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Hunting Tower – He Could Run

Andrew Bon on an 'Iron Hoss'

Remember the chestnut flyer, Hunting Tower?

2007 Gr1 Vodacom Durban July

Hunting Tower

There are very few horses that exhibit his kind of mettle.

So unobtrusive and so unimposing, yet totally efficient, courageous and brave.

Enjoys his story, with two incredible careers both in South Africa and in Dubai.

It’s a story that will be told for many years to come. Click here to watch the tribute.

Thanks to Andrew Bon!

Have Your Say

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40 comments on “Hunting Tower – He Could Run

  1. Cameron James says:

    This was a top top horse. Remember Garth Puller saying in the parade ring this horse will win. “He had that look in his eyes” He was not given due credit but he beat horses that went onto win group1s in Dubai.

    Also remember landing a decent double with Argonaut on July day if memory serves me correctly with Hunting Tower.

    Always wondered why never ran in the Derby to complete the triple crown.

  2. DJ says:

    Hi Cameron
    I’m a newcomer as such to racing
    Pls can u advisewhich horses if possible won the triple crown and Durban July
    Thank you

  3. Cameron James says:

    Hi DJ

    No colt or gelding did that however there was a certain Igugu who completed the triple tiara and went onto win the July.

    Reason i asked why didn’t he run in the Derby was he looked a horse who would love the distance of the Derby. He was always low flying at them late.

    Hope that helps….

  4. Hylton says:

    Thanks to Andrew Bon
    Wish he has some race footage videos of some of the below outstanding horses

    Flaming Rock – amazing feature race record
    Empress Club – best filly to race in SA(even had her own fan club) big winning streak in SA
    Jet Master – best sire in Sa recent history with multiple feature race wins think he had winning run of more than 12 if not mistaken
    Tommy Hotspur – speedball sprinter

    It is hard to find any race footage of these horses and they used to set SA racecourse alight and must rank amongst the best to race in South Africa.

    If available please share with the public or on Bonski YouTube channel.

    Thanks

    1. Editor says:

      Thanks Hylton
      Passed on to Bonski Beat

  5. DJ says:

    @Cameron
    Thank you
    Reason i queried, I feel triple crown/tiara winners of recent past have run sub par races in subsequent July, a certain Abishiri and Louis The King
    May I ask
    Do u think the July comes to soon after those exertions on such quality horses?

  6. Cameron James says:

    Hi DJ

    I agree with your sentiments DJ. The 3 year old series in Gauteng takes alot out of these horses in a short period of time and just shows you why Anthony Delpech said Igugu was the best filly he has ever ridden. She had even won the fillies equivalant of the Daily News prior to her July victory.

    In my honest yet respectful opinion the only Triple Crown winner that could have won the July to date has to be Horse Chestnut. Im afraid to say Abashiri and Louis the King werent from what Id call vintage three year old crops.

    Again the person i think who can answer your question with more fact would be a guy called Jay August. He is quite good with statistics from previous posts I’ve read from him. Hope he catches onto this thread.

    Take care.

    CJ

    1. Editor says:

      Sent on to Jay

  7. Cameron James says:

    Thanks Mr Editor.

  8. DJ says:

    Thank u CJ
    Valid points and info
    Stay safe
    Tc

  9. Jay August says:

    Cameron and DJ, there is no doubt the TC on the Highveld is taxing for a three year old which would most likely prep for a July and then run in the July. So, a minimum of five races in five months plus preps into the TC.

    That is a tough ask of any horse no matter what their ability or durability. And they would most likely be running against fresher Cape challengers and older Grade 1 horses for the first time. Only nine three-year-olds have won the July in the last twenty years.

    In many ways the July represents a similar task for a HIghveld TC winner to that posed by the Travers for a US TC winner. In 2015 American Pharoah suffered his only defeat at three in this race, his fifth race in four months including the TC.

