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Met Day – How The Handicappers Saw It

Sun Met Day - Merit Rating Final Analysis

In terms of their new policy of publishing transparent reports of their feature race handicapping analysis, the National Horseracing Authority has issued the undermentioned report following Met day.

The Sun Met

Following careful analysis by Handicappers Lennon Maharaj, Matthew Lips and Vee Moodley, RAINBOW BRIDGE has seen an increase in his merit rating from 119 to 124 following his triumph in the Grade 1 Sun Met at Kenilworth on Saturday 26 January.

It was unanimously agreed amongst the handicapping panel that the correct line horse to use as a means of rating the Sun Met was 4th placed UNDERCOVER AGENT.  While he was trying the distance of 2 000m for the first time, it was noted that UNDERCOVER AGENT and 5th placed LEGAL EAGLE finished virtually alongside each other for the third time in succession, having done so too in the Green Point Stakes and later in the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate.   This remarkable consistency shown by both horses at the highest level led to the strong conclusion that UNDERCOVER AGENT would not have run below his best in the Sun Met and that he is therefore a logical choice of line horse.

Thus, RAINBOW BRIDGE is now rated 124, while runner-up DO IT AGAIN (who was second last at the 400m mark) remains a 125 despite this defeat, based on his impressive Queen’s Plate win.  HEAD HONCHO, who made a brave attempt to win the Met with pillar-to-post tactics, is now rated 122, up from his pre-Met rating of 114.  He has clearly more than confirmed the promise he showed when a runaway winner of the Gr 2 Premier Trophy in December.  In rating HEAD HONCHO 122, the handicappers took into account that he had over-raced for much of the 2 000m distance and that he had hung out visibly on the bend, so it is believed to have been a run full of merit and worthy of a 122 rating, LEGAL EAGLE’s rating has been dropped from 121 to 120, which is his season’s best mark, achieved when winning the Green Point Stakes.  In other changes, TAP O’NOTH’s rating drops from 112 to 110, 2018 Sun Met winner OH SUSANNA’s rating has been trimmed from 121 to 119, and HAT PUNTANO drops to 106 from 109.

Betting World Cape Flying Championship

KASIMIR’s rating was upped from 111 to 117 after he comfortably landed the day’s first Grade 1 event, the Cape Flying Championship over 1000m.  Here, 5th placed TRIP TO HEAVEN was used as the line horse.  TRIP TO HEAVEN has consistently shown a similar level of form in major sprint races all around South Africa for a number of years, and it is reasonable to believe that he once again ran his usual race here.

KASIMIR has been clearly progressive in Cape Town this season and was able to win despite meeting several horses on less favourable weight terms than in several recent encounters.  This was certainly a career-best effort, and a six pound raise in his rating reflects that.   Runner-up BOLD RESPECT, who was comfortably beaten by KASIMIR again despite meeting that rival on 6.5 kgs better terms for a 2.75 lengths beating in the Gr 2 Merchants at Kenilworth last November, has been dropped from 118 to 116 to have him rated below KASIMIR.

Third placed SEARCH PARTY goes up from 106 to 112, while 4th finisher PACIFIC TRADER also goes to 112 from a pre-race mark of 110.   In other changes, ATTENBOROUGH was dropped from 112 to 110, 2018 Cape Flying Championship winner SERGEANT HARDY drops from 115 to 112 on the back of numerous below-par efforts, DUTCH PHILP was trimmed from 107 to 106, and ROCKY VALLEY goes to 99 from 101.

GBets Cape Derby

ATYAAB saw his rating climb from 92 to 109 after he won the GBets Cape Derby.   Here, the Handicappers were of the opinion that 3rd placed HERODOTUS would not have run worse than when he finished 4th in the Gr 2 Concord Cup won by ONE WORLD last November and used that as a key to rate the Derby.  In rating the Derby this way, 5th placed HELEN’S IDEAL runs to the same level of 98 that she achieved when she finished 7th in the Cape Fillies Guineas behind FRONT AND CENTRE in December.  There is thus a very neat correlation between the form behind top colt ONE WORLD and top filly FRONT AND CENTRE, and ATYAAB is clearly a progressive colt whose rating is befitting of a Grade 1 winner.

Derby runner-up CHARLES was raised from a rating of 94 to 108, while line horse HERODOTUS now has a rating of 105, which is reflective of his ability and is not subject to the Handicapping guidelines which prevented his rating from being increased to what he actually achieved in the Concord Cup.   Derby 4th BUNKER HUNT has had his rating upped from 93 to 104.  The only horse whose rating dropped as a result of the Derby is PERPETUAL FLAME, who goes from 84 to 80.

