In the November issue of PPM I started to talk about the three elements that ?define the stamina content of any given horse race, namely: distance, going and field size. The article maintained that two very important outcomes could be formed from close analysis of these three elements:

  1. The elements of distance, going and field size combine together to set the stamina condition of a race.
  2. Each element’s contribution is equal and none of them takes precedence over the other.

The inter-relationship between all the three elements creates a single environment. If a horse wins a race then it begins to define the stamina contest that it enjoys most with some precision. This means, in effect, that labelling an animal by distance alone (as most people in racing are apt to do) is a little too one-dimensional.

This is because the “pull” exerted by the other two elements gives a horse’s win a three-dimensional quality to it. This win can be used to uncover, relatively easily, other conditions where the horse can also win. It is important to note that a horse’s form is best interogated once it has begun to clock up a number of wins.

Once a history of form has clocked up then you can start to define a horse’s best winning conditions with greater accuracy. As a consequence I prefer to analyse horses that are post-autumn three-year-olds and older, as two and three-year-old horses need to be treated slightly differently.

The argument I put forward in “The Elements of Stamina in a Race – Part 1”, ?is that, once you have the details of an actual win, you can take this piece of form and begin to mess around with it in a hypothetical way. Just like picking up a piece of plasticene and reshaping it into something else.

While you can shape plasticene in different ways its mass will always remain constant. The analogy here is that, if you have the conditions of a real win to use, then you can reshape this win, in hypothetical ways, into seemingly different conditions. However, the stamina factors of the win will always remain constant.

To hypothetically manipulate a horse’s win you will need to follow some basic rules, so the following rules apply when manipulating form:

  1. Adjustments of distance are made in increments (or decrements) of 200m (400m for long races).
  2. Adjustments of going are made by adjusting the track rating once along the scale of Fast, Good, Dead, Slow and Heavy – Example: ?1 adjustment = Changing the rating from Good to Dead. Another example: 2 adjustments = Changing the rating from Good to Dead then from Dead to Slow.
  3. Adjustments of field size are made by increments (or decrements) of 25 per cent.

1 adjustment = A 25 per cent increment (to increase the stamina factor) or 1 adjustment = A 25 per cent decrease in field size (to decrease the stamina factor).

This means:

(a) Increasing or decreasing distance should be made in increments (or decrements) of 200m in races of 2400m or less.

(b) Increasing or decreasing distance should be made in increments (or decrements) ?of 400m in races above 2400m.

A change in track condition (by 1 rating) is equal to an increment (or decrement) of 200m in races of 2400m or less (or 400m in races of 2400m or more).

An increase in field size of 25 per cent is equal to either:

  • Softening of track condition by 1 rating; ???OR
  • An increase of distance by an increment of 200m in races of 2400m or less (or 400m in races of 2400m or more).

A decrease in field size of 25 per cent is equal to either:

  • 1 increment towards a drier track condition; OR
  • A decrease of distance by a decrement of 200m in races of 2400m or less (or 400m in races of 2400m or more).

I admit that these rules make awkward reading but they will make sense to you once we try to put them into practice. In other words, it’s easier to understand if you check out the next example.

“A hypothesis is a statement whose truth is temporarily assumed but whose meaning is beyond all doubt.” ?Albert Einstein

OK, you’ll remember from the last issue that I started out by plucking an imaginary win from out of the air and messing around with it using the rules stated above. To run through it again let’s assume, as an example, that the following conditions were the best winning conditions of an imaginary horse (in order of distance, field size and going):

DistanceField SizeGoing
2000m12 runnersGood
(won by less than 0.2 lengths)
If I take this data and, hypothetically, increase its distance by 200m (while keeping the track rating constant), then, to maintain the stamina conditions of the horse’s best winning conditions, this would happen:

DistanceField SizeGoing
2000m12 runnersGood
2200m9 runnersGood
2400m6-7 runnersGood
You can see that I’ve reduced the field size by 25 per cent while the distance is increased through each movement.
But, if I go back to my starting point of [2000m, 12 runners, Good] and decrease the distance then, if the win is to maintain the same stamina conditions, this would happen:

DistanceField SizeGoing
2000m12 runnersGood
1800m15 runnersGood
1600m18-19 runnersGood
This time I’ve had to increase the field size by 25 per cent while the distance is decreased through each movement.

