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Friday, 01 MARCH 2024

When Green with Envy dashed through a closing 22.45 second fraction to win the Cape Derby it bought an end to the 23/24 Summer Season at the coast. Now, SA thoroughbred action shifts swiftly to the Highveld where three G1’s will be staged at Turffontein on Saturday.

Let’s take a different tack in analysing the Wilgerbosdrift SA Fillies Classic, TAB SA Classic and Wilgerbosdrift H F Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes. We will use historic par scores to narrow done the contenders to those that have already run comparable figures attained by horses who won the race in the recent past.

Of course, healthy three-year-old horses typically improve to run numbers higher than they’ve managed previously. So, I’ve cut some slack and lowered the required rating to make it more encompassing.

Here are recent past winners of the 1800m SA Fillies Classic with their best speed scores:

Takingthepeace - 101

Return Flight - 99

Summer Pudding - 108

War of Athena -110

Rain Holland - 104

Bless My Stars – 107

That averages out at 105. By reducing that to 101, these are the qualifiers for the ’24 edition:

Gimme a Nother – 110

Silver Sanctuary – 103

My Soul Mate – 101

Bavarian Beauty – 101

Egyptian Mau – 101.

The Honours Roll for the 1800m SA Classic since 2018 features these luminaries:

Hawwaam – 117

Got the Greenlight – 111

Malmoos – 107

Red Saxon – 104

Anfields Rocket – 107.

That averages out to 109, distorted somewhat by the monster fig of Hawwaam. Again, let’s create a margin of safety by lowering the qualifying standards to 105 and see who has already shown sufficiently competitive ability. Only two entries meet the par:

Sandringham Summit – 114 +

Barbaresco – 108 +

Below are the best ratings achieved by recent past winners of the Horse Chestnut Stakes over 1600m. As the race is open to mature older horses, high-class milers at the peak of their powers typically hit bigger numbers than three-year-olds, hence the elevated par of 113:

Legal Eagle – 115

Soqrat – 114

Hawwaam – 117

Got the Greenlight – 111

MK’s Pride – 108

Trip of Fortune – 112.

That small sample averages out to 113. Same procedure - let’s create some “wiggle room” and drop that fig by four points down to 109. Casting a wider net, the qualifiers are:

Princess Calla – 115

Main Defender - 115

Winchester Mansion – 112

Dave the King – 111

At My Command – 109

Cosmic Highway - 109

Cousin Casey – 109.

From bitter experience we know that every now and then, a strange one wakes up dramatically and runs a number way better than a reading of their past performances suggests they could possibly produce. Racing & handicapping are not exact sciences.

But following this process puts things in perspective and helps punters focus on what it takes to win a particular race based on historical patterns.

Be sure to check out some revealing footage from producer, Andrew Bon about reigning HOTY, Princess Calla on the Interbet link.

And carefully monitor shifts in the odds, track conditions and canter pasts on Saturday before committing your hard-earned cash


Mark van Deventer

Mark van Deventer

Mark van Deventer has been refining his speed figures for thoroughbred racehorses over three decades. He’s long been intrigued by the intellectual puzzle of form study. Andrew Beyer, creator of the Beyer speed figures in America, has always been his inspirational “guru.” So, the figures that underpin Mark’s analysis use Beyer’s main concepts, and have been adapted to suit South African racecourses.

The racing bug can be compelling - since 2013, this U.C.T. Psychology graduate has settled into a career as a full time journalist and racing manager.

Mark uses the insights gained from time-based analysis to convey well-researched handicapping opinions, building a reputation of integrity in the media as an imaginative handicapper with the ability to unearth live runners at juicy prices.

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