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Sunday, 4 March 2012

Ratings and "spikes"

The 439th edition of the Wayward Lad blog.

No selections yesterday altho’ I did give a good word for convincing Kelso winner MASTER OF THE HALL. And I was also right about FAIR ALONG – he’s now run 19 times between 1st Jan and 30th June and not won, whereas he’s won 11 times from 23 races in the other half of the year; he had an SP of 7/2 yesterday too.

Despite there being meetings today at Sedgefield and Huntingdon, I’m not interested in looking for a winner today. I’ve been looking at the Festival races to see if there is any value that I can pass on to those who have donated to the blog and received a copy of my Festival Bulletin, and also because on Tuesday I’m attending a Preview Night arranged by Corals (the bookmakers) in London. I want to make sure that I make the most of the evening, and a bit of swatting-up won’t go amiss.

Last night, I caught the tail-end of a discussion about the Ryanair and the various chances of the expected entrants, and one particular comment grabbed my attention. That was that Cheltenham is ideal for Medermit, a track where Medermit has run 7 times and is yet to win. In my opinion, Medermit is one of the most consistent chasers about running between 156-158 virtually every time he races. Even at Cheltenham, he’s recorded 158 (on my ratings) but with comments like “not going pace of winner” and “never going pace to get into contention” or “held towards finish” there is something about the track that does not suit him like it does at places like Sandown, Ascot or Exeter. If I knew what it was then I’d be a better man than Medermit’s trainer Alan King. He did equal his best chase rating of 158 (in my book) when 2nd in his last run at Cheltenham on a line thru’ the horse that beat him – Quantitativeeasing – who (in my opinion) only equalled his rating when 2nd in the Paddy Power. That race (the Paddy Power) I rated thru’ Divers at 144, which gave Quantitativeeasing a rating of 148. One thing I don’t do when rating horseracing is automatically raise a horses rating by 7lb when it wins. I find that Racing Post Ratings does this a lot and, while a horse will improve with experience and maturity (ie strengthening-up) once it has reached its peak, there is little likelihood of improving on that except in perfect conditions for that horse. In my opinion, Medermit has a peak of 160 (achieved as a hurdler), Quantitativeeasing a peak of 148; Riverside Theatre a peak of 161.

Looking at other chasers, I have Long Run at a peak of 172 and he’s not improved on that since he won the King George at Kempton in January last year. That puts him within striking distance of a number of chasers who have potential for matching that rating and on that basis I will be opposing him in the Gold Cup whether Kauto Star runs in the race or not.

There are some occasions when a horse can hit a ratings “spike” and perform well in-excess of his previous norm; for instance when Chief Dan George won the William Hill H’cap at the 2010 Festival when he ran to about 12lb above his norm. However, he had bettered that rating as a hurdler when he won at Aintree in 2007, and he probably would have won at the Festival that year had he not pulled a muscle on his way to the start. So, the potential was there. What you have to do as a punter is identify these spikes and understand them, as if you don’t it can seriously undermine any ratings system that you employ.

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