Hello Good Morning and Welcome
Cheltenham has provided some fabulous racing and wonderful entertainment all week and there can be few complaints from punters or connections. A lot of bookmakers might take exception to those sentiments but when did they ever have a divine right to win? The only sympathy I have for the racecourse bookies concern the horrendous expenses they have to stump up before they have even taken a bet. A lot of the Books used to routinely take a luxury holiday after Cheltenham but this year it will be more like Battersea than Barbados – Shame!!!!
The weather was fantastic with dry sunny conditions for the most part. I suggested tongue in cheek a couple of weeks ago, that the Clerk would give the going as good to soft and alter it after the course record went in the first. I was pretty close as the time of the Supreme Novices was some 5 seconds below standard. The jockeys reported the ground as perfect and it was a joy to see top class racehorse competing on superb ground without divots flying all over the place courtesy of false ground returned by over watering.
It was impossible to swerve the media frenzy surrounding Victoria Pendleton. All I will say is what a tremendous advert for the power of positive thinking. I appreciate that Betfair were subsidising the whole event to the tune of £200,000 and I don’t know how much of this stays in Vicky’s Purse. While that in itself is a powerful incentive, nevertheless you cannot fail to be impressed by how much optimism and confidence that the girl has continued to generate. If you get knocked down come back again. If you get knocked a hundred times just get back up and keep coming back – Don’t Ever Give In!!! What an inspiring insight into the character of a Winner.
Willie Mullins domination during the week by virtue of Winners as well as the sheer number of runners was incredible. Despite his phenomenal success Willie still has ambitions and objectives to achieve and will not be easing up in his quest. The art of training horses has never stood still down the years and it took a major step forward with the Interval Training Methods developed by Martin Pipe. Many an eyebrow was raised as Martin rattled up the winners and some dark doubts were circulated as to the dynamics behind the success. Naturally you can understand that the Nicolashayne outfit were reluctant to give the game away and there were some scurrilous enquiries from such as TV Presenter Roger Cook who suggested that cruel methods were being used to elicit that level of performance. When the details of the training methods finally started to filter out it became obvious that horses were being honed more like human athletes than farmyard animals. When Willie Mullins started to enter better horses at Cheltenham it was becoming pretty obvious to anyone who took the time to attend the pre parade and main paddocks at Cheltenham, that the Carlow runners were fit to an exceptional degree and that Mullins was training on another level again. That level of expertise has been enhanced ever since.
Having put up Vautour for the Gold Cup last week I suppose I have as much right to grizzle as anyone else at the decision to go for the Ryanair despite the assurances that he would go for the Blue Riband. The reasons and excuses for the option seemed to change with every version and just who was giving forth. While Connections have every right to change their mind they should always bear in mind that Punters provide the largest bulk of the prize money via the levy and should be respected accordingly. It left a sour taste and hopefully all involved will provide better PR next time around.
Some people might say that Vautour’s victory in the Ryanair justified the option to go for the race but I don’t think it proves anything. Vautour floated around and finished as fresh as paint. We hardly know any more about the son of Robin Des Champs than we did before regarding his ability to stay. The main reason for this is that the horse was never galloping flat out and never using up his gas to the same extent as his opponents. This brings us to the question of why some horses stay further than their breeding would suggest.
When I was a child I could never work out why a Marathon runner at the Olympics could run for two hours and ten minutes and look as if he could go again while athletes in the Two Hundred Metres would be heaving for air having run only a fraction of the distance. When I finally paid attention in my Biology Classes I began to learn the difference between Aerobic and Anaerobic Respiration. I have no intention to regurgitate the details of my School Lessons but students of racing need to bear in mind the effects and limits of physiology on athletic performance. Put as simply as possible, Aerobic effort in the human is the ability to run at speeds up to 12 Miles per hour for long distances without running into oxygen debt. Higher speeds require the body to use up oxygen in the muscles to finance the effort. The faster the speed the more quickly that oxygen is used up. Therefore sprinters use up gas very quickly while marathon runners can keep going so long as they don’t go too fast. The same applies to horses who can run for long distances so long as they don’t go too fast or they run into oxygen debt just like human athletes.
The watershed between Aerobic and Anaerobic efforts is sometimes known as the Steady State which is defined as “Activity that achieves a balance between the energy required by working muscles and the rate of oxygen and delivery for aerobic ATP production.”
The steady state varies in horses just as it does in human beings but the bottom line is that the better the horse the higher the steady state and the higher the state the less quickly the horse goes into oxygen debt and the further it stays in the race.
To sum up the better the horse the further it stays. We won’t know till next year if Vautour gets the trip of the Gold Cup. I will still be saying – Yes!!
After all that let me take a sip of water! The part of the race where this principle most applies is in the early stage. If a horse goes too quick it soon runs into oxygen debt and does not stay. If a horse can run closer to its steady state then the better the chance of getting home. Some form is false because if too many horses go too quick then runners coming off the pace can be flattered. Students of sectional time concentrate on the last three furlongs to see who went the quickest. I suggest looking at the first three to see where they went too quick to get a better feel for the form.
Flat Racing at The Curragh on Sunday.
No Rest For The Wicked!!!!!
Be Lucky and May The Gambling Gods Be With You.
Back next Saturday.
Chris Anzani Racing