Friday saw the opening card of the Autumn season at Auteuil. If you have been regularly following this blog you will know that I have been developing a series of data models and speed ratings systems to try to put some more context to the form and this is the first post that will cover the racing at Auteuil. It has taken several years of study and data collection to get to this point and it probably still needs a little refinement, but hopefully you will find these posts useful when studying the French form. As I have previously discussed, I am not yet able to apply the Ratings algorithm to the Chases (primarily because of the rail movements that occur throughout the year), but I will still publish the time comparisons for those races to use as a guide. For the hurdle races, I will publish the ratings that I have recorded and how they compare across the card as well as any additional notes that I think are worthy of publication.
Let's start with a couple of pieces of "housekeeping". The going was officially described as Very Soft, with a reading of 4,0 on the penetrometer. However, every race had a final circuit time that was below the course average, including both of the 3-year-old Claiming hurdles and the 3-year-old Chase, which would suggest that it was probably faster than advertised. The second point relates to the 3-year-old Claiming hurdle won by Minotor des Mottes, which was race 7 on the card. The published time for this race is 3:57.46, which is incredibly slow, almost 28-seconds slower than the course standard. However, this appears to relate to the time the starter drops the flag (he is out of camera shot so I cannot confirm this), but if you time the race from the point that the horses raise to a trot, you get a final time figure of 3:42.20. Whilst it may seem a minor point, in 3-months time when we come to review this form at the end of the season, it may be overlooked.
The time comparisons and the ratings for the Hurdles races can be found above and as you can see from the figures, it is the opening race, the Listed Prix des Platanes that needs the most attention. This was the fastest 3-year-old hurdle that I have recorded this year. To try to put this into context, Jigme is the highest rated 3-year-old in France and they ran a faster time today than he did in the Prix Aguado in May, despite the fact that they ran over 100-meters further. I was keen to see how the Emmet Mullins trained Malbay Madness would fare on his hurdles debut. He had won a Galway handicap on the Flat on a mark of 78 and his connections had followed a similar path with McTigue last year and clearly had similar plans in mind, but he was taken off his feet at halfway and never figured (even if going wide in the back straight didn't help his cause). Light Wave had been running fast times at La Teste and Royan, but the better ground in the South often allows horses to run good times and this was a career best effort from him. Huge credit needs to go to the winner, but also the early pace setter Henri Quatre, who eventually finished 4th, the second Sultan Pierji who chased the winner home and the lightly raced Charme More, who ran a massive race to finish 3rd on just his second career start. After putting in such a big set of numbers, this race may well leave a mark on some of the runners, but if any of them arrive in the same form next time, they will be very hard to beat,
The time comparisons for the Chase races can be found above, which include the final circuit times and sectional breakdowns between the last 3 obstacles and the finishing line. I don't have too many opinions to voice on these races but in my "Horses to Watch" piece I highlighted the claims of Super Gino as a well-handicapped horse and I will stick to that belief despite his 3-length defeat in the Handicap chase for the older horses. He travelled like a well-handicapped horse and although he tired that can probably be put down to the 4-month absence he had following a fall here in May. He should come on for this run and I expect him to be able to take advantage of his current mark in the weeks ahead.