    Affirmed also lost the Travers, albeit by DQ, his fifth start including the TC. Seattle Slew lost the Swaps, his first start after the TC and his only defeat at three. Secretariat lost the Whitney, his fifth start in sequence, and second after the TC. Gallant Fox lost the Travers in 1930, his sixth start in sequence, and also his only loss at three.

    It is safe to say none of our male Highveld TC winners were anywhere near the class of these great American TC winners and yet even for them the fourth to sixth race in a sequence including the TC proved beyond their reach.

    It would take a seriously good male horse to win the Highveld TC, then prep for the July and win the July. Perhaps Horse Chestnut is the one horse who could have done that. He certainly was far better than any other Highveld TC winner and probably better than just about any horse that ever ran in SA at three.

  10. Donald says:

    Thank you for that analysis Jay , agree with your comments in respect of Horse Chestnut who I regard as the second best horse to have raced in South Africa after the great Sea Cottage.

    Can you please let us have an analysis on what would have been the prospects of Sea Cottage in this respect at three ?

  11. Jay August says:

    Donald, I presume you mean, what would Sea Cottage’s chances have been of winning a TC and July in current format in a theoretical race against similar horses?

    If that is the question then I would have to rate it a lower probability than Horse Chestnut doing the same. Not because I think Sea Cottage was a lesser horse but simply that his style of racing would have posed challenges.

    Horse Chestnut raced handily and was usually in command a long way from home, much like another standout three-year-old, Colorado King. For such horses putting together sequences in pattern races is easier as they run into fewer problems running from the front end of a race. They also force the pace to a point where their competitors get found out quickly.

    Sea Cottage usually ran from the back which even for his greatness sometimes proved a problem. His ability to win was often not based solely on his phenomenal acceleration and ability, but rather an ability to do so off varying pace scenarios and luck in circumventing traffic.

    His Cape Guineas and Metropolitan losses are examples where his phenomenal ability was blunted by his style of racing increasing the probability of problems occuring. His July at three, if one ignores the shooting, could also be blamed on the bump he took in the straight. Similarly, in the 1966 Champion Stakes at four he lost also after being interfered with at the quarter pole.

    Of the truly great three-year-olds to have run in SA possibly only Horse Chestnut and Colorado King would have gone all the way from Highveld TC to July without defeat. I base that opinion purely on their style of racing and both having won at 2400m at three, and not simply on the relative merits of each horse.

    In a head to head race with Horse Chestnut and Colorado King, and any other exceptional three-year-old, where Sea Cottage had a proper pace objective and no traffic problems he may well have prevailed against all of them. He certainly was capable of racing on the front end as he proved in his last two starts which he won by 9 and 5.5 lengths respectively.

    Was Sea Cottage a better horse at four and five than at three – possibly. Would Horse Chestnut have been a better horse at four – possibly? Both Hawaii and Colorado KIng equalled or bettered their South African form in the US at four and five.

    What I have always felt recommends Horse Chestnut at the greatest three-year-old to have run in South Africa (this excludes performances overseas) is that the level of competition in SA in 1999 was higher than it was in the 1960’s when Sea Cottage, Hawaii and Colorado KIng dominated.

    But, such comparisons are always hypothetical as we simply will never know. Actual races serve up all manner of challenge to horses. Putting five or six wins together is hard enough for most horses and doing so at the highest grade even more so.

  12. Cameron James says:

    Totally in agreement with you Jay. More so if you look at the Met Victory, he toyed with horses who would go on to win 3 Julys.

    In both the Classic and Derby there was a line horse in Young Rake who would go on to frank those formlines.

    In the Derby Young Rake moved up fleetingly and the way HC accelerated away from the field was breath taking. Jays spot on, his racing style would have made him superior.

    Also another pointer in my opinion is he always beat Pablo Zeta who in turn was a few lengths superior to the other runners in a race, proves he was a standout of his generation. You didnt get those muddling formlines when you keep getting different results.

