Watch and Learn: Graeme North’s Numbers Analysis

Our time numbers guru is back to reflect on Alpinista’s win in the Arc and the rest of the big race at ParisLongchamp.

The Arc weekend never loses its magic. Having been paired with an exchange student at school whose family lived on rue de Clichy in the heart of Paris and whom I visited several times a year, I got to know Paris and its racetracks very well from an early age.

Auteuil, just next to the Roland Garros stadium, remains my favorite French racecourse, although I was very impressed with Compiègne as well as the city when I visited a few years ago and I still have a soft spot for the vast expanse currently closed. de Maisons-Laffite if not the seemingly endless walk on the road that runs along the straight line of a kilometer and a quarter.

I had intended to return to Longchamp – or ParisLongchamp as it is now known since its facelift – this weekend for the first time in many years, but unfortunately had to change my plans a few months ago because I had to help renovate the mother-in-law’s house every weekend so that it could be rented out to partially cover her retirement home costs.

So, brush in hand, I had to settle for catching the action between the second and third coat, but what action it was!

The highlight of Saturday’s card, even before its remarkable outcome, was the Prix du Cadran, in which Kypriosa horse that would have been many people’s fantasy for the Arc had it raced in that race, began betting to extend its winning run.

My admiration for Galileo’s son grew over the season, but even so I was unprepared for what evolved. A 20-length victory in a group race in Europe is not unique – Alson won the Group 1 Criterium International by the same margin in 2019 – but André Fabre’s colt had only one rival to beat and no 11, of which four Timeform had ranked north of 115 entering the race.

Timeform does not release numbers for Longchamp because it is not easy to set precise standards when given races are held on four separate courses, but in my estimation, with the help of some universal standards and an understanding of the topography of the course, Kyprios probably ran a figure somewhere around the 115 mark, which with a small upgrade (using a universal finishing speed model fitted to the times that have been recorded at Longchamp since data from detailed section were sent back) suggests that his performance over the clock in a well -run race would not have been too far off from the 118 he returned in the Irish St Leger.

And all this despite the loss of an extra shoe! His victory means he is now the only horse in this century to have twice won a group race in Britain, Ireland or France by 14 lengths or more.

It’s very rare that I post a “thing” on Twitter but I made an exception on Saturday by expressing the opinion that Janna Flowera horse I mentioned in this column after his loss to the Prix du Cadran Quickthorn flop in the Prix Maurice de Nieuil in July, was quite a horse to be interested in for the first Group 1 of the day, the Prix de Royallieu over 2800m.

Jannah Flower should have won the Nieuil, running the last 600 meters four lengths faster than Quickthorn after having a lot to do, and it was easy to ignore her last run in a small-field crawl affair at Deauville. Frustratingly, given that she was sent off at 17/1, Jannah Flower once again found herself in a race that was not run at a good gallop, as evidenced by the fact that Sea La Rosa (who won this race in Deauville) ran in 36.1 seconds. 600m final section which was the second fastest win on the card.

It’s unclear whether Jannah Flower, who was still tugging her rider’s arms as they rode home, would have won closer to the pace, given her connections seem to think she’s a filly fit to be dropped, but she ran the same section more than half a second faster than Sea La Rosa. She comes out of it with a big enough upgrade to think she was an unlucky loser in a race again. The French handicapper will feel vindicated that the controversial rating he gave Verry Elleegant who saw her miss the Arc was the correct one.

According to my calculations, the time performance of the day occurred in the very popular Dollar Price where Anmaat edged out three-year-old home-trained Junko, whose penultimate outing at Al Hakeem was made even better the following day.

Anmaat got back on the line to maintain his unbeaten record this season and on the clock that probably improved his win (119) in the Group 3 Rose Of Lancaster Stakes last time out. Later in the afternoon, Yerevan more than confirmed his third place at Jacques le Marois with a landslide victory in the Prix Daniel Wildenstein. The race didn’t go at a gallop, which gave it a good old-fashioned upgrade, and overall its time performance doesn’t seem far off from the 122 Timeform that rated it.

