The recent unsuccesful appeal by trainer Mike de Kock for a higher merit rating for debut winner Pietro Mascagni has evoked some puzzlement amongst the connections. We asked an expert for his opinion.
Whilst every Appeal Board is entitled to their own opinion, it is quite frankly beyond me how they could overrule the De Kock appeal and which I will amplify on, writes Robert Bloomberg.
The guidelines ‘cap’ a 3yo Maiden winner in a major centre at an MR78, but that is a nett not a gross rating. The winner and subject of the appeal, Pietro Mascagni, won on 31 October 2017 over 1160m which afforded him a WFA allowance of 11lbs. Accordingly, he had a maximum allowable “cap” of MR89 gross (78 + 11).
The 4th horse, King of the Delta, which I believe should have been used as the line horse, had a rating of MR77.
He was beaten by 9L (18lbs). If you use him solely as the criteria, then you have the winner running to a 95. Even if you use him off his subsequently reduced rating of 71, he runs to an 89. Whichever way you look at the race, he should have been rated either an 89 in my opinion, or an 88 as internationally renowned handicapper Mike Wanklin and handicapping expert, Tony Mincione, both believe. The 2nd horse, Square the Circle and 3rd placed, Star of Joburg, are much better than the handicappers believe.
King Of Delta ran again on Saturday conclusively proving the incorrect decision of the handicappers and the panel. I say this because he now raced off his adjusted rating of 71 and ran 2nd beaten 2.1L by a very good debutante, Dhabyaan, also trained by De Kock with the 3rd horse beaten 5.4L. Due to the folly of not using him as the line horse when Pietro Mascagni won, they should only have made Dhabyaan a 76 instead of an 82 which he should be.
However, the handicappers stunningly, promptly upped King of the Delta to a 74 (77-71-74 in 12 days) on his run to Yamoto 4 runs ago on the 5th September (I’m not sure how you can do that, but anyway) and made Dhabyaan an 81. The handicappers know full well that Dhabyaan is no 76 and had to find a way out to raise him, but in so doing have compounded their error and contradicted their rating of Pietro Mascagni and made the appeal panel look like proper Charlie’s.
I ask you this – if Dhabyaan is an MR81 having beaten King of the Delta by just over 2L, what should Pietro Mascagni be having beaten the same horse by 9L?
Not an MR79 I can promise you that! He is unbelievably rated 2lbs inferior to his fellow inmate! In simple mathematical terms, Pietro Mascagni ran to a 95 (77 + 18). He beat King of the Delta by 7L (14lbs) further than Dhabyaan, now an official MR81. Pietro Mascagni should therefore be rated 14lbs superior (81 + 14 = 95) which is what he ran to. Having said that, clearly in reality there cannot be that much between them in true ability, but then Dhabyaan is obviously much better than his rating given. To those that punt, I would strongly suggest you follow Pietro Mascagni next time you see him in a handicap off a 79 rating (and Dhabyaan as well off an 81 for that matter). I know a few appeal panel members who will be wagering the rent money!
Justin Vermaak who sat on the appeal, has openly stated that De Kock had “hidden agendas.” Is that seriously what you call a trainer who is asking for a higher rating – not lower – based purely on what the horse achieved and should actually be rating wise – merely because he wanted run the horse in the Dingaans as that he is how highly he rates him?
Perhaps it’s actually members of the appeal panel that should be asked whether they in fact are the ones with “hidden agendas!”
Taking a step back for a moment, I had a few weeks ago sat on an appeal brought by trainer Eric Sands. The handicappers had made the horse, The Sun Also Rises, an MR83 on one run even though he had twice run to a 72. We erred on the side of caution and went 77 even though we believed him to be a 72 as we did not want to do the opposite to what the handicappers had done by giving him his lowest rating as opposed to them rating him on his highest rating. The horse ran on Thursday finishing 2nd and ran to a 72 again. After the Sands appeal and when asked by Arnold Hyde who convened the hearing whether we should issue a press release and whether I could assist in the drafting thereof, I stated that I did not believe it necessary as firstly these matters were not of real interest and with respect, understanding to the majority of the public and secondly that there was no need to embarrass the handicappers with press releases relating to any merit rating appeals. The panel which included Vermaak concurred with my sentiments.
However, the NHA couldn’t wait to send out a disingenuous and opportunistic press release after overruling the De Kock appeal using this as a means to falsely and wrongly criticise the guidelines to justify their, in my opinion, flawed and deplorable decision.
The appeal panel has the winner running to a 68 nett (79 – 11). What has that crazy rating have to do with the guidelines I ask you with tears in my eyes!
The press release also came across as a futile attempt to embarrass de Kock and to laud the handicappers for their unfortunate decision brought about by the “terrible” guidelines that were unfairly handcuffing them. Believe me, I know full well who was behind the drafting/wording of that press release – and so does he – and it wasn’t Arnold Hyde.