    I wonder what Fort Wood would have achieved if he had stayed in Europe and got the blue hen mares. He proved a breed changing stallion in SA.

  13. Donald says:

    Thank you Jay that you took the time for that comprehensive analysis on Sea Cottage/ Horse Chestnut , it is much appreciated !

    Pity about the shooting in ,66 at three and then the interference suffered by Sea Cottage in the straight as especially the shooting will always be a valid excuse for him not winning that July ?

  14. Jay August says:

    Donald and Cameron, I am reminded of a detailed comment I submitted on Horse Chestnut fourteen month ago. If you have not read those then see my five comments appended to the article link below.The second last comment is perhaps the more pertinent one.

    https://www.sportingpost.co.za/2019/01/sa-triple-crown-2019-2/

  15. Seattle Slew says:

    If I’m not mistaken, Sea Cottage won the Cape Derby when it was run over 2400m. Later that season, he stepped down to 1200m at Greyville and beat a number of top sprinters at their own game. His dual knock in the July (bullet and interference) is well documented. I would argue that if ever a horse was equipped to complete the Triple Crown and July, it would be him. It’s impossible to compare across generations, of course, and I wasn’t even born when he retired, but his versatility and weight-carrying ability against top opposition make him the strongest candidate for SA’s greatest.

    A thought on Louis The King – I generally agree that the July, coming after the exertions of the Triple Crown, is a bridge too far. But as it turned out, he had rotten luck in the Daily News 2000 (third, not beaten far, despite not getting a clear run) and he nearly came down in the July, so we’ll never know what could have been. As for his generation being weak or mediocre – it included Legislate, Futura and Captain America (I’m sure I’ve missed out a few other good ones from that crop – Red Ray, perhaps, if I can trust my memory?). Bottom line, I think Louis was a seriously underrated and under-appreciated horse and I was sad to see his racing days cut short as they were.

    @Hylton – with all my moves over the years, I don’t what happened to my old VHS tape with footage of the Empress (Cape Guineas from draw 16, SA Classic, Summer Cup, SA Guineas, Queens Plate and Met from draw 20). If I ever find it and am able to convert it, I will gladly make it available. Not just the best filly, but before she went wrong at the tail end of her career, the best sprinter-miler of any sex that I’ve seen.

  16. Donald says:

    Thanks for that link Jay , I must say that J.C. Ching made you ” sing for your supper ” in that debate in which good points were made by all !

  17. DJ says:

    Thank you to all for such quality insights
    Greatly appreciated

  18. Cameron James says:

    Excellent work Jay with your comments on HC. People should watch the Horse Chestnut tribute/video on YouTube. The more i watch, the more i wonder how good this horse really was!

    He kept on improving from the start of his 3year old campaign to his Derby victory, the margins of victory just got bigger.

    In the year he could have run in the July, El Picha won so there’s definitely a marker there. He destroyed him in the Met.

    Again i’ll say, Fort Wood was a proper stallion.

  19. Jay August says:

    After reading Seattle’s well articulated comments I feel I must clarify one aspect of my opinion on Sea Cottage. My comments on Horse Chestnut are made in relation to the question being asked here and also in so far as they debated JC Lee Ching off his view that Horse Chestnut could not live with Sea Cottage.

    There remains no doubt in my mind that Sea Cottage was the greatest horse to run in South Africa when the scope and drama of his entire career is reviewed. Horse Chestnut (and Colorado King), I think, were more complete as three-year-olds and so strictly comparing their records at three would likely have bested Sea Cottage or run him close at that age.

    But neither of them ran in South Africa after their sophomore year and so neither were able to compete with the turf legacy left by Sea Cottage at four and the August of his fifth year. Colorado King lived up to his reputation in his first twelve starts in the US, but his legacy is unfairly tarnished by the excessive campaigning inflicted on him thereafter.

