The Rating Bureau: Emirates Stakes

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THE RATING BUREAU

The EMIRATES STAKES – 1600m Open G1 Hcp $1,000,000

 

THE TRACK

The track is currently a Heavy 8 (Thursday) with further showers forecast for Friday.

It’s unlikely there will be any rain on Saturday, which will help the track start to dry out but it will still be well and truly rain affected, so wet track ability is important.

While we’ve seen the fence heavily favoured on Derby and Melbourne Cup Day, a soft track Oaks Day meeting leading up to this and the prospect of the track chopping out a bit should even up the straight a little… at least we hope so!

 

SPEED & TACTICS

This looks like being a fast run race. Turn Me Loose (11) has won his last two leading at a fast speed and looks certain to adopt similar tactics here. He doesn’t need any additional pressure to roll along at a strong speed, but will possibly have some from Coronation Shallan (14) and / or Arod (15) following him across. It’s difficult to imagine anything but fast early sections and slower rating final sections in this race. The overall time rating will be fast, so proven ability in similar high pressure races is a positive.

 

Early Pace Rating: Solid to fast

Late Pace Rating: Below average to moderate

Best Suited: Midfield runners are likely to be far enough out of the speed battle to travel comfortably, but not so far back that they risk giving away too much start.

 

A RECAP ON HANDICAP RATINGS

Previously I’ve discussed that when assessing handicap races, it’s necessary to take the raw WFA Performance Ratings and then adjust them for the handicap weight to be carried. It’s this nature of handicap racing that gives slightly inferior horses the chance to compete with those higher rated, by carrying less weight.

All rating figures quoted in my assessment below are based on past runs adjusted to reflect the weight to be carried in The Emirates Stakes. They focus on expected performance “at the weights”, which a key with many runners coming from WFA races, back to handicap conditions.

 

RACE OVERVIEW

 

Below are the ratings that recent Emirates Stakes winners have run to at the weights:

 

  • 2014 – Hucklebuck – 107.3
  • 2013 – Boban – 107.1
  • 2012 – Happy Trails – 106.5
  • 2011 – Albert The Fat – 109
  • 2010 – Wall Street – 106.3
  • 2009 – All American – 108.7
  • 2008 – All Silent – 111

 

This year a rating of at least 105 will be needed to be competitive in the finish and there’s plenty of depth at that level, which makes it very likely that the winner will peak on the day and likely push to at least a 106-108 rating at the weights.

Proven ability to rate somewhere in this range and / or clear potential to reach that level is critical to assessing the winning chances.  With such competitive depth at a standard consistent with the recent history of this race, the prospects of a runner improving from below the required rating standard to win is much less than in many races we see.

 

Runner by Runner

He ran to a 105.9 level two starts ago when he won the Toorak Hcp, settling back off a strong pace and running particularly fast overall time. It was an almost identical scenario to what we can expect from the pace and pressure in this race. However last start he produced an uncharacteristically flat run. There’s no doubt he was not suited by the bias on the day trying to make ground off the fence, but he still had the opportunity to do more. It’s reasonable to think he’ll bounce back here with a good run, but some allowance has to be made for that last start. Even if I take a very optimistic view and push him back to that 105.9 peak from two starts ago, it leaves him very competitive, but vulnerable to one of the others with prospects to push past the 106 rating level.

He raced too keenly in the Cox Plate and ran well and truly below his level of overseas form. That makes him very difficult to assess here because the ratings from his 3 runs prior to coming to Australia (1600-1700) are well and truly good enough to win this race with 57.5kg.

It’s impossible to assess him at that level though after what we saw last start, the prospect of much more pressure in this race than he’s ever experienced before and the fact that he is a big question mark on soft ground. His overall talent has to be respected, but I’m happy to bet around him.

He’s been flying in his last two, leading at a strong pace and kicking on to win and run fast overall time. Both of those performances bring him into this race with a 104.7 rating, which is close enough to the competitive mark, but the big question is whether he can run to a new peak of 106+ that is likely needed to actually win this race.

