A Squeeze Of Time - January 23

Racing and Sports' Adam Blencowe takes a look at some of the key performances from the past racing week with an eye to the clock.

Nature Strip wins the Inglis Dash
Nature Strip wins the Inglis Dash Picture: Racing and Sports

This week 'A Squeeze Of Time' will focus on the Ingis Dash won by Nature Strip. Nature Strip is already responsible for a couple of very smart times, the most recent at Sandown earning him a timefigure of 117 and Timeform rating of 118P.

Nature Strip didn't have to run to that level to come away with the Inglis Dash but still posted a decent time, which looks slightly better when his fast finishing speed is considered. Like so many races down the Flemington straight course the early tempo was slower than optimal.

Prezado ran a very similar race, and has a very handy 108 timefigure in the book from the spring, but perhaps the most interesting horse from a times point of view is the third-placed Bravo Tango.

Like Prezado, Bravo Tango already had a triple-figure timefigure to his name from the spring, and while he didn't better that on Saturday, he certainly hinted at being capable of scaling greater heights.

A finishing speed of 105.4% from the 600m mark shows Bravo Tango finishing very fast. Much faster than what could be considered optimal for the Flemington 1100m, in fact, and some rather clever maths suggests that the time could be as good as 110 in a race run more efficiently.

Bravo Tango has a Timeform rating of 103 but a big 'P' is attached based on the view that he could very quickly build on that in the coming weeks and establish himself higher up the three-year-old food-chain.

It's a jungle out there, though, with Bravo Tango far from on his own as one pegged to climb that food-chain in the coming months. The current three-year-old group is a fascinating one.

The Golden Rose, Caulfield Guineas and Coolmore Stud Stakes (what could be called the 'big three' for the three-year-olds in the spring) were won by horses that started 40-1, 100-1 and 20-1 respectively.

That screams 'wide open division' but it doesn't necessarily mean weak division.

It's checks and balances time at Racing and Sports, as we come to the halfway point of the season, and in the course of those processes it has become evident that the current three-year-old crop, while perhaps slightly lacking for established stars, has plenty poised. Plenty of Bravo Tango's if you like.

Heading into the last week of January, there are more three-year-olds with a Timeform rating above 105 than in any of the preceding five years - 91 of them against an average of 80 in that time-span.

That is despite having just four rated 120 or above - and one of those is Rekindling. Bred, trained, and currently eating grass in, Ireland.

So three in effect, against an average of 7.5, and Menari leads that group at 122p - the lowest crop leader at this point of the season in recent times.

Menari is the local clubhouse leader.
Menari is the local clubhouse leader. Picture: Racing and Sports

Perhaps one of the reasons for this, and one of the reasons to be upbeat about this crop in the back half of the season, is that a good number of these 91 promising horses are not specifically sprinters.

Bravo Tango is fancied to show his best when he gets out towards a mile, as is Saturday's promising Sydney winner D'argento. Others among our 91 with a Timeform 'p' and a mile (or further) in their sights include horses such as Kementari, Pierata, Villermont, Peaceful State, Main Stage, Addictive Nature, Gold Standard and Kaonic.

So this three-year-old group may not have lit it up at the top end so far, but they promise plenty for the future, and as punters we should be very pleased to see that.

Racing and Sports

Adam Blencowe

General Manager - Handicapping | Data Integrity

Adam Blencowe joined Racing and Sports as a racing analyst in 2006.
Adam’s role developed into data management where he has helped to establish and maintain Racing And Sports’ global database – the most comprehensive privately owned racing database in the world.

The database is the driving force behind the global ratings that Adam works closely with Gary Crispe in maintaining as well as the on-going development of the Timeform brand in Australia.