Photograph: Gavin Macleod. Newton Power (JP van der Merwe) and Road To Dubai (Francie Herholdt) fighting out the finish
Let’s have a bit of fun – and talk about Merit Ratings. Most of the time I try to avoid thinking about them (bad for blood pressure) but with no preconceived ideas will check out who got what after the last race meeting.
Starting with the Castle Tankard where the horses finishing in the first five were Rock The Country (MR 84), Mathematician (MR 88), Windigo (MR 79), Eurakilon (MR 95) and Flax (MR 112).
The winner, Rock The Country, went up by 8 points to 92; Mathematician is now on MR 94 (plus 6); Windigo is rated MR 88 (plus 9); Eurakilon remains on MR 95, and Flax (fifth) on 112. Can’t criticise that too much, I suppose, but Mathematician, a three-year-old, has only won three races to Rock The Country’s and Eurakilon’s seven wins apiece. The cost of winning two legs of the Triple Crown, no doubt.
I cannot resist mentioning Merhaba here. His last start was in the Tankard where he set the pace, finishing second to last. He went into the race on 72 and has now dropped to 69.
Like Mathematician Merhaba won both the SA Bloodstock 2000 and the Zimbabwe Derby in 2015. His next outing was in the OK Grand Challenge (index figure 88 the same as he had for the Derby) and he finished 10th, 6.25 lengths behind Yer-Maan. Sad to relate Merhaba has not won a race since.
The first feature on Sunday’s card was the 1000m TBA Sales Stakes won easily by Wylde Style, who has triumphed in two of her three starts. According to the race card none of the runners went into this race with a Merit Rating – regardless of whether they had won a race or not.
Wylde Style, the winner, and Determination (third) are rated 72, the filly Jinx Johnson (second) is on 67, while Lady Carina (fourth) is on 70. The minor placed horses have all won once. Those who ran unplaced in the Sales Stakes come in at 56 (Rebel Soldier and Cream And Honey, a winner), or 66 – Devil In Command and Rhythmical Reply, also a winner.
Now let’s look at a couple of Maiden Plates …and I promise I haven’t checked out the ratings – yet. Supa Wonder won the 1000m Maiden Plate followed by Sulawesi (three parts of a length back), Nemba Beach (2.75) and Piece Of Pizzaz (8.75).
Supa Wonder was having his second start and is now rated 60, the first-timer Sulawesi has not been given a rating, Nemba Beach has gone up to 49 from 47, while Piece Of Pizzaz drops to 45 from 47.
The 1800m Maiden Plate was a thriller with Standpoint getting up to beat front-running Barbarian by a whisker. This was Barbarian’s first race at Borrowdale Park. He had four starts in South Africa for two places and was rated 72. Standpoint had previously raced three times in Harare for one place and a rating of 57. And there’s sure to be many reasons for that seeming discrepancy such as a recently imported South African horse etc.
In a Maiden Plate index figures don’t matter anyway – but it would if these horses met in a handicap. Believe it or not Standpoint has been raised by one point to 58 – Barbarian stays on 72.
To conclude this somewhat uninteresting exercise we will take a peek at the MR 90 Handicap over 1200m where Newton Power, receiving 1 kg, beat Road To Dubai by half a length, followed by Tamarind (1.25), Approval Rating (1.50 lengths back carrying 63 kgs), and Picalilly (2.25).
Newton Power goes from 82 to 85 and Road To Dubai from 84 to 86. Both are seven-time winners. Two-time winner Tamarind who finished third, and was having his first start at Borrowdale, goes up by two to 74, while poor old Approval Rating stays on 96 and Picalilly on 89.
The real winners here were probably the also rans. Atso’s Scheme and Gentle Brook dropped two points and The Mutineer and Carla The Rebel dropped one.
Those of you who are so inclined can now spend a couple of hours looking for my mistakes. Have never been too good with figures!