Ascot Race 7 | AJ Scahill Stakes | 1400m Open G3 WFA  | 8.10pm

The Track

The track is currently a Good 4 with warm sunny weather forecast for Friday (32c) and Saturday (28c). That should see the meeting run on a genuine Good 3 surface.

Expect the track to race well, with ground from the fence to four horses off suitable in the straight. On pace / handy runners will have a natural racing advantage.

Speed and Tactics

There is a significant lack of early speed / on-pace intent in this race.

If we look at the last 10 starts of every runner, that’s 90 individual runs and only twice have we seen an example of a horse settling first or second in the run.

Both of those were Variation (6), so he seems the most likely candidate to press forward and attempt to lead this race. Ulmann (8) is another that looks better placed going forward, otherwise he’s likely to end up back near last. With Blinkers On here I’d expect him to be positive early.

Even with those two runners pressing forward from mid to wide draws, It’s hard to see anything but a slow to moderate pace and much faster sprint home.

Early Pace Rating: Slow to moderate

Late Pace Rating: Solid to fast

Best Suited: Lead to 2 lengths of the lead.

WFA Performance Ratings - Winning Benchmark

Based on the lead up form of contenders, a rating of at least 96 at the weights will be needed to be in the finish, with the winning mark potentially pushing 97-98.

Race Assessment

1. Variation: Forecast 95.5 - 97. Assessed $3.30

He’s been super consistent with multiple ratings around the 96 level, including last start when just 0.8L away under handicap conditions in the Railway Stakes. He also brings some very fast sectionals ratings under slow pace conditions. Producing such a fast sprint from a front running position in this race would make him extremely hard to run down and most likely reach a rating figure of at least 97.

2. Ulmann: Forecast 94.5 - 98. Assessed $3.70

His last two runs have returned ratings around the 95 level and he does have a 98.4 rating from three starts ago over 1400m at Caulfield that would likely win this race. Blinkers on ”should” see him ridden positively and if that was a certainty I’d have him marked a little shorter. The prospect of being advantaged up near the lead combined with the quality and consistency in his ratings present him as a top winning chance.

9. Silverstream: Forecast 92 - 98. Assessed $7.00

She raced flat last start in the 1600m Railway, but her two prior runs were wins over this T&D and rated in the 97-98 range, which is certainly good enough to win this race. With the expected lack of pace here she’ll need to settle closer than the 4-5L off we often see from her (the barrier gives her a chance to do that) and there’s naturally some uncertainty if she can bounce back from last start. However there’s no doubt she has the performance quality that can win this race.

6. State Solicitor: Forecast 92 - 98. Assessed $7.50

He raced flat in the 1200m Winterbottom last start, with a 91.6 rating that won’t be competitive here. However, his two prior 1100m runs had merit around the 98 level, so there’s no doubt he has the talent to win. The risk I see with him though is that from barrier 7 there’s some chance he ends up at least 3+ lengths from the leaders. Under that scenario, if the likes of Variation and Ulmann are running home in a 120+ figure it would mean State Solicitor needs to sprint home faster then he’s ever done before to make up the ground and win. It’s hard to see him rating near 98 under those conditions. If he somehow jags a position one out – one back from the lead then his chances are better, but I have to allow for the risk he ends up further back and rate him comfortably behind the top two.

5. Profit Street: Forecast 92 - 95. Assessed $15.00

He brings solid 95.5-96.5 ratings from his last two, but he’s likely to be a little further back in the run here, under a far less favourable early pace scenario.  Also, at his only prior start over 1400m his run peaked 100m out, so he’s no certainty to run the distance out strongly. While he has the recent form to be very competitive, he looks more likely to rate lower here and short of the winning mark.

3. Properantes: 91 - 94. Assessed $26.00

He ran to a 94.3 rating two starts ago and looks like getting an ideal run so a new peak is not impossible. However, he’s much more likely to rate around the same level or a little lower, consistent with the bulk of his form.

7. Zuccheros: Forecast 90 - 93. Assessed $34.00

His last start win was visually impressive, but he was well suited by the early speed and the 91.3 rating under WFA conditions here is well short of the winning standard.

4. Mr Utopia: Forecast 86 - 91. Assessed $51.00

He hasn’t had much luck in two runs this preparation, but you have to go back to mid-2015 to find a rating that suggests he can be somewhere in the finish of this race.

8. Django: Forecast 88 - 92. Assessed $101.00

He was beaten by Zuccheros last start and has peak form around the 92 rating level. That’s well short of what will be needed here.

Betting Strategy

This looks a decent betting race with two of the top-rated horses on recent form also likely to be best suited racing up near the lead under a slow to moderate pace scenario. On current market prices the value exists with Ulmann, while Variation is neutral. If that changes then you could certainly back Variation for a winning result as well, but on current markets I’m happy to back Ulmann and save on Variation.

 BACK – Ulmann to WIN at >$3.70 – Stake 1% of your total bank

 BACK – Variation to WIN at $3.30+ – Stake 0.5% of your total bank

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