If I go back to my starting point of [2000m, 12 runners, ?Good] and soften the track condition by 1 rating (while keeping the distance at 2000m), then to maintain the stamina conditions of the horse’s best winning conditions, this would happen:

DistanceField SizeGoing
2000m12 runnersGood
2000m9 runnersDead
As I’ve had to decrease the track rating from Good to Dead I’ve also had to ?decrease the field size by 25 per cent in order to maintain the horse’s best winning conditions.

Incidentally, the legendary punter Don Scott used to say that “any advantage or disadvantage could be expressed in terms of weight”. You’ll have noticed that next to my starting point of [2000m, 12 runners, Good] there was the proviso “won by less than 0.2 Lengths” in brackets after it, which implies that the winning conditions were quite exact.

This means that if a horse wins by a number of lengths then each length can be equivalent to an increment of either Distance, Going or Field Size. This means a horse wins by a wide margin then the greater flexibility a horse will have to win in alternative scenarios.

As a general rule-of-thumb, distance, going and field size adjustments can also be expressed in the following way:-

  • Adjusting Distance by 200m = 1.5kg (or 1 length)
  • Adjusting Going by 1 track rating = 1.5kg (or 1 length)
  • Adjusting Field Size by 25 per cent = 1.5kg (or 1 length)

“Pure Gold is recognised by testing” Leonardo da Vinci. What I’m about to do next to is to pick on a familiar horse and pick apart its form in the hope that we can see examples of the propositions outlined earlier. I will not try to focus on all of the horse’s form but instead I will just look at a segment of it.


Finishing Position and Field SizeWinning MarginDistance   
Racetrack LocationTrack Condition
09.09.061/12 0.11550G2WFAKENSHEAVY?
--- 126 DAY SPELL ?---
25.03.061/111.0 2000G1WFARHILSLOW
11.03.062/90.11600G1WFAWFMGOOD ??
11.02.068/12 4.91200G2WFARHILGOOD
Eremein should be familiar to most people and this segment of his form is taken from when he returned to the racetrack in the Expressway Stakes on February 11, 2006 up until his run in the Hill Stakes at Rosehill on September 23, 2006. Eremein had already established himself as an excellent 3yo winning the Rosehill Guineas and the AJC Derby so we knew we were dealing with a Group 1 galloper but it was only his run in the Chipping Norton on the March 11, 2006 that told us he was back in business as a 4yo after a spell through injury. The Chipping Norton run was subsequently followed by a one length win in the Ranvet Stakes on the March 25, 2006 on a Slow track.

It’s here that I’d like to start. His win in the Ranvet could have been used to see if he would be suited to his next task – the BMW (2400m). I’ll start with the bald details of his Ranvet win and begin with changing the track condition from Slow to Good but keeping the distance set at 2000m:

DistanceField SizeGoing
2000m11 runnersSlow
2000m15-16 runnersDead
20000m19-20 runnersGood
If I’m to to keep the same stamina condition for Eremein at 2000m on Good ground then the field size will have to move through two increased increments of field size (each a 25 per cent increase) to counteract the two increments of track condition from Slow to Dead and from Dead to Good. However, if I change this scenario into a BMW scenario, by lengthening the distance and keeping the track condition at Good, then this will mean that the field size will have to decrease to keep the stamina condition at the same level.

DistanceField SizeGoing
2000m19-29 runnersGood
2200m15-16 runnersGood
2400m11 runnersGood
We can now see that Eremein’s win in the Ranvet conditions had stated that he would be ideally suited the conditions presented to him in the BMW as the two wins are a virtual match in terms of their stamina condition. He did, of course, win by a slightly further margin in the BMW as Eremein had a 0.5kg weight drop.

When Eremein returned for the QEII at Randwick on April 22 we find that the QEII’s stamina conditions had changed to 2000m, Good and 9 runners. Eremein succeeded here but it’s noticeable that his winning margin was reduced to 1?2 a length.

When Eremein returned for the spring his first-up performance in the Warwick Stakes was typical of a stayer resuming from a spell and he duly finished 4th. The following win in the “Chelmsford” over 1550m was interesting because, as you’ll see, the Heavy ground created a similar stamina condition to the Ranvet and BMW (but for the Dead ground). We’ll assume the Chelmsford is 1600m for ease of calculation. Watch how a few “turns of the wheel” create a familiar stamina contest for Eremein.

