How do you tell if an All Weather track is riding fast? Well, how about when all 5 races on the card dip below the standard time and you get some very high ratings from the performances despite the relatively low grade racing on offer? That's exactly what happened in Madrid on Thursday evening where all of the races were run in fast times and despite the fact that the kickback undoubtedly worked against some of those given a more patient ride, horses who were sent forwards did not seem to slow down in the closing stages despite setting extremely fast fractions. I've watched all of these races a couple of times in order to try to get a better handle on the form as the official ratings and recent form of the winners do not suggest that we should be getting such high ratings. My only conclusion is that the track is riding so fast at present, which the results of the other meetings in July and August also support. As a result, all of this form needs to be treated with caution, especially if these horses switch to the turf on their next starts.
Let's use the opening race as a working example. This was an amateur riders contest for horses who have won less than €6,500 this year. Uninspring stuff on paper, yet the winner, Barbado, has run a rating of 117.5 with 71-kilos on his back. He is a fair type and has won 4 times in Spain, including 2 of his last 8 since he switched to the Onaya yard, but he isn't a superstar by any means. He raced prominently and was sent for home with 3-furlongs to run but was still able to hold on and record a time of 1:14.09. I have put a link to the replay below, but whilst I have huge admiration for amateur riders, it is fair to say that the second placed Alboran may well have won the race if given a more forceful ride in the closing stages. Equally, the 5th and 6th placed horses (Correcaminos and Borondon) are easily forgiven their defeats here as they were given patient rides and faced the worst of the kickback. Either way, the bare form needs to be treated with a lot of caution as none of the 6-runners have shown form that suggests they are capable of running to such high levels and it will be interesting to see how all of this form plays out in the coming weeks as the weather changes.