In the third of an occasional series of updates on Peter May's juvenile ratings, which are published for Gold subscribers in the racecard, we look at the movers and shakers ahead of Newmarket's Future Champions Weekend, featuring six Pattern contests for two-year-olds.
Clear top of the pile, and one of only two horses to break the 100 barrier, is Tom Dascombe's Spud, on 106. Although the son of Fast Company has yet to race above Class 4, he demolished a field of novice runners by fifteen lengths at Chester on the latest of his two starts to date. That was on soft ground over a mile, and it will be very interesting to see where he goes next: he's not entered this weekend at HQ.
Of the more familiar names, it is the filly Clemmie who tops the female rankings. Her 100 figure, recorded when running away at the end of the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes, is rock solid, and she's a worthy ante post favourite for the 1000 Guineas, notwithstanding the full sister to Churchill still has stamina to prove.
Already we can see the difficulties in using ratings to assess relative ability: Spud's 106 was recorded in a relatively low grade race over a mile on soft ground; Clemmie's 100 was notched in a Group 1 over six furlongs on goodish ground. If the pair were to meet, which would you favour? On known form, Clemmie. On numbers, Spud. But it would depend on the situation: six furlongs on quick ground, it would be very hard to oppose the filly; a mile on soft and the pendulum swings towards the colt.
It should also be said - and this is another key point when looking at juvenile figures - Spud, with just two runs to his name, should be more capable of stepping forward on what he's achieved so far when compared with Clemmie, who has raced five times. Her figures are consistently progressive: 57, 72, 86, 92, 100 and there is no reason to believe she won't go on again in the early part of next season. Spud has gone from 84 to 106, the big differential attributable to a change in conditions as much as the benefit of that first run.
Moving on from the current king and queen of the numbers, there are two dozen horses with a rating in the 90s. Those who we might see this weekend include Sound And Silence (92, Cornwallis Stakes), Gavota (90, Oh So Sharp Stakes), Nyaleti (94, Fillies' Mile), Expert Eye (91, Dewhurst Stakes), Fleet Review (92, Dewhurst Stakes), Nebo (92, Dewhurst Stakes), and Threeandfourpence (91, Dewhurst Stakes).
Again, these figures are about form in the book. They do not project forward. So, for example, in Friday's Oh So Sharp Stakes, Aidan O'Brien runs a filly called I Can Fly. Her rating is not near the top of the pile, but the fact she won on debut for O'Brien marks her out as potentially useful. This season, the master of Ballydoyle has run 65 juveniles, only six of which won first time. They comprise smart types like September, Seahenge, Delano Roosevelt and Saxon Warrior, all of which have placed in Group 2 company at least. The other pair, Family Tree and I Can Fly, have yet to race since their debut wins. My point? It's not just about the numbers.
The top ten (plus ties) as things stand looks like this:
|SANDS OF MALI||99|
|U S NAVY FLAG||97|
Best at 5f/6f
The pick of the sprint figures thus far are below:
*[GS6] = Good to soft, 6 furlongs
|SANDS OF MALI (FR)||99[GD6]|
|U S NAVY FLAG (USA)||97[GS6]|
|JAMES GARFIELD (IRE)||96[GD6]|
|DIFFERENT LEAGUE (FR)||95[GS6]|
Best at 7f+
The top seven furlong-plus performers have been:
|DARK ACCLAIM (IRE)||95[SF7]|
|JULIET CAPULET (IRE)||94[GS7]|
|SIRJACK THOMAS (IRE)||93[HY7]|
|THE PENTAGON (IRE)||93[GF7]|
As you can see from the different constituents of the distance tables, horses are already showing their trip preferences. That can change, of course, with a number in the sprint section yet to race beyond six furlongs. It promises to be a fascinating end to the season, and my final update on Peter's numbers will be after the conclusion of the turf racing in about a month's time. Then we'll be able to crown the seasonal top horses; with many big races to come, not least this weekend, the pecking order looks almost certain to be shuffled once more.