    Horse Chestnut beyond a demolition of some very ordinary Florida horses never got to show us more and we must therefore rate him solely on what he achieved at three in South Africa. Comparing those nine starts in South Africa to the other greats at a similar stage of their careers is the only way to fully appreciate his brilliance.

    I penned this short tribute to Sea Cottage on my facebook page several months back:

    SEA COTTAGE (1962-1987) Fairthorn – Maritime by Merchant Navy

    No horse has ever captured the imagination of South Africans the way Sea Cottage did. His outstanding brilliance was complemented by high drama and suspense in equal doses. If he was not the best horse to run in South Africa then he was so close that the difference is imperceptible. He was the first equine inducted into the South African Hall of Fame in January 2019.

    He was born on October 14, 1962, at the Birch Brothers Vogel Vlei Stud in the Eastern Cape. He retired to his birthplace to take up stud duty after his racing career ended in September 1967. He lived there or near there until his death in March 1987. The excitement started on December 12, 1964, when he made his debut and did not subside until his last race, his 24th, on August 26, 1967. Those thirty three months of racing set the bar by which all pretenders to his crown must be judged.

    He raced 24 times for 20 wins with 1 third and 3 fourths and earned a record at the time of R118,128. He won his first eight starts in a row and his last seven in a row. He won the 1967 Rothman’s July Handicap (dead-heating with Jollify), 1966 and 1967 Clairwood Winter Handicap, 1966 and 1967 Queens Plate, 1966 South African Guineas, 1966 and 1967 Newbury Stakes, 1966 Cape Derby and 1967 Champion Stakes. He won the latter race by 9 lengths, a margin only ever bested by the subject of a previous post, King’s Pact. He could sprint and he could stay and he won from 1000m to 2400m.

    He was shot in the rump four weeks before contesting the 1966 Rothmans July Handicap. Despite this, and a week off training, he still ran in that race, met traffic trouble and finished fourth. He had blinding acceleration which allowed him to amble at the back and which got him into trouble on the four occasions he did not win. He raced from the back and could unwind astonishing acceleration to snare his opposition, often when all seemed lost. His regular partner Bobbie Sivewright once described riding Sea Cottage as nerve-wracking.

    His owner (his racing career was leased from the Birch Bros.) was also his trainer, the great Sydney Charles Laird. Bobbie Sivewright rode him in all his starts except his second. He was a lightly framed horse who despite being a large eater never carried excess weight. As a result, he required very little training to stay in shape.

    He had the pedigree to be successful at stud tracing his female line to the great foundation mare Drohsky, the dam of the subject of a previous post, Lenin. But such greatness must have fault and that fault was his inability to reproduce himself at stud. He managed to sire several very good sorts with Ocean City (16 wins) the best, but his stud career was a disappointment.

    When he died in March 1987 the bullet that had remained lodged in his rump from June 1966 was extracted and given to the Sivewright family.

    https://www.facebook.com/SouthAfricanRacehorse/posts/143392563706035

  20. Donald says:

    Thanks for that tribute Jay , as you know I regard Sea Cottage as the greatest horse to have raced in S.A. !

    My beach cottage is called ” SEA COTTAGE ” which is proudly inscribed on the main gate to the property !

    I have an interesting story to relate in respect of the shooting of Sea Cottage that happened in 1970 and maybe one day I will email the narrative to the Ed of S.P. who can do what he deems fit with it ?

    1. Editor says:

      Waiting for that , Donald 🙂

  21. Jay August says:

    Donald, I think you need to expedite that anecdote by calling the Ed and having him transcribe!

    And Ed you need to ensure that Sporting Post is regularly archived on http://www.archive.org. I use it often in attempting to retrieve old pages of websites which are no longer in existence or visible to the world. From recollection SP in the old days was never archived beyond the landing page and so many of Karel’s gems are missing – pity!

    Someday in the faraway future someone will be searching for Donald’s anecdote and archive.org will be the only remaining source.

