Handicapping the Darley Classic

kv joef Roar Guru

By kv joef, kv joef is a Roar Guru

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    On Tuesday I detailed my working of a traditional handicap. Today we will have a look at a set-weight race – the Darley Classic, a 1200-metre run under weight-for-age conditions (WFA).

    Weight-for-age conditions means that the competitors are allotted fixed weight designated for their age and gender. This is meant to create a level playing field where the best horse should win.

    Also, as on Tuesday, I make a reference to the official handicap rating (OHR), more commonly known as the benchmark rating.

    The Darley Classic joins the perennially underrated Black Caviar Lightning Stakes, Newmarket Stakes, The TJ Smith Stakes and The Everest as the top sprint races conducted in 2017, and this year’s Darley is a beauty.

    The two current Australasian sprint stars, Chautauqua and Redzel, are top of the heap. Chautauqua is not displaced as Australia’s top sprinter, although Redzel with victory here would do that very thing. Both are in fast form, so expect the sparks to fly. One in front and the other charging from near enough to last.

    As on Tuesday, the analysis is ordered in preference.

    (Photo: AAP)

    1. Chautauqua
    Chautauqua has slid the scale two points from his TJ Smith Stakes victory last Autumn. Even with his reduced mark, OHR116, he holds the number one rank in this field and equal second rank in the world.

    Some suggest he is on the slide, but his finishing 200-metre splits are as good as ever. There is a lot of nonsense ranted about his inability to handle the Flemington straight course. Plain unresearched rubbish. The big grey has traffic problems. He hates to be surrounded by horses. Once he is in clear air, he is nearly unbeatable.

    I used the term ‘clear air’ as it is used in Moto GP motorcycle racing, where a rider moves out from the slipstream with nothing in front and very few competitors on either side. There’s nothing to impede the rider’s acceleration away from the nearby traffic. In fact Chautauqua’s only loss in clear air down the straight was a head-bobber to Delectation in the 2015 Darley.

    After his performance in The Everest when given no chance to win by being ridden into the pack, he gets an old mate Dwayne Dunn back as jockey. Dwayne knows all about his requirement for clear air, and hopefully Team Hawkes will give Dunn the licence to go find it. It’s 18 months since he raced at Flemington. He’ll enjoy himself.

    (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)

    2. Redzel
    Redzel from the team of Peter and Paul Snowden is a wonderfully gifted sprinter. He has moved to the very top level this year. His sustained speed is unmatched. Jockey Kieran McEvoy has Redzel’s pace chart down to a nuance knowing exactly when and how to apply pace pressure to the detriment of his opponents. His performance in The Everest was breathtaking and dominant.

    This son of flying machines Snitzel and Millrich is one-for-one down the Flemington straight, where he just bettered Terravista over 1000 metres last November. His current OHR115 is over ten points higher than last year. In handicapping parlance, such a quality rise is called jumping the scale.

    It’s hard to see Chautauqua and/or Redzel being bettered on the day, but this is horse racing! And it is always good handicapping practice to re-handicap the race if the obvious top picks were scratched and see what emerges.

    If the two seeds don’t figure, it will be a very close contest between Vega Magic, Terravista, Redkirk Warrior and the wonderful Newcastle mare In Her Time.

    Some may think that Lindsay Park’s Vega Magic should be the auto-pick as he has an OHR115, but on my maths he is yet to prove that high number. He has proven at OHR113. His Everest finishing 600-metre sectional was good but flattering. He needs to be quicker to win this.

    Stablemate Redkirk Warrior is undefeated down the Flemington straight course. He is yet to show the speed required to win this. He was the fastest straight-course winner on both days he won at Flemington but the comparison times for other distances were average. Redkirk Warrior’s rating is OHR112 but only down the straight.

    The big improver along with Redzel is Newcastle mare In Her Time. Her OHR111 is confirmed. She was very unlucky in the Manikato Stakes (1200 metres) at Moonee Valley. She has been very unlucky in many of her defeats but should appreciate Flemington and barrier 1.

    Her speed to compete is good. Her autumn campaign was all over the place, finally finishing with some unlucky performances in the Brisbane winter. On weights-and-measures handicapping her Doomben 10,000 performance should have Impending and Clearly Innocent covered.

    Last on the shortlist is ‘the spoiler’, Terravista. People seem to forget that he won the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington last February running a good time. This is a below standard field compared to recent times, but the horse has good time and eats pressure for breakfast when he wants too. He has done little since that victory, but he is ‘the spoiler’. Corey Brown rode Terravista in that race and now swaps to In Her Time.

