In this month’s article I present what are believed to be a first when it comes to par (standard) racetime charts: ones for the “new” Randwick track, as well as for the much maligned Kensington (Randwick Inner/All Weather) track and for the two new Sandown circuits, Lakeside and Hillside.

The new completely relaid track at Randwick opened for business on March 30 2002 with the running of three Group 1 races; the A.J.C. Derby, the Doncaster Handicap, the Galaxy, as well as a number of other blacktype races. Since then, well over 600 races have been run there and the charts on page 21 are based on those races.

It’s now over eight years since the second (inside) track at Randwick opened, the first meeting being run  on May 25 1996, when the track was known as Randwick Inner, then having a name change to Randwick All Weather, then in March 2001 to its current name of Kensington.

The “new” Sandown Lakeside circuit is very much akin to the “old” Sandown track, with the first meeting being held there on  January 25 2003, while the first meeting at the “new” Sandown Hillside circuit was on March 16 2003. Both circuits have held in excess of 250 races since opening; again the charts on page 21 are based on all of those races.

Overall, the charts are derived from close to 750,000 individual horse runs and over 90,000 races.

However, it must be pointed out that in some instances, not only with the Randwick and Sandown tracks, but with others as well, some of the par times are based on minimal data, particularly when it comes to wet track conditions.

There are many ways of using par time tables to good use, but they are not a selection method in their own right, more a useful tool that should be used as part of the overall form analysis.

The best way to use par time charts is for comparing performances on the day and at that track, taking into account favourable or unfavourable pace factors. Let’s consider a couple of examples:Dandy Kid was a 7yo having won over $575,000 in prizemoney from its 56 starts prior to running in a 1200m open handicap race at Moonee Valley on July 17 2004. As a 7yo it had not performed as consistently as it had earlier in its career and while having placed nine times in its last 25 starts, only one of those was a win.

However, eight of its 13 wins had been at 1200m, six of which occurred at Moonee Valley.  The key run was at its second-last start 21 days previously when it had started from a wide barrier, crossing to lead on settling, running a close second in slow track conditions over 1200m in a very good time of 73.51s: three lengths faster than the par time of 74.0s, with the last sectional time also being about one length faster than par. Going into the July 17 race it was starting from the inside barrier in a race that appeared (pre-race) to have little pace, looking a most suitable race from the points of fitness (6th up), pace and barrier.

The only surprise was that it drifted out from its opening price of $4 to $5.50, never being challenged in winning by a length-and-a-quarter in a time of 72.92s, which was over six lengths faster than par.

It takes a very special horse to consistently perform at the highest level when they get back in their races and I’ve no doubt that’s why Thorn Park will never go down in history as a champion racehorse, not even a modern day one of its time. In its seven starts in Group 1 company, it won just once, the Stradbroke Handicap, its last start before retirement.

Thorn Park had been performing well in lead-up races, winning the Group 2 BTC Cup at Doomben over 1200m in a very fast time of  68.72s (five lengths faster than par) some weeks earlier.

However, the key run was its previous start (prior to running in the Stradbroke Handicap) when it  finished fourth in the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 over 1350m, coming from last position at the turn, being ridden for luck along the rails, beaten just under two lengths in a time of 77.73s, only three lengths outside the track record of 77.21s. His last 600m time would have been one of the best (if not the best) of his career. This was a fit horse that had been once again disadvantaged by his “get back” style.

Normally Stradbroke Handicaps, with capacity fields, are run at a hectic pace with the off-pace, get back type advantaged – Toledo’s track record for the 1400m at Eagle Farm was set in the Stradbroke Handicap back in 1998, when it won from coming well back in the run, with Adam in 1999 being the only on-pace winner in the recent history of the race.

The 2004 race was no different with the run-on horses looking (pre-race) more likely to produce the winner and so it was with Thorn Park from barrier eight settling mid-field, producing an electrifying burst halfway down the straight to withstand the fast finishing Consular and St Basil, which both came from the last two positions at the turn. The winning time of 81.3s was approximately nine lengths faster than the par time of 82.87s for 1400m races at Eagle Farm. In this instance, we had a fit horse having its seventh run this time in, likely to get a favourable pace, coming from a suitable barrier.

By EJ Minnis