DistanceField SizeGoing
1600m12 runnersHeavy
1800m9 runnersHeavy
2000m9 runnersSlow
2000m12 runnersDead
The point I’ve made here is that the Chelmsford conditions seemed to me to be a match for the stamina condition of the Ranvet and BMW – bar the Dead ground conclusion I arrived at. If I reproduce the clause “Adjust Going by 1 track rating = 1.5kg (or 1 length)” then I could dry the track condition of [2000m, 12 run, Dead] by 1 increment to make [2000m, 12 runners, Good] at a cost of 1 length, so that the winning margin of 1 – 1.8 lengths made in the Ranvet/BMW would be cut to a much smaller winning margin. I postulated that it would be close but I didn’t think it would be THAT close (Newton’s Rings performance went in the black book of course!).

Through this exercise it became apparent to me that Eremein would be vulnerable in Group races at distances under 2000m on dry tracks in small fields – and so it proved in the Hill Stakes. The Hill Stakes was run at 1900m on Good with seven runners.

I felt that these conditions could be quite accessible to horses with G1 1600m form in biggish fields. Desert War fulfilled the criteria for me and Eremein was opposed. Desert War duly stepped up to take the race with a front-running ride by Larry Cassidy. Eremein lost (at odds-on) through no other reason than not having the stamina conditions he required.

I alluded in the November PPM that both Dane Ripper’s and Makybe Diva’s Cox Plates had some points worth noting. Firstly, I hinted that Dane Ripper’s 1997 Cox Plate should not necessarily have been the 40/1 shock that it was and that, secondly, Makybe Diva might not have won the Cox Plate had conditions in October 2005 been only slightly different. Let’s take a quick look at them.

Dane Ripper offered a vast clue to her potential in 2000m races when she ?succeeded in an 18 runner Stradbroke Handicap on a Slow track. We’ll lay the winning conditions out in simple terms and then get to work on them.

DistanceField SizeGoing
1400m18 runnersSlow
If I manipulate this win we’ll see how closely it equates to the 2040m Cox Plate conditions she ran in. I’ve quickened the process so that on each line a rise in distance is countered by an equivalent drying of the track, until the 1800m line where, on the final line, I lengthen the distance again but reduce the field size (keeping the track constant at Good).

DistanceField SizeGoing
1400m18 runnersSlow
1600m13-14 runnersDead
1800m10-11 runnersGood
2040m8-9 runnersGood
As you can see, the conditions of her Stradbroke match her Cox Plate conditions almost exactly. All that had happened between the Stradbroke and the Cox Plate (causing people to doubt her) was that she didn’t meet the stamina conditions she needed on each run (apart from the win she made directly after the Stradbroke).

As far as Makybe Diva is concerned I’d mentioned that the Slow track and big field on her Cox Plate day had merely made life incredibly easy for her. If it had been raced in conditions like Dane Ripper’s (2040m, eight runners, Good – like a lot of Cox Plates) then things may have been very different and if she had had barrier 8 and Fields Of Omagh had barrier 3 then she may well have lost. A lot of “ifs” there I know, and I hasten to add that this is not to undermine the greatness of the “Diva”, but I’m trying to make the point that even the great horses can be undone if you don’t give them what they need to win.

There are countless other examples I could cite to highlight the points made in both parts of “The Elements of Stamina in a Race” but I’m sure I won’t need to go into them for you. I hope you’re getting the ideas put forward in these articles but I’m aware too that the method I have put forward here is quite cumbersome to get to know.

I would suggest that you look up the form of any horse you like to see if you can link up the wins in the ways I suggest (try Intergaze, Show A Heart, El Segundo . . . the list goes on). I can assure you, however, that the more you practice manipulating a horse’s wins to see what other scenarios it can win at, then the easier the process will become. After a while analysing form in this way will give you a pretty clear idea as to whether a horse will have the necessary stamina to meet the conditions of its next race.

NEXT MONTH: Analysing two and three-year-old form through the prism of Distance, Going and Field Size.

Click here to read Part 3.
Click here to read Part 1.

By Julian Mould