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Sectional Debrief: QIPCO 1000 Guineas

8 May 2015

Simon Rowlands, Timeform's sectional times expert, casts his eyes through the QIPCO 1000 Guineas victory of Legatissimo.

The QIPCO 1000 Guineas has existed for over 200 years, and in that time only three winners of the race have been recorded as running faster than 1m36.0s, all of them in the last 10 years. This year’s winner, Legatissimo, goes in at number two on the all-time list with 1m 34.60s, surpassed only by Ghanaati (1m 34.22s) in 2009.

Record and near-record times are the product of circumstances and do not always signify a horse of superlative merit. Fast conditions are usually a prerequisite, and fast conditions – with little in the way of rain and a drying wind – prevailed on this occasion.

But, when all is said and done, Legatissimo’s time is a fast one in the way that really matters: in the context of her apparent ability and the other times recorded on the day. Indeed, her time suggests we may have seen something pretty special on Sunday.

For instance, it was fully 2.95s quicker than that recorded by Gleneagles in the 2000 Guineas 24 hours earlier, and that colt’s time compared well with others on the Saturday card.

It also requires a horse to perform efficiently to run close to the bounds of its ability, and sectional times – provided by TurfTrax for both days of the Newmarket Guineas Meeting – show that was the case here, not just for Legatissimo but for the only filly who made a real race of it with her, Lucida.

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Regular readers will recognise the finishing speeds of the first two (expressed in comparison to their average race speeds) as very close to the course-and-distance par of 99.7%. Something similar was also the case with the duo’s sectionals recorded at other junctures of the race.

The finishing speeds of the also-rans are slower than par and show that some of them went a bit too fast, at least for horses of their ability. Few fillies can run as fast as Legatissimo and Lucida did, and those that are asked to do so are likely to pay the price.

Both Legatissimo and Lucida were a few lengths off the pace when it was at its hottest before sweeping through. Lucida went on first but was mown down by Legatissimo, whose uphill final furlong of 12.36s is testament to just how strongly she was finishing. Lucida (12.65s) was not stopping, either.

Further back, Tiggy Wiggy gets marked up a length or two for helping to force that pace, and others from fourth to ninth get similar upgrades, but there should be no doubt that the two best fillies on the day came to the fore.

Before getting too carried away with simple comparisons with the 2000 Guineas time, it should be acknowledged that the first nine in the 1000 Guineas – all the way down to Terror – ran faster than Gleneagles’ mark: conditions really were markedly quicker on the Sunday than the Saturday.

That can also be seen – if not so markedly – in most of the other winning times.

All bar the two-year-old race won by Zebstar were two or three seconds quicker than races run over the same distances the day before. In relative terms, the most impressive times on Sunday – outside Legatissimo’s – were posted by Eastern Impact and by Marma’s Boy.

The latter, a 79-rated handicapper, ran quicker than had Jazzi Top in winning the listed Pretty Polly Stakes 35 minutes earlier. Electronic sectionals did not materialise for the Pretty Polly, but manual ones show that race resulted in a pretty slow finish. Jazzi Top promises to be at least useful but the form of this race may not be anything to write home about.

The other Group race on the card, besides the 1000 Guineas, saw Bragging get the better of Kleo in the Charm Spirit Dahlia Stakes. Sectionals show this race was run a bit on the steady side, though, even then, the older fillies still could not match the late speed shown by the principals in the fillies’ classic.   

Two races in to the 2015 QIPCO British Champions Series, and we have two good Guineas winners in The Form Book and on the clock. Sectional analysis approves of Gleneagles and Legatissimo also.