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Angus McNae

Captain's Blog - 22nd September 2011

It is the time of year when we as punters have to do battle with extreme conditions. At Goodwood yesterday the ground was heavy whereas at Redcar it was good to firm. Under these circumstances we need to be flexible and adjust our thinking to ensure our wagers dovetail the conditions and the potential pace scenarios that may develop.

Under such conditions, pace is even more important than normal and we should not make the mistake of thinking that horses need to go slower early on in a race on heavy ground to preserve energy, and faster on fast ground to gather momentum. What is required to achieve optimum performance is an even pace whatever the conditions. Jockeys often talk about riding to the conditions when what they should be concentrating on is finding an even pace.

If in a heavy ground race they go a hack canter for the first four furlongs, at some point the pace is going to pick up and if the charge for home begins three furlongs out the horses are going to finish just as tired, if not more so, than if they had gone an even pace. Similarly if you go too fast early on in a race run on firm ground you are not going to get home. The conditions are not in themselves going to let you get away with ignoring the pace that you go. Yes the conditions that races are run in are an important factor in handicapping races but where pace is concerned an even 12-second furlong is an even 12-second furlong whatever the weather.

Also now that the weather is changing we have to deal with the bogus idea that horses cannot run as fast when they start to get their winter coat. Their coats change because as wild animals they need to get a hairy coat to protect them from the cold and they shed their coats when the weather gets warm. I presume that gone in their coats means that they now have a winter coat as opposed to a summer one, this happens every year and does not stop horses from running as fast as they could when they had a summer coat. There is a theory that they may not be quite themselves just as the coat starts to turn, but after that they are fine. If a horse entered the paddock completely clipped out some may say that horse has not gone in its coat yet and looks very well when in fact its coat turned a while ago and all the hair has been cut off! So best we forget their coats and concentrate on how fast they can run!


Today's Selection

5.25 Pontefract - Kians Delight



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