• Sun
  • Jul 13, 2014
  • Updated: 7:16am

Ratings are not the be-all, end-all for Derby selection

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 March, 2012, 12:00am

Last year's Derby-winning trainer, Tony Millard, obviously had his own view after the final race on Sunday with regards to the classic this year, when he was heard to muse in the aftermath that there were 'a lot of expensive mistakes there'.

A number of other people were no doubt thinking the same as it wasn't the kind of lead-up run that the connections of expensive private purchases like Military Attack, Dan Excel and a few others would have been hoping for as we await today's field selection announcement.

Same World did have excuses after racing wide and the Tony Cruz-trained Packing Tycoon actually enhanced his Derby standing at his final preparation run after being pretty moderate in everything he had done until Sunday.

One race earlier, Real Specialist advanced his cause towards getting a call up today, despite his handicap rating of 83.

And the reason for the frowns on the faces of those who disappointed and the hopeful looks from those which ran well, is that history shows it is at least as much about current form and an ability to perform in the race as about handicap ratings.

Twelve months ago, Semos got a Derby start off a rating of 88 but the selection panel dropped short-course sprinter Multiglory, who was rated 102 but a highly suspect stayer. The panel also left out Destined For Glory, who had a 92 rating but had finished seventh at his only local start.

Two years ago, several horses lower in rating but, with present form, got into the Derby at the expense of Cheerful Delight (rated 90) and Deposer (87), both of whom had ratings points but no form.

And so it goes back over the years. Quick Touch (86) was still preferred to higher-rated runners in 2009 because he had two recent wins. And Danesis (86) was included ahead of Galen Win (88) and Joy And Fun (92) in the 2008 edition - although he never ran after being scratched at the starting gates.

The issue with some of the highly rated imports, who had built their rating somewhere else but may have been over-assessed in some cases or just failed to acclimatise here, is that their inclusion only on the basis of a rating figure promotes a falsehood.

For many, their initial rating of 90 or thereabouts might be the last time they ever see that figure as they fail to find form and drop down the handicap to where they are more comfortable and competitive.

So whether they are expensive mistakes or not will be judged some time in the future but current form will weigh against some of them gaining a Derby selection.

No doubt Millard will have fingers and toes crossed for Masquerader to get a Derby run off his rating of 92, despite his dismal failure at his only run here.


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