One unknown at this stage which will most certainly affect his chances is how the track plays. Both at Seymour and definitely at Moonee Valley last start he was well suited by a pattern favouring horses closer to the fence / lead. If the track for this race turns out to be more even or even off fence in the wet conditions then that would take away from his prospects.

I can’t totally rule out a new peak run and being out in front means he’s the one the others all have to catch, but I do favour some of the others as more likely to push into that 106-107 range and for that reason I find it hard to see any betting appeal.

He comes off an excellent Australian debut when a fast finishing 2nd to Turn Me Loose last start in the Crystal Mile. He was unlucky in that race when briefly held up behind a tiring horse at a crucial stage, which makes his 105.1 rating out of that run carry the merit of around a 106 level performance. That’s right on the winning mark for this race and with a similar pace scenario there’s every reason to be confident he’ll run to a similar level here, if not better. Soft ground seems no problem… he’s a top chance here with a nice profile worth betting.

He’s been extremely consistent this preparation with two wins and two Group 1 second placings, including the Toorak Handicap behind Lucky Hussler two runs ago. He has two peak runs at the 106.5 rating level, but so far this preparation he’s maxed out with a peak of 104.1, which can be thereabouts in this race, but won’t be good enough to win. I can’t totally discount that he could find something extra to get back to the 106.5 performance level, but he has had every chance in recent runs so I have to focus more on those ratings.

He ran to a 105 rating level in the McKinnon Stakes behind Gailo Chop last Saturday and was very unlucky over the last 400m without clear galloping room at various stages, especially in the last 75m. That puts him conservatively at a 106 rating and potentially higher for this race.  The pace was just even in the 2000m McKinnon Stakes and although he drops back to 1600m here, he gets a race with fast early pace, which looks ideal. His strength at 2000m can be a key asset over the closing stages of a brutal 1600m test and there’s no evidence to say a soft track will be a problem. He has nice betting appeal.

He ran to a solid 104 rating level last Saturday when 1.9L 6th behind Gail Chop in the McKinnon Stakes. That’s about as good as he goes, so while he gets an idea run just off the lead and has a somewhat competitive figure, it’s hard to see him winning the race.

He has some very old form from the Autumn in 2014 that sits in the 106 to 108 range, but that’s 18 months ago now and he’s gone no better than 103.5 this preparation. That won’t be good enough to challenge the winners in this.

He’s gone no better than a 101.5 rating this preparation and 103 in his last two preparations. Back to 1600m I can’t see him suddenly making a massive improvement.

His best form sits between the 101 and 102.5 level, which is nowhere near good enough to win this. After 30 starts I can’t forecast him to suddenly run to a massive new career peak. He looks well under the odds at the current market price.

She’s flying this preparation with three wins from three starts and ran to a 103.2 level last start winning The Myer (1600m G1 F&M WFA) at this track. This is an entirely different level though and she will need to push to a clear new career peak to have any chance.

His best is in the 102 to 102.5 range, which is nowhere near good enough to be competitive in the finish of this race.

She has been racing well without winning, but in the last 12 months she’s never been better than a 102.4 rating and her best in the last 18 months is 103.5. With so much competitive depth at the 105+ level here, it’s very hard to see her suddenly running to a big new peak and then still getting past all of the other runners already at that mark.

He’s one longshot in this race that does look to offer genuine value.  His last start run over 1600m at Randwick with 60kg was excellent… he sat 3W with no cover handy to a strong speed and kept fighting all the way to the finish to finish 0.8 length 2nd in a fast overall time rating.

Coming into this race with 52.5kg presents him with a 105.5 rating off that last start run, which is consistent with his peak form from the early part of last Spring where he produced a number of performances around that level. He may not have the scope to push much higher than that, but he’ll handle soft ground, is proven in high pressure races and comes off a run at a level that could see him competitive. He offers great longshot value.

Ran to an equal career peak of 100 last start, which was very much aided by the on fence bias at Moonee Valley. That’s well and truly short of what is needed to be competitive in this race.

Ratings are significantly below the standard that will be needed to win this. It would be a big surprise if he was competitive.

BETTING STRATEGY

For every $100 you want to invest on the race, stake in the following ratio:

 

 

 

TRB

 

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