On yesterday’s website story I wrote of the “pathetic” run of Scissor Kick last Saturday in the Stan Fox Stakes at Rosehill, as whilst he was indeed three wide the trip with no cover, that aspect single-handedly is not necessarily an excuse for a racehorse to put in a seemingly poor run.

So in the first instance it may well be totally irrelevant whether a racehorse is travelling 1) hard up against the fence, 2) two wide, or 3) three wide, in a race around a one turn or a number of turns. And whether that horse that is stuck three wide with no cover can use that fact as a legitimate reason for his or her beaten effort, or as a legitimate reason for his or her winning effort being amazing, is totally dependent on solely one aspect – the speed of the race. It’s just a no brainer that the horse stranded out three wide in a fast run race around one or more turns is disadvantaged, but there are numerous situations where being caught wide without cover is of little or no consequence and may in fact be beneficial to the horse’s chances. And some of those reasons may be:

1 – a slowly run race will allow the horse out three wide with no cover to position itself up on the pace which should be beneficial when the sprint goes on. Would you prefer your horse to be three wide with cover up on the pace as the horses arrive at the home turn, or tenth in traffic back on the fence? Ask Gai Waterhouse how many stable winners she’s achieved by making sure her horses are in the former category.

2 – if you think about it logically, the jockey on the horse out three wide gets the opportunity to help dictate the slow pace of the race, as if the leader and the horse two off the fence are content to walk them along, the jockey on the horse out three wide holds all the aces, as he can make the two to his or her inside either 1) go faster in a heartbeat by letting his horse run quicker, or 2) continue to go slow for as long as he likes by putting no pressure on them.

3 – by a jockey sitting three wide without cover, no other jockey back in the field is likely to make a forward move, or they’d have to take off four wide, which isn’t going to make the boss bloke happy.

4 – jockeys on the horse three wide with no cover can position their horse such that they can pocket any number of runners to their inside, as where can the other horses to their inside go, with three across the track in a row in front of him? Now from this horse being positioned three wide, those horses that granted have had cushy runs in behind the leading trio, suddenly can’t get a run quickly on straightening. It therefore follows that the shorter the home straight, the more detrimental that aspect is to the winning chances of the horses that have had the cushy runs.

5 – If the track is rain affected, very few horses may have travelled three wide on the day so the horse travelling three wide with no cover in a slow first split is racing on less chopped up ground than the two to his inside.

6 – The jockey on the three wide horse can shift his or her mount outwards at a moment’s notice on straightening and be in going where they want to be. The jockey sitting third the fence upon straightening doesn’t have options necessarily and may well be dictated to and have to go back to the fence, into possibly inferior ground, to get a run.

7 – the horse being ridden three wide with no cover may in fact race better with room to move, rather than being cluttered up on the fence, overracing and carrying on like a fruit-loop from a feeling of claustrophobia. As a recent confirmation of that statement, on the balance of probability, Spillway would have won two Saturdays ago – if Oliver hadn’t sent him into a spot where he raced with no room to move in a slowly run race.

8 – The horse travelling three wide with no cover is understandably much less likely to be checked in running in racing incidents such as 1) a horse breaking down in front of him, 2) running onto heels, 3) by a green apprentice and/or senior jockey that is clearly having all sorts of problems controlling their horse, like say what happened to Jeff Lloyd inside of Scissor Kick last Saturday at Rosehill, etcetera.

9 – The jockey sitting three wide with no cover, one length off the lead, can look across and see and judge accurately how the two to his inside are travelling, whereas the jockey on the leader on the fence can’t see through the horse sitting on his outside, to see how the horse out three wide is travelling.

10 – If the horse sitting three wide with no cover is a short priced favourite, like say Scissor Kick was, at least the other jockeys can’t “do a job” on that horse and put him in a pocket, in the run, such that he’ll never get out and go to the line unluckily never getting a run.


So there are 10 reasons that I can think of straight away as to why it’s no problem to travel three wide no cover in a race – and still be afforded every possible chance.


In fact some stewarding jurisdictions, like Sydney where that horse Scissor Kick raced last Saturday, they never ever name horses that were trapped wide in any race ever run in the city – in their relevant stewards report. So instead of journalists – like the pair named here yesterday – writing up how unlucky Scissor Kick was from being trapped wide in a slow first split, why don’t they do something constructive and interview the Racing New South Wales Chief Steward, Ray Murrihy – then pen a story as to why he obviously sees it as irrelevant if a horse sits wide in the run or not.

