This afternoon Kingston Hill attempts to get his season back on track in the Voltigeur stakes at York after three unsuccessful attempts in top company. His trainer Roger Varian clearly has a high opinion of him and for what it’s worth so have I. I was particularly struck by his performance in the Derby where he was disadvantaged by the pace, lying up with what was probably a far too frantic early part of the race. This seems to be the story of Kingston’s season so far. In the Derby they seemed determined not to get too far off the pace as they did in the Guineas and then in the Eclipse the pendulum swung the other way when one or two of them appeared to give the leaders too much rope. If he gets it right today his form should make him an odds on shot.
This leads nicely into the question of how do pace disadvantaged horses do generally. To test this I looked at the flat handicaps from 1999 to 2008. If you check yesterdays pace figures on the Smartersig web site you will see that the pace figures for the first four home in each race are given. Using this method I looked for races where a lone prominent horse had maintained a first 4 finishing place despite the presence of 3 hold up horses in the first 4 slots. The idea here is that any horse running prominently and not finishing out of the money despite a hold up horse favoured race may be worth noting next time out in a similar handicap.
The results suggested that this is the case. There were 2652 bets at all prices resulting in a loss of only 8.5% to bookmaker SP from 398 winners at an average price of 7.79/1. This kind of average price should be yielding a 17% loss or thereabouts.
Hopefully Kingston will get his season back on track today, he looks the right type for the Arc and with cut would have a squeak at big odds.