Sunday’s race was much more difficult to interpret from a timing point of view, not only because of the rain which arrived before the Arc de Triomphe, but because three different tracks were used and large fields ensured the deterioration from the ground throughout the day.

The map started with Belbeck redeeming a reputation that had taken a hit after defeats in the Prix Robert-Papin and the Prix de Cabourg, clearly relishing the much softer surface he encountered here, but for me his compatriot and fellow two-year-old Blue Rose ran a little faster in the next race, the Prix Marcel Boussac, and probably deserves a time right up there with the best recorded by those of his gender this year.

A victory by a wide margin in this race is usually a precursor to Group 1 success the following year – double Finsceal Classic winners Beo and Zarkava immediately come to mind – and I have no doubt that Blue Rose Cen, whose margin of victory was the largest in the race of this century, is the real deal. The other juvenile winner on the card, The Platinum Queen, was probably not far from the figure of 111 that she published in the Flying Childers. Few have contested with seven horses running the last 600 meters faster than the winner according to tracking data. New York City, which ran this section the fastest of all as well as in some way the fastest last 200 meters, can be considered much better than the result of the whole race was the shadow of some previous renewals.

mountaineers The win in the Arc was well received in most quarters and was the best effort of his career, extending his Group 1 winning streak to six since starting at the hands of Torquator Tasso in the Grosser Preis Von Berlin in August 2021.

Torquator Tasso didn’t get things done that day, traveling much smoother than Alpinista only to get bumped and hemmed at the start of the short straight, and the 2021 Arc winner again received a bad hand against its old rival, drawn in the parking lot while Alpinista was moored near the inside rail in six.

This meant that Torquator Tasso covered a bit more ground than Alpinista – 6.98 meters according to tracking data, or over three lengths – so connections have a right against the things that have a right to feel aggrieved, he has finished third beaten under a length. Torquator Tasso ran the last 600 meters 0.39 seconds (or about 2 lengths) faster than the winner, but not as fast as Vadeni who ran this section fastest of all only for his runner Christophe Soumillon to lament – correctly in my opinion – that he must have used too much energy to reach the winner after getting caught behind the ‘wrong’ horse on the starting lap.

Al Hakeem, a horse I’ve mentioned several times in this column, has traveled and moved majestically a long way and he promises to be a top-class four-year-old next year. Grand Glory also ran a cracker given that she still only had one behind her, beaten about as far by Alpinista as the extra ground she covered. Data available via the France Galop site also revealed that Al Hakeem achieved the highest top speed during the race while the ever-late Mishriff had the lowest. This all adds up to a time-honoured performance that I would define as on par when upgrades are incorporated.

The first of the other Group 1 races on the programme, the Prix de L’Opéra, went to Carousel Square in an extraordinary way. Nashwa appeared to have won the regularly held contest as she was sent home at the start of the straight, but the eventual winner, who had been out since finishing behind second in the Prix de Diane, put in a final 600m assault from the bottom to close in on her home on much softer ground than she had encountered before.

My fantasy, the eye-catcher of the Prix Vermeille La Parisienne, pulled too hard without wide coverage on the track and is much better than that. The other Group 1, the Prix de la Forêt, did not uproot any trees on the counter either, and Kinross was way too good as expected.

The highlight of the National Clock over the weekend was Rohaan’s win in the John Guest Racing Bengough Stakes. He had several mentions in this column this year and finally got his ideal conditions at Ascot, a brisk pace on soft ground allowing him to return a figure of 116 by getting the better of two horses, Summerghand and Commanche Falls, who had also earned one of six stadium’s flagship handicaps earlier in the season.

The Royal Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes, the only Group 1 race at home last week, caused a shock as Fonteyn added to their roster win at York in May, although with the three winners at Group 1 level all below form and a winning figure of just 108, it looks potentially confusing.

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