Epsom’s Big Races Don’t Disappoint
I was lucky enough to be at Epsom last Friday and Saturday (writes Phil Smith) and found both days very exciting and professionally fulfilling. Taghrooda had the Investec Oaks won over two furlongs from the finish and my only issue was what to call the winning distance. Over a mile and a half we work on 1.5lbs per length so her victory by an un-extended 3.75 lengths is worth just under 6lbs. I believe there was a fair bit left in the tank so have called the winning margin 7lbs.
Tarfasha went into the race on 109 in Ireland after her comfortable win in the Blue Wind Stakes at Naas a few weeks ago. It seems reasonable to believe that she has replicated that performance so Taghrooda comes out on 116. This makes her post-race the highest rated Oaks winner since Sariska recorded a 119 in 2009 when just touching off Midday.
In Saturday’s Investec Coronation Cup, the top two rated horses going into the race were Cirrus Des Aigles on 123 and Flintshire on 120 from last year. After discussing the race with Dominic Gardiner-Hill at Epsom we have Cirrus Des Aigles again performing to 123 going through Ambivalent on 112 from the Middleton Stakes at York in May. He gave her a 3lbs and a comfortable 4.25 lengths beating at Epsom which we have called 8lbs.
As a result Flintshire is credited with 119 which is very promising for a first run of the season. In terms of historical context it puts Cirrus Des Aigles a pound behind the performances of St Nicholas Abbey in the Coronation Cup in the last two years but slightly ahead of the five year post race average of 122.6.
In the Investec Derby our top two rated horses going into the race were Australia (pictured) on 119 and Kingston Hill on 118. They also were first and second. After discussions with Dominic it seemed reasonable to put Kingston Hill back to the mark of 120 which was the rating he was allocated at the end of his two-year-old career by the European handicappers. In the last 100 yards, Australia was only pushed out with hands and heels by his jockey so the winning distance we called 3lbs giving Australia a 123 performance.
It also fitted pretty well with Arod back in fourth who improved just a pound from his run in the Dante to 109 in beating True Story by just a little further this time. Post-race this makes Australia the equal of Sea The Stars who got 123 when winning the Derby in 2009. By the end of the season he had improved to 136 so it will be interesting how Australia’s subsequent performances compare to a great horse.
In a week of some outstanding racing I must mention the performance of The Grey Gatsby who stormed home in the Prix du Jockey Club to record a 119 performance. This will earn him a place in the next publication by the International Handicappers of the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings due out on Thursday.