit of a cut and shut.

      It is best to consider the upgrade figure as a barometer of how much more the horse could have offered whilst also being mindful, in a general sense, of the speed at which the race was run (based on a speed rating).

      In other words a big upgrade with a low speed figure implies a horse can quicken off a steady gallop (useful to know for betting purposes) whereas a big upgrade off a big speed fugue implies a very good horse.

      Hope that makes sense, and helps.

      Matt

      Reply

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