Times and in particular 600m sectionals can be misleading when taken out of context.
Slow times can be attributed to lack of ability. However, certain circumstances have immense bearing on time, including:
• Race tempo – Some races are tactical affairs, where leaders jam on the brakes to gain advantage by making the race a sit-sprint affair.
Naturally this means a slow overall time, and often results in the placegetters being overvalued by the market at their next or subsequent starts.
The time for the last 600m will look quick, but it is entitled to, as most horses with midweek or Saturday ability can run home sub 34 secs under those conditions.
• Wind – A factor vastly underestimated or totally misunderstood by the average punter.
Most tracks, especially over summer, have defined wind patterns that change as the difference in temperature between sea and land changes throughout the day.
Ascot is a great example, where early races can be seen to have run quicker times than those later in the day, and they do!
There is a reason for this: ‘The Fremantle Doctor’ as it is known arrives in the afternoon from the west/south west up to 25 knots.
At Belmont they are therefore running straight into it down the back approaching the turn, and it’s very similar at Ascot, so there is a distinct disadvantage to on-pacers.
Learn about winds and learn every track and how those winds affect each distance on the day.
Monitor the conditions constantly throughout the day (as we always to), as they can change direction and speed quite drastically.