This week we look into the WFA Performance ratings from a few notable races on Saturday, how they played out vs our pre-race expectations and what we can take from them going forward.
THE G1 WFA KINGSTON TOWN
Winner: Pounamu – 100.5
This 6-year-old gelding had 13 starts in NSW for zero wins before transferring to WA and now finds himself a Group 1 winner at his 37th start in the Kingston Town.
The race was won in fast time, but that was very much a function of the fast pace set by Great Shot.
Pounamu did come off a good run in the 1600m Railway which had a very similar fast pace / fast time shape and he also brought a very good time rating peak from his last run at this track and distance in February 2017, which was run at a brutal early speed. With those two references, his win certainly wouldn’t have come as a great surprise to avid time rating followers.
In an overall performance sense, Pounamu’s 100.5 rating is a new peak (up 97.8) but it certainly ranks at the bottom of the scale as far as Group 1 quality goes, approximately 2.3L below the median standard.
The likes of Black Heart Bart, Its Somewhat and Tom Melbourne looked to set the winning standard for this race of at least 101-102, but It’s Somewhat (97.4) ran well below his best and the other two had excuses.
Pounamu’s 100.5 was joined by 2nd placed Material Man @ 99.7 and 3rd placed Achernar Star @ 99.2 as notable new rating peaks out of the race.
ASCOT R4 – SIR ERNEST LEE STEERE 1400m (LR)
Winner: War Room – 97.0
Although he was only coming off a Northam Maiden and Bunbury Class 1 win, War Room brought an extremely competitive WFA Performance Rating to this race, so betting support from $9.50 into $7.00 and his subsequent win was no surprise at all.
After controlling the race at a slow speed, War Room sprinted a quality last 600m and showed good fight to hold of the well backed Godolphin favourite Gaulois ($2.30 to $2.10.)
War Room’s 97 rating was up from his last start peak of 92 and although beaten, Gaulois also ran to a new peak of 98.2, the best rating in the race courtesy of giving the winner 2kg in weight and only being beaten so narrowly.
They put 2.2L on the 3rd horse Reykjavik (92.7) and took the race to a rating level well above what the winning standard looked to be heading in.
Truly Belong was a dominant favourite in early markets ($2.20) but as we commented pre-race there was far too much potential built into that price. She was priced as if guaranteed to make many lengths improvement and that concern was eventually played out in the market as she drifted to start $3.30.
While disappointing on the surface, she did run to a new peak of 92.9 but not nearly enough to match the improvement of those that finished ahead of her.
With a 97 rating at only his third career start, War Room is a horse to follow for the future. He can certainly measure up to G3/ G2 type races in WA in the back half of his 3-year-old season and beyond.
ROSEHILL R7 – 1100m (BM89)
Winner: Test The World – 100.0
This race stood out on an otherwise ordinary day at Rosehill, clocking fast overall time with good sectionals.
Test The World’s 100 rating ranks in the top 5% of winners in Sydney Saturday class BM80-89 racesover the last three seasons. There’s no doubt this Bjorn Baker mare can go on to win black type races.
Bon Amis looked to have the race won when he loomed up to Test The World, but that mare was too tough. With just 52kg he was entitled to win, especially as he was getting 5kg off the winner compared to WFA, so that’s worth keeping in mind going forward.
Although beaten very narrowly, Bon Amis 95.5 rating sits well behind the winner and is indicative of a horse that can win at this benchmark grade, but hasn’t yet shown the talent to progress to black type races.
To Excess was beaten 1.2 lengths and finished 1 length behind Bon Amis, but returned a 98.2 rating courtesy of lumping 58.5kg. He’s an ultra consistent type and given the quality of figures out of this race, he looks more than capable of winning soon.
ROSEHILL R1 – 1100m (2YO Open)
Winner: Gongs – 94.5
There’s a little bit of hype now building about this James Cummings filly after she made it two from two on Saturday (starting $1.45) and she now sits on the equal third line of betting for the Golden Slipper.
However the was a distinct lack of substance in her speed rating measures on Saturday and that is always a big concern when it comes to two-year-olds.
Her 94.5 rating from Saturday leans more heavily on the reference of her prior win at Canterbury and the previous run / rating of runner up Orcein. In other words, if we relied on the speed measures in the total absence of those other references, Gongs would be rated lower than 94.5.
While improvement is always possible, at 94.5 Gongs holds just the 19th best ranked 2YO performance of the season so far and profiles more as a standard Saturday class filly, well below Golden Slipper standard.
The very large majority of Golden Slipper winners (including the last seven) have shown themselves capable of rating at least 97 in one of their first two starts and most have been closer to the 100 level.