    1. Editor says:

      Good point Jay!
      Transcriptions are so yesterday 🙂
      But waiting on Donald
      Cheers

    2. Editor says:

      Our Tech chief is looking at it

    3. Editor says:

      Jay, our Tech guy says that site automatically archives sites
      So we are fine

  22. Donald says:

    The anecdote is exactly that and unfortunately it is one of those narratives that cannot be cut short and has to be told in full otherwise it will lose context but I will work on it as we all have a little more time on our hands these days and submit to S.P. by email soonest !

  23. Cameron James says:

    Jay, your assessment of Sea Cottage being the best horse ever to run in SA, is it based purely on stats and results or on his performances?

    I never got to see him run, however with HC theres a lot of content on YouTube. From what i could gather on the visuals was HC winning with alot in hand. All his victories were won with consummate ease. Were the performances of SC similar?

    Furthermore from looking at the Fort Wood progeny it is evident they get better as they mature. Although all his victories were devastating already can we assume there was more to come? Frightening thought.

    Ive seen some posts in your last thread 14 months ago, where people questioned horses like Smart Money’s credentials, i will quote below Mr DeKocks assessment of this,

    “His exercise work was spectacular. Even the stable’s best workhorse, top-class Smart Money, was easily eclipsed in a morning gallop by the unraced juvenile.”

    “DeKock decided that if Horse Chestnut were to win his next race, the Grade 1 Cape Argus Guineas at Kenilworth in mid-January 1998, by more than five lengths, he would run him in the J&B Met three weeks later.

    Pundits were amazed. No three-year-old had won the Met in nearly 50 years and trainers no longer nominated classic charges for it. “But none of them had the opportunity of working with this wondrous animal,’’ explains De Kock simply.

    With Marwing looking over his shoulder, Horse Chestnut won the Guineas by 6.75 lengths.”

    Its very sad that injury curtailed this horses’s career as in my opinion and the manner of his victories he was the best horse ever to race in SA.

  24. Jay August says:

    Cameron, I will reply in detail but am busy at the moment and will come back to your question in due course. Quickly though, my opinion is based both on an assessment of merit and the aesthetic impact of each horse to racing in South Africa.

  25. Cameron James says:

    Thanks Jay. Your expertise and passion is very much appreciated.

  26. Jay August says:

    Cameron, some thought on the matter of SC and HC and their respective merit. Rating horses purely on merit (as in ratings) is possible but one must be careful of the many traps that attend these ratings and their calculation.

    Simplistically, handicapping on merit is a calculation based on set criteria. These criteria are usually a combination of weight-for-age allowance, pounds or half-kilos per length, weight differential and identification of a line. To this some add an assessment of time and an assessment of pace. Every one of these criteria has a weakness which can sway the way a final assessment is arrived at.

    For this reason, handicappers usually look for the most conservative way to handicap races as this minimises any long-term error in assessment. One of the biggest errors I have seen over many years in my own handicapping is an over assessment of the effect of weight conceded by one horse to other horses.

    In other words, too high a rating is attached to a performance where a horse concedes weight to another horse. The ratings so achieved are often repeatable only in a similar handicap or weight concession race but not in a fixed weight or weight-for-age race.

    When you compare the career of Sea Cottage and Horse Chestnut, the most obvious problems you have in assessing their relative merit are:

    * Sea Cottage ran to the age five while Horse Chestnut ran in South Africa to age three.

    * Sea Cottage ran in many open handicaps of pattern quality and conceded weight to most while Horse Chestnut never did.

    * Sea Cottage achieved his highest ratings at an age where there was no distorting effect of weight-for-age. WFA is simply an estimation of the likely maturity of all horses in a population over time and no individual horse is ever likely to be the average horse, although the vast majority (~ 70%) of horses approximate the WFA curve.

    * Horse Chestnut achieved his best rating in January of his third year while Sea Cottage achieved his best ratings at the end of his fourth year and the beginning of his fifth year.

