I feel one of the big tools that I’ve learned from a sectional times perspective is the profiling, it’s understanding the profile of a horse. Do they like fast pace, slow pace, are they one pace runners? Are they horses that have multiple sprints in their armor? That’s the key aspect that I like, to first and foremost hone in on from a sectional time’s perspective.
We only recently had a race and we had a situation wherein a major course had all sorts of problems for the first time, and if you’re on pace you couldn’t win. It was discovered that when you’re looking at the sectional times all day, there’s a section between the 400 and the 600 metre mark that was several lengths slower and that had a huge impact on horses hitting the line hard. And that makes a big difference about the way you approach your form in a genuine way, and whether you should or shouldn’t omit a horse based on that run.
How that’s picked up generally is the horses have been timed pretty much straight after each race. The data flows through and gives you a preamble of how that track’s playing.
I love horses that run on speed, but on speed with a caveat. The caveat is understanding the profile of that particular runner because if they go to the lead and they are a one-pace runner, and they go at a moderate tempo, most of those horses get beat. Because what will happen is when they get to a sprinting stage which usually takes place anywhere between the 800 and the 400 metre mark, what happens then, is those one-pace runners that just sort of cruise at one particular speed, if they don’t have enough break in the field, they’ll usually get run down because they don’t have a sprint; they don’t have gears.
If a backmarker has fallen six lengths off the speed, they can still win if there’s good speed, but if it’s a big field and the backmarkers are 15 lengths off the speed, well then they virtually have no change. We typically see a horse and think, but he was ninth in running so that means he was a backmarker but he might have only been 5 lengths off the speed. Well, that’s a winning position still, if there’s good speed. That’s probably a great spot to be! But if you’re a backmarker and you’re running ninth of 12 horses, and you’re 14 lengths off the speed well then you have no hope.
Even if it’s a cracking pace, you’re too far back. Very few horses make it that far back and they’re probably the worst betting medium. So the definition of backmarker really needs to have, it needs to be bracketed with a real serious understanding of what that terminology means. Backmarker in which respect? How many lengths from the lead pace are they at the 800m? That’s what I call a backmarker.
Many people fall into that trap because when you look at the set of ratings, the ratings don’t always typically give us clarity in that area and I’ve always felt that that’s probably one of the areas where you need that assistance from sectional times to rate a runner.
You need that assistance from sectional times to give you clarity about a horse’s true capability over a distance.
What happens is, the softer the data late, the less likelihood are they of running the distance, but also the market place sometimes thinks “He was so emphatic over 1200 that he won by three lengths. He should easily get for the 1400.”
And yet, what probably they may not have taken into consideration is that horse is just a supreme 1200 metre horse and when you extend that to 1400, it doesn’t have the data to match that because to make a runner go another 200 metres when they’ve been racing in a particular speed, it’s very difficult to do that.
I’m always looking for acceleration. I love a horse who has what’s called the hidden fractions. So we can clearly articulate their sprint capabilities. I love it when it see it mid race as much as I love it when I see it late. When I see it mid race, a huge burst of speed, whether it’s a span of 200, 400, or 600 metres, what it shows me how forward and how well that horse is traveling. There are so many great opportunities when you can identify that in a runner.
There’s no data that the weight does have an impact on the acceleration of horses. It’s like when they go from 55 or 56 kilos and all of a sudden they gotta carry 58 or 59 kilos, it does impact the sprint. Of course it’s dependent on the distance and dependent on other qualifications. When horses are up high in the weight, 58 or 59, I notice that it impacts their speed and it’s very important that they’re not over exerted early. Not so much over 1100 metres, but once we start getting up to 1200 plus range, it does play a role.