Horses travel three wide the trip and regularly win in thoroughbred racing, even when racing over a middle distance or staying race. So it’s reasonably fresh in the mind of readers, at the Saturday city meeting at Moonee Valley on 23 August this year in Race 7, Crafty Cruiser, ridden by Cory Parish, was noted in my Melbourne Sectional Times report of that meeting as being “3 wide no cover to the 750 and was 4 wide no cover from the 750” in a 2500-metre race. Crafty Cruiser won narrowly this particular day even though he’d never won a race at Moonee Valley in 12 previous starts. The horse started at officially 20/1 so he was virtually unwanted in the market place and the market didn’t expect him to win, yet he raced a minimum of 3 wide all the way, with no cover, and still won. He got beaten at his next start, ridden pretty by Ben Melham. Why did he win at Moonee Valley? Well Parish just kept him balanced and happy where he was. He knew “they” weren’t going to let him in so he sat where he was stranded rather than hunting the horse up to go forward, or fighting him to go back. Remember step one in a crisis is “don’t panic”. Parish didn’t panic – he won the race. And don’t think for one moment that it was a trot and canter affair – they actually ran along the whole way and on the line Crafty Cruiser was only 1.14 seconds off the track record set by the handy Peter Moody trained Pass Me By, which set the record on 22/8/09.

One reads all these stories of horror of how a horse trapped wide in a thoroughbred race covers much more ground than the early explorers – according to surveyors work on the topic – and so on and so forth, so how much extra ground did Crafty Cruiser cover that day? But it didn’t get him beaten.

Racecallers don’t help the debate either, in respect of horses trapped wide, as whilst it’s good of them to advise their listening audience of horses that are trapped wide, they often over-react late in their call to the effect of a horse being trapped wide. As an endorsement to that statement – and so it’s relatively fresh in everyone’s mind – in Melbourne a few Saturday’s ago, on 13/9/14 at the Flemington meeting to be exact, Commanding Time was trapped three wide with no cover the trip but racecaller Greg Miles was clearly blown away by the win, exclaiming in his call, “below the 400 metres now, Gregers leading narrowly, Commanding Jewel still there and finishing. Solicit battling away well on the rails and then Dear Demi. At the 200, Commanding Jewel, brave as ever, drew about a neck in front of Gregers, Dear Demi. Nautical starting to come home. Commanding Jewel in front, Dear Demi diving up on the inside. Commanding Jewel she’s all out but she gets in.”

Now anyone watching that race was immediately able to draw the conclusion that this was an astounding win by Commanding Jewel. However when the dust settled and I was able to pull the race apart sectionally, I concluded she was in fact disappointing and “was entitled to win by further”. Why was that? I was able to tell my clients that “the leaders Solicit and Gregers were 7.79 seconds or (a staggering) 46.74 lengths off the extrapolated track record as they arrived at the 600. So that explains why Commanding Jewel could sit 3 wide with no cover the trip and still win.” I went on to tell clients, “Racecaller Greg Miles got carried away with the run because she was trapped wide, but that was no great feat”. What was the upshot of professionally dissecting that race sectionally? I advised my clients to lay the mare to get beaten last Friday night at Moonee Valley where she started the $1.75 favourite. And she never looked likely running a lean third. So the moral there is clearly to take no notice whatsoever of well-intentioned racecallers telling you in the heat of the moment of some Herculian feat performed by a racehorse, for until the race is pulled apart sectionally, it’s impossible to determine with any degree of accuracy whatsoever whether Commanding Jewel’s run was in fact amazing or ordinary. It was deemed to be “ordinary” by anyone with a knowledge of sectional times, which must be very few people, as “they” all tumbled into tipping her and backing her last Friday night.   

So in summary, in the vast majority of cases, don’t take too much notice of horses trapped wide in thoroughbred racing, unless they are young 2YO’s on debut, or inexperienced horses having their first couple of starts, as those type of horses will on the balance of probability, be looking for a rail to guide them, as that’s all they are used to, to that point of their career, or 2) unless the race is run at a break-neck speed early.

Today on there’s the first of two montages of photos from Doomben last Saturday. On there’s a breeding story, whilst on Victorian racing is perused.

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