    One is, therefore, is faced with comparing the best of Sea Cottage as a mature four and five-year-old with the still maturing Horse Chestnut.

    So how do you then compare these two horses from a merit perspective. The only feasible way is to compare them at a similar age and as Horse Chestnut only ran to the April of his third year, we can only compare him against Sea Cottage at the same age.

    Making that comparison and using my on own subjective ratings indicates that Horse Chestnut was a couple pounds superior to Sea Cottage at that age.

    But there is an unknown factor which makes this assessment purely hypothetical. All ratings each year must by necessity be adjusted to a common median or average level to make them comparable. This median level is usually between 68 pounds and 80 pounds depending on whose ratings you are reviewing. My own ratings are adjusted to a median 72 pounds.

    Ratings, therefore, represent the out performance of an individual horse against that median. It tells us that at 127 pounds, Horse Chestnut was 55 pounds better than the average horse in his year, and the same for Sea Cottage at his rating. People often talk about ratings without having a clue about what is being measured, rated, and ranked. If anybody gives you their rating for a horse, ask them what median level their rating model is based on. If they cannot tell you this simple number, they likely have no basis for making any estimate of rating.

    The question that is almost impossible to answer is – what is/was the average or median level in any given season i.e. has the average level remained constant over the decades, risen, or decreased? With enough data one could arrive at a reasonable estimate but finding all that data to make such an estimate would prove difficult. Often old-timers say that today’s horses are worse than prior era’s but when one inspects their argument you often find that their contention does not stack up with the evidence. Nostalgia is no way to punt and it is no way to rate horses.

    Tony Morris put this succinctly in his 1999 book Champion when he said:

    “Man o’ War’s reputation is the biggest sacred cow in American racing. He regularly wins polls designed to identify America’s greatest champion and it is possible that he achieved the largest margin of superiority over his contemporaries. But it was easier to be dominant in 1920 than it is was in 1948, when Citation won the Triple Crown, and much easier than in 1973 when Secretariat did so. The constant influx of top-quality breeding stock must have had some effect, and the likelihood is that the standard of the top US horses improved by about a pound per decade in the half century between Man o’ War (rated 139) and Secretariat (rated 144).”

  27. Cameron James says:

    Really informative and productive especially your point on a median level srandard.

    When you have some time i for one would love to hear how you handicap horses especially first time out the maiden plates. Your expertise and passion for the game doesn’t go unnoticed on this site.

    Thanks a million Jay. Be safe and take care.

    1. Editor says:

      Thanks Cameron – agreed

  28. Jay August says:

    Cameron, thanks for that. I am busy with a large analysis and review of the juvenile crops in SA for the last 18 years, by season. I will write that up once completed and I will then discuss the question/s you ask. Juvenile racing is the starting foundation of any rating system. Getting that wrong creates massive instability in a rating model thereafter.

  29. Frankie says:

    Frankie Zackey…Cameron just to add a bit spice about Horse Chestnut and I’m sure Jay will ejoy this comment as well…Being a very close friend to Weichong Marwing for over 40 years there’s nothing we did not do together,,attending the same school to organising Weichong into the academy to sharing a apartment together after his apprenticeships for a few years..anyway when I asked Weichong to compare Horse Chestnut to the likes of Roland Song and St Just,,we all knew that H C was far superior but i just need to see how Weichong would compare them and get his opinion,,why I mentioned both horses is that he had ridden both of them previously and they were about the best he had sat on at that stage of his career,, keeping in mind he was stable jockey to Mr Ferraris Mrs Hemming and MDK so he had a opportunity to really sit on some bombs before H C came along…He said to me the easiest way to compare H C to any thing else he has ridden so you can understand just how good H C was,, he said just picture a Ferrari racing a mini..I then asked him do you think you’ll ever sit on something just as good in the future knowing you still got plenty time on your side as a jockey,,without hesitation he said Frankie unless they are born with wings..He’s final quote was i will (NEVER) sit on another Horse Chestnut again certainly not in this lifetime

  30. Jay August says:

    Cameron, a discussion on rating first time maidens winners or maiden winners by large margins. Rating these performances on a standalone basis is likely a hit-and-miss and very often likely to get one into trouble later. Witness General Franco and World Radar last year as a validation of the problem.

