Monday, April 23, 2018

Once more unto the crease

Take Two.  Having failed to have our first runner of the new (turf) season last week when Das Kapital was eliminated from the Wood Ditton (which wasn't listed as a possibility to be divided, Brian, because it was too valuable), we will now have another go at getting under way tomorrow when the same horse runs at Yarmouth.  I'm really looking forward to that (well, sort of).  A large part of why I'm looking forward to it is because any horse's debut is exciting.  Could be promising (ie very exciting); could be disappointing (ie crushingly deflating).  We'll find out tomorrow.  And I might be re-united with my crash helmet, which I left there at the last meeting (in October) and which either might or might not be somewhere to be found there.  That's exciting too, albeit in a different and lesser way.

The drawback, of course, is that not having runners is comfortable.  You don't have the great excitement, but you don't have the crushing disappointment either.  (Well, you do, because things still go wrong in training, but you just receive reality checks less frequently when you're not racing the horses).  So let's see what the next few days will bring, with Das Kapital set to run at Yarmouth tomorrow; Kryptos entered for his first race of the year at Leicester on Saturday; Hope Is High about to be entered for her first race of the year at Salisbury on Monday; ditto Sussex Girl at Brighton on Tuesday; and Roy set to return to the turf (and to his favourite course) at Brighton on Wednesday.  And White Valiant set to go to Fontwell the following week for his first run since September.  Let's hope that the excitement outscores the disappointment, six-nil.

As ever, I should add, we shall hope for the best and expect nothing.  I certainly won't be expecting victory tomorrow.  This isn't a tipping column, but there's no harm in saying that I would be pleasantly stunned were Das Kapital to win tomorrow.  He'll be doing his best, of course, and he's a fit horse and a very nice one too - but I would be very surprised not merely if he were to beat the favourite Without Parole, but if any of the horses in the race could beat Without Parole.  That son of Frankel,incidentally, is a previous winner so we wouldn't have met him in previous seasons because the race would have been a maiden rather than a novices' race, but that's by the by.

I believe that some trainers have been getting hot under the collar about most maiden races becoming novices' races, but I can't see what all the fuss is about.  Without Parole is the only one of tomorrow's runners who wouldn't have been eligible had the race been a maiden race; and even without him we would still have been facing some daunting rivals, headed by Ostillo who has finished second in each of his three starts to date, is rated 84 and is a New Approach half-brother to a Group One winner.  We're forecast to go off at 80/1 tomorrow.  Without Parole is forecast to start at 4/9.  Obviously we'd be shorter if he came out, but we'd still be 50/1.

And, really, is there that much difference between being a 50/1 shot in a 10-runner race and an 80/1 shot in an 11-runner race?  It's no different to starting out over hurdles.  If your horse is ready to run, you just run him in a race for inexperienced horses; and you don't worry at all whether it's a maiden hurdle or a novices' hurdle, which consists mostly of maidens with a small amount of previous winners thrown in, giving weight to the maidens.  It's just not an issue.  When you start racing your horse, you do so in the hope that he might run maybe 40 or 50 times.  So if his chances of winning on debut are even less and slightly less than they might otherwise have been, does that really matter?  It's Test cricket, not one-over stuff.  You don't have to hit a six in the first over.  It's how you last and what score you eventually end up with that matters.  (Although obviously on the very rare occasions when you do whack the first ball out of the park, it's fair dinkum terrific!).


Matthew Anshaw said...

Good luck tonight.

One of the things I was looking forward to with races being novices rather than maidens was the prospect that we would see 2yo careers like that of Provideo and Spindrifter.

This is what I was told would be the benefit.

thomas said...

a little bit of the "aussie' colloquialism in the last sentence john ....good to see a little bit has still stayed with tommy PS best of luck with your team this season

John Berry said...

Cheers, Matthew, Thomas. Yes, I think that the thing with the novices' races, Matthew, is that it gives more opportunities for horses who win first or second time out, particularly first time out. Just like having novices' hurdles instead of just maiden hurdles, which works well. You wouldn't see a horse putting together a string of novice wins in Provideo, Timeless Times or Spindrifter style because one can't be a novice for too long - they would have to be racing in conditions races to do that. There are fewer conditions races than there used to be (which was a factor in two-year-olds who had won first time out having so few suitable opportunities for their second race) but there are still some. I was talking to Bill O'Gorman about this a few years ago and he observed that people who said that it would be impossible to do a Timeless Times or a Provideo nowadays because there aren't enough conditions races are wrong; he said that there still are enough conditions races, it is just that there are fewer of them, and such a horse would need to win a large percentage of them to rack up such a huge total of wins at two.