Winx was the natural standout, but how did some of the other big names fare at Randwick and Flemington on Saturday?
Chipping Norton Stakes
- Winx 110
- Prized Icon 98
The Queen is back!
Winx began her spring campaign with a 102.7 and she then took all five runs to reach a rating of 110.
Last Saturday she matched her last start Cox Plate rating with the seven length romp in the Chipping Norton. This figure matched her first up effort from last year’s autumn, where she improved to figures of 115 in the George Ryder Stakes and 113.5 in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Saturday’s return would suggest she’s poised to return to those levels this campaign – wherever that happens to be.
Of particular interest though is a distinctive pattern that has emerged with Winx during her golden stream of 23 straight wins. Since the spring of 2015, her median ratings in races with genuine race pace or faster is 110, versus 105 with slower tempos.
That is understandable, as a fast pace presents a tougher test of stamina and the best horses put bigger margins on their lesser rivals.
But the real standout – and one that was backed up by Hugh Bowman’s post-race comments on Saturday – is her soft vs hard track ratings. On Soft and heavy rated tracks (since the spring of 2015), her median rating is 112.5, versus 106 on Good 3 or 4 rated tracks.
Prized Icon fared best of the rest in notching another Group 1 placing, returning a 98 rating.
He’s coming along okay for Kris Lees but bumping into Winx isn’t the ideal scenario. He does shape as a potential Brisbane carnival horse, with a race like the Doomben Cup a suitable target.
- Shoals 98.6
- Torvill 97.6
Promoted to a Group 1 race for the first time, those responsible for the move will point to the winner having already won at Group 1 level as justification, but the reality is that the ratings fell well short of elite level.
The overall time rating ranked 5th on the day and Shoals final 600m rating was 7th best of the nine Randwick races.
It was a big turnaround by Shoals, who looked terribly disappointing first up. This was much more like her excellent spring form, where she hit 100 or better (up to 101.8) in three consecutive runs, culminating with the Group 1 Myer over the older mares.
She has scope to improve further, but her challenge next time in the Coolmore Classic will be how she’s dealt with by the handicapper. She will need to rate better again if she’s to win that race.
Torvill has run to 97.6 in both runs this time in, which is a level above what we had seen from her previously.
Alizee was the disappointment, regressing from her first up win after seemingly having every chance to run down the leaders from the 200m point. The one excuse you could make for her was the Soft rated track. Her worst rating in the spring was on Soft ground first up, before she improved to genuine elite level on top of the ground in subsequent runs.
Liverpool City Cup
- Crack Me Up 101.5
- Care To Think 100
- Egg Tart 99.8
The controversial horse of the week Crack Me Up has gone to a new peak here, cracking triple figures for the first time.
His previous best came during last year’s winter carnival when he was second to Religify in a 98.9 rating. He only had to go to 96 to win the Villiers in December before he flopped on Magic Millions day.
The overall time was solid and Crack Me Up produced the second best 600m rating of all winners on the day and the best final 200m rating.
Crack Me Up only landed in Bjorn Baker’s stable last week so you can’t put the improvement down to that. Perhaps it’s just a matter of the horse getting better with age.
We know he’s only going to be better suited going to the mile of the Doncaster and he’s in that race with just 52kg. A similar type rating would have him as a serious chance in that race at the weights.
Care To Think again did it tough – just as he’s done in three of four starts since December – and replicated the rating he ran to on Magic Millions day. There’s little doubt he can reach a higher level than this with better luck.
Chris Waller seemingly has Egg Tart back on track, with this being the best rating she has returned since last year’s Queensland Oaks (100).
Guy Walter Stakes
- Dixie Blossoms 99.5
- Raiment 97.5
Ron Quinton shrewdly managed to separate his two star mares to kick off their autumn preps and he’s been rewarded with Group 2 wins in consecutive weeks.
Daysee Doom ran to 96.7 last week and Dixie Blossoms trumped her with this 99.5
While Daysee’s best to this point stands at 97.1, Dixie has twice run to 100 or better and off this return, there’s no reason she won’t do the same again this autumn. Dixie Blossoms’ produced a time rating that was second only to Winx on the day.
- Seabrook 96.1
- Santos 95
- Spin 94.6
Based solely on what we saw on Saturday, neither of these two races are good enough to be considered genuine Golden Slipper form. Their times ranked 7th and 8th best for the day and the sectionals from both races lacked substance too.
Santos reverted back to his debut Breeders’ Plate rating of 95 here, leaving his first up 101 now standing as a one-off spike in four career runs.
Santos supporters may draw some faith from the fact that the last two winners of the Golden Slipper, She Will Reign and Capitalist both ran below their peaks in their lead up with ratings in the mid 90’s and then bounced back to win the G1. That has been more the exception than the rule though when it comes to forecasting Slipper winners.
We’re not prepared to drop off Santos all together, but in a year with plenty of depth, the Golden Slipper may be a bridge too far. We could see him bouncing back closer to his peak rating there (a race the stable have freaky record in), but could not forecast him going to a figure that would win it.
However, he could very easily run well and put himself in the frame for races like the Sires and Champagne.
Spin has also run to his Breeders’ Plate level here. Notably, he improved to 98 second up in the spring, so we believe there’s definite scope for him to improve as his campaign goes on.
Seabrook has proven herself a very progressive filly in three career starts to date, improving from 85.2 to 90 second up (where she most certainly should have rated higher) and 96.1 here. She needs to improve another 3.5 to 4 lengths to reach the level that will be needed to win the Golden Slipper.
- Grunt 102
- Peaceful State 101.1
Grunt continued his climb through the ranks with a gutsy win off the back of a brilliant ride to land his first Group 1.
Cliff’s Edge set an incredibly fast tempo in front, setting up very fast time and easily the best overall time rating of the day.
To put the early speed into context, Cliffs Edge’s speed rating for the first 1000m was the 6th fastest recorded in the last 20 years of 1600m races at Flemington (396 races.) His fading finish has to be forgiven in the circumstances.
Grunt’s WPR of 102 compares favourably to the past two winners of this race, Hey Doc (101) and Palentino (101.5) and notably both of those horses went on to Group 1 success as four-year-olds.
Given that scenario, Peaceful State is also poised for higher honours. He showed his potential with a narrow second in the Sandown Guineas last November and showed his true form here after being below his best in the C.S. Hayes.