    Unless one has a very firm idea of the range of possible outcomes in a maiden race, and the likely success rate of winners in the future, rating such performance can become at best a guess. Personally, I rate each class of race just as I rate the individuals in a population and there is an acceptable range of performance and a middle level.

    When that range is breached on the upside I will usually adjust the performance down to the topside range. This juvenile season we already have a conundrum in how to rate Pray For Rain and his 10 length maiden romp.

    Without any comparison of similar performance he appears to have run one of the best juvenile maiden ratings this season. Yet in his next start he fails to reproduce this apparent standout performance.

    As an amateur handicapper one can always back adjust ratings, down or up, with time and more information, but this luxury is not afforded the professionals who must make a decision within 24-48 hours.

    What the professionals often lack is a mechanism to claw back error. One of the biggest problems with the MR system in South Africa is the haste with which ratings must be produced – within 24 hours – as our nomination and declarations are done so far in advance of a meeting.

    Contrast that with the UK where ratings are updated once a week, on a Tuesday morning, allowing the handicappers up to 7 days to rate and up to 72 hours to rate weekend feature race performances. Likewise, in Australia, they produce ratings only after 48 hour and their rating method is not pure merit, although the top end ratings are as they have a hybrid system.

    In the absence of time to deliberate on a rating one must fall back on historical norm to correct any individual race and horse error, especially in races where horses are unexposed or the level of collateral evidence is in short supply.

    Here is a list of winners of a maiden race (non-sand) as a juvenile by more than 10 lengths over the last 19 years. Peruse the list, do your own research, and observe how many turned into top class racers or won a pattern race subsequently.

    STRIKE THE DEAL
    UP IN ARMS
    COPA DE LA REY
    SOVEREIGN CIRCLE
    COVERLEY
    CASEY’S SON
    SOUTH COUNTRY
    JOYFUL APPLAUSE
    LT SAMSON
    FLORETTE
    COMMODORE PETE
    MUSCATT
    PROSPECT STRIKE
    PERA PALACE
    RETURN FLIGHT
    MARCH MUSIC
    SHAMROCK WIND
    PRAY FOR RAIN

    My analysis shows that the performance of maiden winners as a group is slightly below the performance of winners of prior non maiden races, indicating that the official handicappers get it almost right but probably err on the side of optimism.

    There is a different debate that one could have in SA which seems to have escaped much attention. That is that we have far too many maiden races and that the maiden population becomes an insulated population running against itself with a few escaping into the next level over time.

    Trapping populations into groups without competition from outside that group has a tendency to raise ratings of the lower group relative to the other higher group/s over time. In the UK most maiden horses with three or more starts run in open handicap races, rather than maiden races.

    The maiden race concept in SA is flawed and should be changed, but it is a large sacred cow and is unlikely to be changed very easily. What may well change it over time are the simple economics of a declining horse population and the need to create a more fluid movement of horses across class and type of race.

  31. Russell Parkinson says:

    Reply to Frankie Zackey.
    Please then reply to this …. Weiching Marwing was interviewed in the past and said that ASIATIC BOY was the best horse he ever rode.
    Please respond.

  32. Cameron James says:

    Thanks Jay. Yout comments are always worth the read. I must share my thoughts on backing a horse 1st time out the maidens, they rarely win.
    That percentage would be very low if i had to do the calculation.

  33. Jay August says:

    Cameron, I have a post with data looking at the performance of horses that have won their previous start, comparing non-maiden and maiden winners. It is titled – Position in Previous Race as a Guide to the Current Race.

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