Bidvest Majorca Stakes

CLOUDS UNFOLD was raised from a rating of 109 to 115 after she reversed Cape Fillies Guineas form with hitherto unbeaten FRONT AND CENTRE by winning the Bidvest Majorca Stakes.  Here, the Handicappers were of the unanimous opinion that 4th placed FRESNAYE should be used as the line horse to assess the race, having also finished 4th in the Grade 1 Paddock Stakes at her previous start three weeks earlier.   In that race FRESNAYE was also beaten by LADY IN BLACK, who beat the line horse again in the Majorca Stakes by finishing 2nd.  LADY IN  BLACK’s rating remains unchanged on 117.

3rd placed FRONT AND CENTRE has had her rating upped from 110 to 112 .  In other changes, last year’s Majorca Stakes winner SNOWDANCE was dropped from 114 to 112, and FIORELLA drops from 106 to 104.

CTS 1200 and CTS 1600

In conclusion, it is noted that the Handicappers’ assessment was vindicated in both of the day’s other R5 million races when the top rated horse won each of the CTS sales events, CIRILLO (rated 111) in the 1200m race and ONE WORLD (rated 117) in the 1600m event, where he and runner-up TWIST OF FATE (rated 115) confirmed their ratings perfectly.  These horses thus confirmed the form they had shown throughout the Cape summer racing season.

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9 comments on “Met Day – How The Handicappers Saw It

  1. Jay August says:

    I spoken enough about the merits or demerits of line-horses before so will not add to that debate. I do not agree with the Met assessment but it is pretty much in line with proponents of line horse theory. I cannot fault the official handicapper for consistency.

    Karel’s earlier comments and which I assume will appear in the Digest are that the race was run at a false pace. That was fairly obvious from comparing the time of the race with the Derby and the manner in which the pacemaker managed to hold on until the last 150m, as well as the close proximity of a number of horses which are much lower in rating.

    They do not mention Doublemint or Kampala Campari, but if you extend their ratings down to the last horse then those two have run 14 and 12 half kilos better than their pre-race ratings. These two horses have remained on the same rating despite finishing only 4 lengths back. That in itself makes a mockery of the final ratings for the first 6.

    I feel really sorry for the connections of Head Honcho. He is now burdened with a massive penalty while Doublemint and Kampala Campari are not. The latter two have run 5 half-kilos worse than him in the Met yet if they meet in a race in future will be receiving +15 half-kilos from him.

  2. Tony Mincione says:

    1. Head Honcho (114) goes up 8 even though he looks like his proximity to the winner and runner up comes from the fact that he made the pace and they gave him more than a 10 L lead makes me worried we will never see him actually run 122, so it’s a brave call.

    2. Both Undercover Agent and Legal Eagle are really great milers, so to bank on them running their best ratings in the Met is another red flag.

    3. The same goes for Tap O’ Noth as above, and additionally Head Honcho’s 122 has horses 10L behind running their career bests (so a line), is also worrying.

    4. Doublemint finds itself in the same boat as African Night \ Sky last year, improving (on new ratings) 14 points and only running 6th. If the Snaiths take the same path, they could get their (technically 118) charge weighted off 104…7kgs better off….again.

  3. Brian says:

    Is that the only area of transparency, Mr Moodley? I suggest its selective and as a previous handicapper, that’s where it ends.

  4. A12 says:

    DIA is the top MR’ed horse in the country by 1 point…. but interested to see how the Sporting Post Score Card (racing formula) scores up the top horses after this past weekend ( and basically the end of the Cape season)??? – Mr Editor what’s your best horse for the season? (should be very close)

  5. A1201 says:

    Thx Mr Edt.

  6. karel says:

    Handicappers write:
    “In conclusion, it is noted that the Handicappers’ assessment was vindicated in both of the day’s other R5 million races when the top rated horse won each of the CTS sales events, CIRILLO (rated 111) in the 1200m race and ONE WORLD (rated 117) in the 1600m event, where he and runner-up TWIST OF FATE (rated 115) confirmed their ratings perfectly. These horses thus confirmed the form they had shown throughout the Cape summer racing season.”

    I’d dearly like to know what happened to the ratings of the third and fourth in the CTS Mile, Vardi (MR 88 going into the race) and Skye Lane (MR 81 pre-race).
    Vardi must have gone to well over 100!

  7. Jay August says:

    Karel, Vardy is at 98 and Skye Lane at 91 according to the updated ratings.

    1. karel says:

      Vardy (now 98) beaten 3.75 and 2.25 over a mile at level weights – if a length equals a kilo, then they couldn’t have had One World at 117 and Twist Of Fate 115 as they claim?
      Or am I making an error?

  8. Jay August says:

    Karel. you have to read between the lines on that. They are not saying that OW and TOF ran their ratings (at least I they are not), merely that they believe the prior relative ratings were confirmed by them finishing first and second. Horses never run their exact ratings race after race even when they win. By inference from the rating of Vardy they must have rated OWs win at around 101-102, implying he did not need to run to his best rating to win. I know there are restrictions on how much a horses rating can go up or down in one race so there may also be an element of that in here and which I am not accounting for. Unless they clarify it exactly, which they have not, you can only infer they have rated the race at lower than OW is capable of.

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