With the 2020 Flat Season being delayed due to the pandemic Coronavirus and the resumption schedule yet to be fully confirmed at the time of writing, it poses a tricky question regarding what topics to focus on for this month’s piece.
With that in mind I felt it would be useful to compile a mini series of angles and strategies that may prove useful as the racing world adjusts itself to competing behind closed doors and with an adjusted line-up of races etc.
First up is one regarding a relatively new kid on the block, Archie Watson, who started out on his training career in his own right in 2016 and has quickly established himself as an emerging force in the training ranks.
One area that he has already shown he is very adept at is readying one first time out on the All-Weather as the following table depicts.
Debut run on the All-Weather
Each year since he started out training has seen a steady increase in Strike Rate and the yard was 3 from 8 in 2020 until the racing was brought to a halt.
It is being muted that the All-Weather tracks may be playing a pivotal role once the equine action resumes so it could well pay to keep a close eye on runners from the Archie Watson stable that are making their debut in the coming months.
With specific plans still to be confirmed regarding the resumption of GB racing the initial programme of race day formats have been outlined in recent days.
These indicate that the initial 7 days will involve 13 meetings in total with 7 in the South, 4 in the North and 2 in the Midlands.
The plans included provision for 104 races made up of 75 handicaps, 12 two-year-old races, 17 maiden or novice races for 3yo’s or over and 8 races for each meeting.
There is a good chance that Newcastle will be involved as one of the Northern tracks and given that it has the only one mile all-weather floodlight straight course in the world we thought we would take a closer look to see if there are any traits that we may be able to take advantage of.
This galloping track switched from turf to all-weather during the winter of 2015/16 and is seen by trainers and jockeys as a fair and safe racing surface.
One interesting aspect about the sprint races (5-6 furlongs) that have taken place since the switch to the Tapeta surface is how well those that have made the running have fared:-
The early leaders have won at a strike rate (14.29%) of close to double that of those runners that had to make up ground to emerge as the winner.
If we take that one stage further and only focus on handicap races, which we saw earlier are likely to feature heavily on the resumption schedule, the figures look even more impressive:-
Of course trying to determine the likely leader pre-race can sometimes be tricky but a quick scan of the most recent 3 or 4 runs often provides some decent hints as to the run styles of the individual runners in a race.
One solid source is the racecards that can be found on the geegeez website and if you want to take a closer look at this and indeed numerous other excellent features they have a special trial offer running at the moment which can be found here.
One of the other tracks that appear likely to be involved in the restart meetings is Lingfield Park.
Situated in the heart of a 450-acre estate in Surrey the racecourse was opened in 1890 by the Prince of Wales, and although initially a National Hunt track it was also allowed to operate as a flat racing venue in 1894.
The first ever Derby Trial Stakes was run at Lingfield in 1932 and was quickly followed by the first Oaks Trial with both still featuring annually as one of their most prestigious fixtures in our racing calendar. Unfortunately this year’s renewals have had to be shelved due to the virus outbreak impact on the racing schedule.
The All-Weather track is as follows:-
Given its sharp and turning nature you would expect it to suit the nippy fast starting types, so how do the pace figures stack up for the races run over the shorter distances?
We will once again turn to the Pace tool on the excellent geegeez website.
It is clear in a similar manner to the earlier Newcastle stats that if we can identify the early leaders in the 5-7 furlong races, especially handicaps, it should bring rewards.
Early Season Handicaps
This time around things will be tricky as until a few runners from each of the stables have run we won’t really know who has managed to keep their string in good order and who will need a little time after the downtime period.
With the Flat season likely to be delayed by at least 2 months and the BHA already making it clear that handicaps are going to feature highly in the early resumption period we thought that looking back over those race types may offer a few clues.
We have focussed on the last 5 years and given the revised time lines for this campaign we have covered a broader period of April through to June. Hopefully this will provide a decent overhang and could be relevant to at least the first couple of months this time around.
The following quartet has performed well in flat turf handicaps since 2015:-
If the past is any guide then keeping close tabs on the above yards at the early stages of the revised flat turf season could bring some rewards.
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