    So my pick for best of the rest must land with:

    (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    3. In Her Time
    In Her Time should prove herself more than capable of keeping up. Novocastrians usually do.

    A couple of starters that are in the market and receiving a push are Impending and Malaguerra. Both runners are suspect at this speed.

    There are two types of quick speed. The first is pressured speed, where the race is run in a manner that fatigues competitors of lesser constitution. The other type is plain speed, the fastest horse between two points. Not much pressure, just a sprint home of a nice speed.

    A perfect example of these two speed types was on Everest day. In Her Time won the Sydney Stakes (1200 metres) faster than Redzel won the Everest, but the $10 million race was all pressure and you were watching Group 1 sprinters popping like balloons all the way down the straight. This was best exemplified by Deploy, who had set two track records at his previous starts but just couldn’t cope. He still battled strongly all the way, but he was dished.

    Back to the Darley Classic, Impending needs to improve. Even if you give him a full maturity bonus from last spring’s top mark, the Caulfield Guineas, he still ends up on OHR109. I can’t see any way through that mark, and whether he can take the pace-pressure is to be seen.

    To be a chance in the Darley a contender requires a minimum proven rating of OHR111.

    This brings us to Malaguerra with OHR112. As honest as they come, having won his last four starts at the track with the last two on the straight course. He won this race last year beating the unlucky Spieth, who again is a competitor. It was a messy race where many good horses failed, and the time was poor.

    Malaguerra had promising times 18 months ago when trained by Lee and Anthony Freedman. He ran a race record for his new trainer, the talented Peter Gelagotis, winning the Moonee Valley Australian Stakes, but that time isn’t good enough for this. His number is good, but whether he can take this pace pressure is under the microscope.

    So my wash-up on this very classy race is for the two sprint stars, Redzel and Chautaugua, to battle it out. In Her Time may upset if she continues her jump up the scale. If the absurd happens and the early speed goes out of the race, who knows what will occur, but I don’t think McEvoy will let that happen.

    Good luck.

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    The Crowd Says (17)

    • Editor

      November 11th 2017 @ 7:37am
      Tristan Rayner said | November 11th 2017 @ 7:37am | ! Report

      Thanks KV, another good read and you’re in form! In Her Time scratched this morning so that’ll shake things up. I welcome your 3rd pick replacement 😉

      • Roar Guru

        November 11th 2017 @ 10:04am
        kv joef said | November 11th 2017 @ 10:04am | ! Report

        Sorry tristan, for the lateness, a few things going on.

        What bad luck for Ben Smith and connections. It is a feeling that leaves you so empty. hope it is nothing serious.

        Replacement has to Vega Magic but as mentioned there are a clump around the OHR111 and with Vega at OHR113. Looks like i got no place to hide with my two picks … won’t want it any other way …

        if i get time to post here … maybe one or two others today that seem … well-placed … 🙂 .

    • November 11th 2017 @ 8:05am
      Peeeko said | November 11th 2017 @ 8:05am | ! Report

      Great race, as good as the Everest
      The VRC attracts the same field for 1/10 of the prize money

    • November 11th 2017 @ 9:03am
      MAX said | November 11th 2017 @ 9:03am | ! Report

      I was all set to have more on Impending. My respect for your opinion will stop that
      burst of wishful thinking. Will the same vet be on barrier duty to pass Hawkes’ horse?

      • November 11th 2017 @ 9:49am
        Razzar said | November 11th 2017 @ 9:49am | ! Report

        The Darley Classic looks an intriguing race. It’s preferable if al runners stick as one, and not split up, it makes it a more fairer contest.

        I’m mapping Miss Rock and Super Cash to be right on speed. My reasoning, there is no point getting cover behind some of these world class sprinters. You must make the running and hope to finish in the prize money somewhere.

        That will help Redzel like it did in the Everest, with that had Houtzen cutting the breeze for him. $6

        Then we have Vega Magic, unknown down straight, but should smoke pipe with cover, huge sprinting talent, hard to get past when he hits the lead… $4.00 rating

        Chautauqua gets to wind up not having to negotiate any bends, his best chance to win a race, since the Autumn. But with a few lengths to make up late, post looming too quick, could be his enemy. $7 rating

        Redkirk Warrior. When he won down the straight 2 starts back, looked a world beater. Looking back had control of low pressure race early, and pinged away. Loves straight though. Good chance. $8.50 rating

        Impending. What can you about this fellow? Most improved sprinter, miler in last 12 months? The interesting part is he and The Chau will run almost together, racing somewhere inside runners would be best, as first time down straight, he could look a little lost. Cannot deny he’s a chance, but beating world class sprinters, is still a stretch for mine. $11 rating

        This would’ve been a great race to end the Carnival on. End it on a High, don’t end it with just race 9…Shame, Shame, Shame.

