Champion trainer John Size once said that with a slow speed, trying to outsprint Beat The Clock was futile, and those words rang true as the master handler’s five-year-old dashed home to score the Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) on an action packed Champions Day on Sunday, April 28 at Sha Tin Racecourse.
The locals finished 1-2-3 in the HK$16 million event, with Beat The Clock a half-length ahead of the Richard Gibson-trained Rattan on the line while honest performer Little Giant held for third, a three-quarter length away.
The $1.8 odds-on favourite and highly-spruiked Australian raider Santa Ana Lane finished a visually disappointing fourth place, 2-1/4 lengths astern of the winner.
“He was probably off his game a little bit today so we’ll get home and regroup,” said Santa Ana Lane’s trainer Anthony Freedman. “They didn’t go a really good gallop, which didn’t suit us – he was a little disappointing.”
And indeed they didn’t go a good gallop.
Santa Ana Lane settled at the rear in a race which even the eye would tell you was a dawdle.
Daniel O’Sullivan from The Ratings Bureau took to social media on the Monday, April 29, giving context to how the race played out.
O’Sullivan’s data sample comprised of 58 1200m races, from Class 1 to Group 1s over the last seven years at Sha Tin.
He noted that speed to 800m ranked 53rd of 58 races, while speed to the 400m ranked 52nd of 58.
When it came to the closing sectionals, Santa Ana Lane, who ran the fastest last 800m and 400m of the race (albeit only 0.8 lengths faster than Beat The Clock over the final 800m and 0.3 lengths over the last 400m), posted the fourth fastest last 400m of 58 races.
In context, Chautauqua’s 2016 Chairman’s Sprint Prize race was: +6.9L faster to the 800m, +8.9L faster to the 400m and -7.6L slower in the last 400m.
Speed in Chairman's Sprint (re Santa Ana Lane)
vs 58 x 1200m races CL1 to G1 last 7yrs
* Speed to 800m ranked 53rd of 58 races
* To 400m ranked 52nd of 58
* L400m 4th fastest of 58 races
2016 Chautauqua's race:
+6.9L faster to 800m
+8.9L faster to 400m
-7.6L slower last 400m pic.twitter.com/p9JB0xbZap
— Daniel O'Sullivan (@TRBHorseRacing) April 29, 2019
So, with one of the slowest run races in the early stages within the last seven years, and given Santa Ana Lane’s position in running, it was a near impossible task to chase down the leading brigade, and, to no one’s surprise, the first five across the line all ran their final two furlongs in 21-something seconds.
While watching live from the 800m to the 400m, Size’s words post-last year’s Group Two Sprint Cup (1200m) began to emerge from this author’s memory bank: “slow speed…trying to outsprint Beat The Clock…futile…he is too fast when it comes down to a dash to the line.”