A Squeeze Of Time - February 5

Feature two-year-old races across Sydney and Melbourne this weekend threw up some interesting performances against the clock.

Performer deserves his spot at the top of Slipper betting
Performer deserves his spot at the top of Slipper betting Picture: Performer

The two-year-old scene is starting to move and shake with Blue Diamond lead-ups in full swing in Melbourne and the first of what will be a weekly dose of Golden Slipper preparations taking place at Rosehill via the Widden and the Canonbury.

The winner of the Canonbury was Performer, the horse that has sat at the top of Timeform's Two-Year-Old table since September when he won the Breeders Plate.

The Breeders Plate was run and won in particularly fast time, earning Performer a timefigure of 115, but the Canonbury proved a very different beast. On Saturday Performer returned a timefigure of just 85.

The Widden-winning filly Fiesta ran the same course ~4 lengths quicker but Performer comes away rated 115 by Timeform and at the top of Slipper betting while she is rated 105 and is available to back at about four times the price.

Intuitively, the marketplace - comprised of punters and dastardly bookmakers - makes Performer the far superior horse despite the overall times. A deeper look at the numbers shows that punters are intuitively very clever.

A bigger field for the Widden resulted in a much more competitive race early. The finishing speed (expressed as a percentage of overall race time) was 103.4% while Performer's finishing speed was 109.3%.

A timefigure of 85 might actually be a timefigure in the low 120's - that's Slipper-winning territory.

Fiesta was finishing quicker than par, and her overall time can be marked up somewhere in the range of a length, but Performer's finishing speed is sit up straight stuff.

A finishing speed of 109.3% over the Rosehill 1100m suggests that Performer could have run a time the best part of a dozen lengths quicker had he run his race more efficiently. A timefigure of 85 might actually be a timefigure in the low 120s - Slipper-winning territory.

Runner-up Stratosphere may have had the run of things from the front but he was still very good on debut and his finishing speed also points to him being capable of much better. Not nearly by as much as Performer, though, with the closing sectionals suggesting that a margin of nearly three lengths would have been a better reflection of the two runs.

Stratosphere is clearly very good - rated 106 by Timeform after just one trip to the races which is fairly rare air. If Performer was to beat him by the margin that those late closing splits suggest we again land on a rating in the low 120s.

The ducks are lining up. Performer looks sure to be Slipper competitive.

In Melbourne tongues were wagging for another smart filly from the Tony McEvoy Stable in Kinky Boom.

She was visually spectacular, but in a strongly run 1200m she was well-ridden and her timefigure of 98 looks a true reflection of her effort on Saturday. The big ticks are that she was strong in a genuinely run 1200m and only on debut.

Chairman's Stakes winner Ennis Hill outperformed Kinky Boom on the clock with a 102 timefigure which looks all the more impressive taking a fast closing speed into account. That also paints runner-up Encryption in a favourable light and it's not the first time that has been the case with the son of multiple Group 1-winning mare Guelph.

He's yet to win in three attempts but has been over 1000m exclusively to this point and looks almost certain to prove capable of better form when upped in trip.

Encyption is one that should be in the blackbook - you can add him here - as it would be a great surprise if he were to finish his two-year-old season without a nice win in the book.

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.