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Charles Dickens obliterates the 2022 Hollywoodbets Cape Guineas field. (picture:  


South African racing intellect Jay August has analysed the sectional timing of the Grade 1 Hollywoodbets Cape Guineas and it reveals just how Charles Dickens separates himself from the rest and also enabled August to venture a prediction ahead of the much awaited L’Ormarins King’s Plate.  

Hollywoodbets Kenilworth on 2022 Guineas day was the venue for a second round of testing of a proposed new sectional timing system for the Hollywoodbets racecourses.
The below graph shows clearly that Charles Dickens wins the race through his superior section from the 600m mark to the 400m mark and also shows him maintaining superior sectionals all the way to the 100m mark.
The graph shows the normal occurrence of horses being at their slowest in the final stages.
The relative speeds between runners makes it look on video replays as if some of the horses are “flying” at the finish, but this is in fact an optical illusion.
This slowing-down-at-the-end phenomenon is accentuated at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth because it has a nine metre incline from the 650m to the finish.
“The main thrust of speed or acceleration, outside of the gate break, is usually the 600m to 400m section as can be seen in the chart,” says August.
August ascertained from the data made available to him that Charles Dickens and Cousin Casey were the only pair to accumulate eight sub six second 100m sections. Charles Dickens had five of those in the final 600m and Cousin Casey had four in the final 600m. 
August said, “They were also the only two horses to race at below an average 6s for each 100m section if one excludes the first section from a standing start. Cousin Casey may have exited the race with a slight dent to his reputation, but he nonetheless displayed superior ability to his rivals, but for the winner.”
He continued, “Money Heist put in a performance which perhaps belies his final position and marks him out as possibly better than his finishing position (6th). He managed four sub-6s 100m sections in the final 600m. Notwithstanding his racing at the rear, only a decent horse would manage this in a race of this class.”
Looking at the below chart, which shows pacemaker Canford Lights to be the only horse to have two 100m sections done in less than 5,5 seconds, August said, “The last column shows that those on the front end of this race managed sub-5.5s 100 segments, which is too fast in relation to the unfolding of the race and their own ability, and likely compromised their performance to varying degrees.”
Looking at the above two charts, he concluded, “To complete the 2022 Cape Guineas analysis, we can look at the finishing speed of each horse in the race. The 600m and 400m finishing times in the 2022 Cape Guineas, and their expression as percentages of overall time are shown – first two columns and last two columns in the chart above.”

“Note that only Charles Dickens, Cousin Casey, and Money Heist were capable of faster closing sections than their overall average race time. Longer term and with more sectional data we may be able to put Charles Dickens’ sub-24s final 400m into some perspective. A final sub-24s final 400m may just be very rare at Kenilworth given the steady climb to the finish.”

“All other horses were below 100% and thus unable to maintain their average speed into the close. On a flat surface with no undulations a horse will travel most efficiently from point A to point B at the same speed throughout, but for the opening acceleration from a standing start. This would imply that close to and just above 100% is most efficient. Two horses of varying ability can finish at close to efficiency, say 101%, and be many lengths adrift, with the good horse in a much faster time than the average horse, and yet both can still be said to have run efficiently.”
“On an undulating surface, however, with additional impediments (the turn, position in the race, the draw, the false rail, and other horses) each racecourse will have an implied most efficient path from A to B.”
“Only an analysis of long-term sectional data and a study of the pattern of winning will show punters what that is, and by reference to that standard, what the likely efficiency of running of each runner was. These are known as sectional pars in the language of speed ratings.”

“From anecdotal evidence collected by me over time, a closing section of ~103% to 104% is likely most efficient at Kenilworth. Hopefully in the future we will have enough accurate and official sectional data emanating from each racetrack to validate such anecdotal (and possibly wrong) assumption.”

Sectional timing was actually introduced in Cape Town around the turn of the century before being abandoned, which allowed August to compare the 2000m Queen’s Plate, won by the great Jet Master, to the 2022 Cape Guineas (see comparison chart below).

He concludes his comparison analysis by making the below points:

  1. Jet Master has none of the best 200m sections in his race. As he raced handily it is his racing efficiency that is evident not his superior acceleration.

2. Charles Dickens has three of the fastest 200m sections in the last 1000m of the Guineas, but he has raced from the back and has had to accelerate markedly to win his race.
3. Jet Master completes his race in 100.8% (finishing percentage to overall time from the 600m compared to overall race time) and 99% (final 400m), while Charles Dickens does so in 104.6% and 103.2% respectively.
4. I have pointed out previously that anecdotal evidence appears to support a finishing effort of around 103-104% at Kenilworth, but this can only be tested against long term sectional data which we do not have at present.
5. Jet Master records the 10th best 400m sectional in either race, the 5th best final section, while Charles Dickens records the best 400m section and the best final section.
A good horse can construct a win in whatever manner or style suits their attributes best. Horse Chestnut and Jet Master had high cruising speed, generally sat close to the pace, and extended that to the line. Despite running close to the pace Horse Chestnut had exceptional acceleration off an already high cruising speed, hence his ability to put many lengths between himself and the opposition.
Charles Dickens appears more in the mould of a Sea Cottage, happy to sit towards the rear and use superior acceleration in the 600m to 200m sections of the race, then continue that through to the finish. Running off the pace and at the back induces risk, something Sea Cottage found to his detriment in all four of his defeats. Even the gift of superior acceleration does not always suffice to give victory in a race where traffic problems could arise, but as Sea Cottage also showed in his 1967 Champion Stakes win, he was quite capable of sitting just off the pace and surging clear to the finish – he won that race by 9 lengths. Charles Dickens could likely do much the same if allowed to race more handily.
Jet Dark, Charles Dickens’ main protagonist in the upcoming King’s Plate, appears to be more comfortable with the come-from-behind style of racing. The King’s Plate is likely a smallish field and it is unlikely that either horse will find too much by way of traffic problem. Jet Dark is one of the best wfa horses to have run in SA in the past decade, and Charles Dickens will get a serious test of his ability on 7 Jan. With a sub-23s 400m section of 22.60s in the Guineas, Charles Dickens appears to have remarkable acceleration. Few horses are likely to be able to run sub-23s 400m sections over 1600m at Kenilworth, and win.
Come 7 Jan 2023 we shall hopefully know for sure what remarkable ability lurks in the Charles Dickens engine. Or we may once again marvel at Jet Dark’s ability to always win this class and type of race.

Which will it be?