Marinaresco’s misleading MR

MARINARESCO, the 2017 Durban July winner, makes his Dubai debut in Thursday’s Gr2 Al Fahidi Fort over 1400m on turf, a race the stable has won half a dozen times in the last 15 years, but not considered a winning opportunity this year.

Mike de Kock said on Wednesday: “Marinaresco is an older horse, he has travelled, he will need the run and he needs further. He’s doing nicely in his work and of course Bernard Fayd’Herbe knows him well, but we’ll be happy to see him run within six or eight lengths off the winner.

Marinaresco in Dubai.

Marinaresco in Dubai.

“I also have to note here that the ratings of South African horses are misleading as the South African crop went up 6 lbs last year. The NHA announced that it was a local adjustment only and not an international rating. However, Marinaresco has been rated six lbs up at 118 so the NHA’s statement does not reflect in the Dubai ratings.

“Effectively, South African horses have been prejudiced to the tune of 6 lbs and quite frankly it’s wholly misleading. In reality Marinaresco is a MR112 not 118 as published!

“Marinaresco’s supporters may think he can make a winning comeback over 1400m since his record shows a win in the Drill Hall Stakes at Greyville, but this is not Greyville and it’s a much tougher race. We’ve enjoyed working with him and look forward to him improving with racing through the carnival.”

Janoobi (Jim Crowley) will join Marinaresco in the race. The five-year-old entire ran downfield in a 1400m handicap a fortnight ago, but is expected to run a better race and Mike said: “If you look at last year’s form, Janoobi ran way back in his first Dubai start and then started making rapid improvement. The Al Fahidi is too short for him, he needs another run to get him to his peak.”

A good run is expected from Alfolk in Race 1, the AGA Billets Trophy over 1000m on turf. Mike commented: “He was beaten eight lengths on his debut here on 3 January but he’s come on very well, I think he’ll be right there, he can finish in the money.

“All our runners have needed it, but this is nothing new for us. If you recall Shea Shea finished 7 of 12 on his Dubai debut in 2013, his fans thought that was a moderate run but a few weeks later he won a Listed sprint and then a Group 1. They take time to get to top fitness.”



  1. I too Think Alfolk will go well, I compare his Turfontien form very well in this Grade, I do think Hit the Bid did well for a 4yo sprinter last Year,

    I think today Orvar a horse I noted really starting to come back to rude Health late last autumn in the UK, at least the UK Racing Post has Your Horses age Correct, they would Normally class him as a 5yo they always use Northern Hemisphere dates on southern Hemisphere Horses and that can always be Misleading to Punters in 2yo races when UK Books class them as 3YOS,

    I think today ORVAR could Possibly go well if there is a strong pace but if not Hit the Bid Looks Most Likely although I will be screaming for Alfolk to win.

  2. Jay August says:

    Mike is correct in his call on the handicap mark for Marinaresco and the issue actually runs much deeper. I could write 20 pages on this issue as it has been a thorn for me for a long time, and manifests itself quite severely in the Longines World Rankings/Ratings. I apologize therefore for the length of this comment.

    This ratings confusion seems really to be down to a lack of communication between the respective handicappers, or at worst a misunderstanding of what the ratings are. I’ve seen a similar issue year after year in the Longines ratings and how SA racehorse are rated there. It really should never be that difficult to get right and I am always left amazed why the respective handicappers cannot consult and make the necessary adjustments, where necessary.

    The ratings database in each country is merely an expression of the relative out performance against a mean rating for all horses in that country. Absolute rating comparisons from one country to another are pointless unless there is an understanding of what the mean or base rating in each country is, and how over time each countries base rating has changed, remained the same, and compares to another country. It would be quite simple to take a rating in SA and have it compare directly to a rating in Dubai, Hong Kong or the UK, but that can never work unless there is harmony amongst the various handicappers worldwide. I do not believe there is such harmony, even though I suspect they think there is. We further complicate issues by having to make the conversion from half-kilos to pounds and back again.

    To use a practical example of what this means. If you inspect the BHA ratings database for all flat male horses in 2018, the average rating is 70.84lbs and the median 71lbs. If you pull the same data from the NHRA the average rating (expressed in pounds) for male horses is 75.89lbs and the median 73.85lbs. Without further interpretation that means the average SA male racehorse is nearly 4lbs better than his equivalent in the UK. We know that is simply not correct, and if anything the average in SA is lower. This immediately should alert you to the fact that the absolute value in SA is not correct and cannot be meaningfully compared to another country without adjustment. The handicappers seemingly made an arbitrary rule that 1 lb equals 2 pounds, an error of 10%, which they assume will iron out the issue.

    So how does one alter the median in SA to more accurately reflect the true median versus the expressed one. The easiest way is to look at the top end, where the very best horses lie and which horses are included in the World Rankings. The World Rankings are very close or identical to the BHA ratings in most cases so can be used as a viable proxy. At the point I drew these numbers (early Dec 2018) Legal Eagle was the top rated SA horse rating an MR123 (136lbs). If one were to take these as absolute that would rate Legal Eagle 6lbs clear of Cracksman which we know is just plain wrong.

    The World Rankings had Legal Eagle at 120 to end November 2018. That would imply that using Legal Eagle as a proxy, an adjustment of minus 16lbs should be made against all MR rated SA horses, expressed in pounds, to derive a proper comparison to the UK rating standard. Applying that across the entire rated male horse population in SA drops the average SA rating to 60.45 and the median to 58.27. So we can now say that the median rating in SA is 12.73lbs lower than in the UK. That sounds about right. Consider that the top rated SA horse in these World Rankings has been Variety Club (127lbs) and adding 12.73lbs would give a top rating of 140 in the UK. As it is the only horse to get that rating in the UK was Frankel so drawing very simple lines with all this data infers that the 12.73lbs lower median in SA is sound.

    So what does this imply for Marinaresco? If we take the post adjusted rating of 118 half-kilos or 130lbs and make the necessary -16lbs adjustment then Marinaresco is 114lbs on the BHS or 114 half-kilos on the EHA scale. He should be no higher than 114 for him to be fairly handicapped. He has only ever run that rating in two races, the 2017 July Handicap and the 2018 Met Stakes. He is now prejudiced by the incorrect scale being used in SA and that scale being imported directly into the Dubai ratings without proper adjustment or further analysis.

    To highlight this anomaly consider that Thunder Snow is rated 117 on grass by the BHA and 118 by the ERA. Marinaresco is rated equal to him when in fact he should be 4lbs lower. The question is why the handicappers in SA and Dubai are not making these adjustments? Handicapping is no art. It is mostly a statistical study of the relative merits of horses in each country. The arty part may be in comparing one country to another but that is very easily done given the global nature of horses which compete against each other all the time, and the art can be expressed into simple statistics as well.

    So it is not surprising that the handicappers in Dubai, after the race mentioned in this article, have now dropped Marinaresco rating to 115. Just why there needed to be discovery after the event, while the discovery was pretty apparent before the event, is the question that needs answering.

  3. Jay August says:

    Correction : in the fifth paragraph of my initial comment the last sentence should read …… 1kg equals 2lbs