        Just one beautiful day after the other in Melb today Punters…Good luck.

      • Roar Guru

        November 11th 2017 @ 9:57am
        kv joef said | November 11th 2017 @ 9:57am | ! Report

        Max, for heaven’s sake it is horse-racing. Impending is solid in the market and that takes serious knowledge and money. Over the years i’ve learned to trust my method and it is ‘right-enough’ not right-always.

        Maybe don’t back him like a moral … and you are allowed to margin your ‘book’ – invest in a way that offers safeguards – exotics – backing more than one runner etc.

        the thing at Moonee Valley was that John Hawkes was on course. When i heard that i went again. that scratching was mystifying. i watched him walk-and-trot and he looked alright to me and when he cow-kicked when lead away … he was starting to get dirty because he wanted to get-going … because he wanted to race. Bet Dunn doesn’t get out of the saddle for any reason today 🙂

        • November 11th 2017 @ 10:48am
          Aransan said | November 11th 2017 @ 10:48am | ! Report

          Perhaps we need Vets who understand horses. Overall an interesting analysis as always.

    • Roar Rookie

      November 11th 2017 @ 10:42am
      JOHNY BULLDOG said | November 11th 2017 @ 10:42am | ! Report

      Wonderful work KV,a pleasure to read,thanks very much & good luck mate.

    • Columnist

      November 11th 2017 @ 10:43am
      Cameron Rose said | November 11th 2017 @ 10:43am | ! Report

      I respect what you have to say about Chautauqua KV, but a big part of being a good racehorse is winning! And he just doesn’t do it any more. Nothing wrong with his splits home, but he’s trying to catch fast horses that are going to be well in front of him. Add to that his record on the good since his last win (5: 0-0-1), and he’s well under the odds at $5 for mine.

      Also, why is there talk about Chautauqua not handling the straight? There was a while there where he was considered a straight track specialist!

      • November 11th 2017 @ 11:02am
        monday QB said | November 11th 2017 @ 11:02am | ! Report

        ‘A big part of being a good racehorse is winning’…sort of, but not really…and it’s bit rich given you’ve tipped Tom (‘back me next time’) Melbourne pretty much all campaign!!

        • November 11th 2017 @ 9:00pm
          michael steel said | November 11th 2017 @ 9:00pm | ! Report

          He’s ran second just about every run, that’s a collect for most punters.

      • Roar Guru

        November 11th 2017 @ 11:13am
        kv joef said | November 11th 2017 @ 11:13am | ! Report

        Racing’s great isn’t it. It’s no different to another great sport. like going to the footy with mates who are barracking for opposing teams. you’ll argue till you are blue in the face all with no personal disrespect then the game starts … contest … and when the final siren sounds someone greats bragging rights for five minutes … and then it’s onto next week.

        Again, you continue to make a valid points and i will be backing Redzel as well. for many of the reasons you have mentioned … actually I’m backing Team Hawkes to have him ready for today … they has him ready for The Everest … gee i hope one of them wins 🙂 .

        Hope it is a happy punt for you today … plenty of value about.

    • Roar Guru

      November 11th 2017 @ 11:23am
      kv joef said | November 11th 2017 @ 11:23am | ! Report

      Fastnet Tempest looks really solid.

      I liked Taj Mahal’s gallop in the Caulfield Stks. He returned one of the better 1000 metre sectionals in the race although finishing near the tail. He has a WR that makes him v.competitive and good value for the exotics. I’d be disappointed if he didn’t show-up.

      Heaven’s Above was narrowly beaten over 1800 metres early in her career. If she gets the trip, she has a bit on these but only a minor consideration.

      Really nice value in Race 4. Mick Price’s two and teams Hawkes and Cerchi might provide some competition for the West Australian … who is a pretty good horse all the same.

      On numbers, Qwey should be beaten in the Queen Liz Stks. But i can’t get his stablemate, Francis of Assisi’s five length demolition of this race last year out of my head. Maybe there is a scale jump in Qwey like FoA.

      Kiwia and Venguer Masque are on reasonably level marks with a leaning to the promising nature of the Weir horse. Tristan mention in his Geelong Cup preview that he had heard the stable considered him G1 potential. This should sort that out 🙂 ..

      T.McEvoy is having a great carnival Kourham looks well placed, even though Having Plenty has a good mark, and come to think of it Shamkiyr and Tarquin can be there too … who said ‘you can’t tip them all’ … what rubbish.

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