Reading between the lines - the Golden Mile....

Last Updated: 08.08.2018

Wednesday, 8th August 2018

Reading between the lines – the Golden Mile….

Plenty of punters make the draw their first port of call when it comes to analysing a big-field handicap – whether it’s run up a straight or around a bend....

Fair enough, it’s not where I start. But each to his own and when you’re looking for an angle into a race, I can’t argue with the theoretical logic of studying the starting position on the track of each contestant....

It seems simple obvious and straightforward. But in practice, it frequently fails to work out that way....

  • A case in point....

Take last week’s Golden Mile at Goodwood for example – a big-field handicap run around the right-handed Goodwood bend....

Common sense tells you that those drawn out wide in the high numbers are at a logical disadvantage....

If they don’t expend some early effort to get across and adopt an inside position, they’re going to be trapped out wide and cover more ground than the others....

And even if they do make that early effort, track across and get to the front, the energy the invest in doing so can put them at a disadvantage later in the race when that energy – already spent – might be much-needed....

Both Original Choice (drawn in stall 17) and Cape Byron (drawn in stall 18) appeared to be up against it.

Yet both hit the frame – Original Choice in 3rd and Cape Byron in 4th....

  • A smart ride.... 

Original Choice was able to overcome his apparent disadvantage courtesy of a fine ride from James Doyle....  

Doyle didn’t go hell-for-leather straight from the gate. Instead he played it cool, choosing to track across gradually behind runners and before they were through the first furlong he was on the rail – albeit behind plenty of runners....

One thing Doyle knew was this that his horse would be strong at the end of a hard-run mile – or at least that he should be....

He’d stayed 10f at the track just a couple of days before and if the Golden Mile wasn’t coming too soon on the back of that effort, Doyle could be relatively confident that his horse would still be scrapping away in the closing stages over the shorter 8f trip....

In short, Doyle was able to make a smart gamble. He could concede ground to gain position early-doors (which he did) and then look to his mount’s stamina to come into play late-on....

Doyle was patient again in the straight. He needed plenty to go right coming through horses on the inside. But he didn’t panic. He waited for the gaps to appear....

Escobar with Danny Tudhope up had been ahead of Original Choice on the inside most of the way. Doyle was tracking him. And Escobar was certainly positioned to get the first run on the Haggas horse....

But where Doyle was patient and held his line, waiting for the gaps to appear, Tudhope was impatient and pulled his horse out in a bid to find more room.

His impatience cost him. Once pulled-out, he found nothing but trouble and interference and was denied his run. Doyle and Original Choice were able to run into the space he’d vacated and eventually swept up his inside and with a clear run at the line....

Good work, James Doyle. Smart jockeyship enabled a poorly-drawn horse to get competitive anyway. A smart jockey can overcome adversity....

You might want to watch it!

Whilst reading today’s column, you might find it useful, instructive and/or interesting to watch the Golden Mile again yourself. The article might make more sense....

If you’re an online Racing UK subscriber or a subscriber to the Racing Post website, you can access the race in their online race archives....

Another option is to watch the race on the Sporting Life website. They have an archive of races too. And it’s free to access and watch – no limits....

You can access re-runs of races on their results pages. For example, the result page for the Golden Mile is here. You’ll find the video of the race at the bottom of the page....

One catch: you’ll need a Sky Bet account to log in with. But that’s small price to pay. And you never have to place a bet with them. Just signing up for the account is enough to satisfy the T&Cs of accessing videos of races on the Sporting Life website....

  • A different story....

It was a different story with Cape Byron under Andrea Atzeni from stall 18....

He was out of the stalls and going just that bit quicker than Original Choice in the very early stages of the race....

Because he was going that bit quicker, he found traffic on his inside and whilst Atzeni clearly wanted to get across and closer to the inside rail, he was unable to do so....

As a result, Cape Byron was trapped out wide – three-deep – for the entirety of the race. He was covering more ground than Original Choice and the others who were positioned closer to the rail – a real disadvantage....

Atzeni asked him to make his run 2-furlongs from home and widest of all – which meant he saw plenty of daylight probably a bit sooner than ideal....

But it didn’t stop him making putting in a cracking effort and making up plenty of ground in the final furlong....

  • Down to the horse....

And he wasn’t beaten far.... 

Had he not travelled the extra distance out wide then you could certainly make the case that he would have been closer still....

It was an eye-catching performance from the horse despite adversity. And probably more down to the ability of the horse than to anything his rider did....

In short, you can mark Cape Byron up on his 4th-placed effort. He had been gelded before the Goodwood race and on the evidence of that run he looks to be improved for the procedure....

He’s up to a mark of 100 going forward. But the way he ran at Goodwood, you would be hard-pressed to make the case that he can’t go in off that three-figure rating....

He’s not been overly used this term. He’s only raced eight times in total. There should be plenty left in the tank for the remainder of the season....

But connections won’t want to be hanging about with the 4yo. He’s a better horse on good than soft and connections will want to capitalize on him before the ground turns....

I’m adding him to the Watch List....

  • The last word….

That’s all from me for today.

I’ll be back tomorrow.

Until then. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd