THERE were racing fans watching Saturday’s G1 Cape Guineas at Kenilworth that didn’t even know that one-time winning, 95-rated Russian Rock was a runner!
Reputations were dented and the formbook was turned wholly upside down when the 100-1 shot beat 30-1 chance Linebacker in a close finish.
There is arguably not a single racing fan, or expert tipster, alive, that gave the winner any kind of chance in a season in which the three-year-old crop has been regarded as “way above average” by most touts – and perhaps four of 14 runners were given realistic chances of winning.
This result proves that either 1) it is indeed a way above average crop – a 100-1 shot (on form) came through to beat way more accomplished rivals, proving the depth of ability of this season’s classic contenders; or 2) it is actually a poor crop and it’s pie in the face for all!
Whatever the case may be, let us all remember that in racing, we never stop learning. This is, intellectually, the most challenging pastime known to man. Breeding, training or selecting winners is not a science that man or robot will ever conquer!
Below is leading South African racing researcher Jay August’s take on the mesmerising Cape Guineas result:
“The 2020 Cape Guineas represents a riddle which will need untangling to explain the result, more pertinently the time!
“The official race time is the slowest since 2005 which is in contrast to the 1600m races run last week and not in keeping with the 1800m races run just before and just after the Guineas.
“The Guineas has an average 100m time slower than either of those three races. Based on the two 1800m feature race times the Guineas should have been run in ~98.4s.
“One can therefore conclude that one of the following is likely to evidence the slow time, in order of likelihood:
1 – The official time is wrong.
2 – The pace was very slow. Visually that appeared to be the case as Seeking The Stars did not appear to accelerate on the turn as he had done in his two previous starts. Backing this up is the last horse finishing only 7.75 lengths behind.
3 – The headwind increased dramatically during the running of the race, which caused the dramatic slowdown in average 100m time compared to the races over 1800m.
4 – The actual distance covered was not 1600m but further – around 1650m. Given how easily false rails cause this problem in the UK, and given that nobody questions same in SA, it would not be beyond comprehension that the gates were placed incorrectly.
5 – The going for the 1600m section was much slower than that for races on the turn and over further.” (Photo by Wayne Marks).