JEHAN Malherbe of Form Bloodstock believes the NHRA’s recent raising of merit ratings will harm the South African racing industry. In a letter to mikedekockracing.com, Malherbe explains his view:
The NHRA recently took the drastic step of raising merit ratings of local horses. They cited two reasons for this:
“After considering the rating levels achieved in South African Graded races over the last 5 years it was quite evident that many Graded races fell short of the requirements (as stipulated by Asian Racing Federation) and if not rectified could result in a number of races being downgraded or losing their Graded Status. This would potentially be a major problem for the breeding industry and the status of South African racing.
“After considering these facts, it was agreed by the Board of the National Horseracing Authority to raise the turf ratings in the Major Centres (Gauteng, Kwazulu Natal and the Western Cape) by 6 points.”
A knee jerk reaction if ever I saw one!
Before making this decision, did the NHRA consider all the facts?
… “it could result in a number of races being downgraded” is hardly conclusive.
A lot of discussion at International level would need to take place before races got downgraded. As an example, the Tattersalls Gold Cup in Ireland which carries Gr1 status, has not achieved the level required once in the last 3 years. Is anyone raising Irish ratings or downgrading this race? No!
Get real. Ireland obviously doesn’t belong to the Asian Racing Federation – who are telling us raise our ratings. Why should we bother to belong? Who tells South America to raise their ratings?
“Another aspect was the rating improvement shown by the majority of South African raced horses campaigning overseas. Many had increased when competing on the International stage.”
A wild, unsubstantiated statement?
Sure, some Mike de Kock trained horses have shown improvement. Most left here as young horses and are still on the up. Most horses do mature, get better with age – and often improve in another environment.
Mike has only ever taken two horses which had previously raced in Australia, into Dubai, namely:
Zerhee -he arrived 98 and in one season went to 105.
Reem –arrived 104, went to 107.
Better tell the Aussies to up their ratings 7 pounds!
Asiatic Boy arrived from Argentina a 108 and went to 120.
Honour Devil arrived 104 and went to 121.
I hope then, that Argentine ratings are being changed dramatically!
And what about Ireland and England?
Archipenko arrived at De Kock 113 and ended up 120.
Warsaw arrived 100 and went to 107.
Rerouted arrived 108 and went to 115.
Falstaff arrived 102 and went to 113.
Surely the UK and Irish ratings should go up at least 7lb – “Many had increased when competing on the International stage”
Igugu, Emotif, Happy Valley, Grande Jete, Irish Flame, etc – all dropped in rating when sent overseas. Should we not be lowering our ratings on that evidence?
Whilst we all know we are capable of breeding very competitive horses, we haven’t quite managed to crack it at the highest level on the UK or European stage. Not many have tried, but it is a fact that no South African-bred has won a Group one race in Europe or England since the graded race concept was introduced many years ago.
According to the official handicappers at the NHRA, we now breed some of the world’s very best horses.
On 4th August this year, the International Federation of Horse Racing Authorities published its list of the World’s best horses – according to their Official International Ratings.
Only Shea Shea (120) –made it into the top 50. Our handicappers disagree. Their ratings published at the same time, paint a very different picture.
The list below shows the International Handicapper’s ratings of the best horses which raced in Europe & UK up to 4th August 2013
I have added our NHRA top rated horses and the combined list makes for fascinating reading.
Heavy Metal, Jackson and What A Winter are rated the equal of St Nicholas Abbey – a winner of 6 Group one races including 2 Coronation Cups, Dubai Sheema Classic and Breeder’s Cup Mile.
Some points to ponder:
They are also rated better than the likes of Pastorius (3 Group 1 wins) and Lethal Force (2 Group 1 wins). Not included in the TURF ratings above is Animal Kingdom (Rated 125). A previous Kentucky Derby winner and hero of this year’s Dubai World Cup – he is just a pound better than Heavy Metal?
They are also rated superior to all of this season’s Major Classic winners Magician (Irish Two Thousand Guineas), Intello (French Derby), Trading Leather (Irish Derby) and Ruler Of The World (Epsom Derby). Although he only has a dirt rating, this year’s Kentucky Derby winner, Orb, is also rated just 121 – 3lb inferior to the likes of Heavy Metal.
It gets better:
Pomodoro and Master Plan are officially only one pound inferior to Royal Ascot sensation, Declaration Of War. Hill Fifty Four and Whiteline Fever are both 2lb inferior to Declaration of War at 118 and neither have ever won a G1 of any description.
Via Africa is just one pound from being the best grass filly in the World. Moonlight Cloud is rated just a pound better than her.
To earn her rating, Moonlight Cloud had to win 11 races (5 Group 1’s) including the Prix Du Moulin De Longchamp Gr1, Prix Maurice de Gheest Gr1 and Prix Jacques Le Marois Gr1 –beating the colts on each occasion!
Via Africa may have narrowly missed out on being rated the very best filly, but at least “our boys” have her rated higher than the unbeaten French Oaks winner Treve and Sky Lantern (winner of the One Thousand Guineas and Coronation Stakes this season).
Jwala (the filly which won the Gr1 Nunthorpe last month) has a current rating of 114. Via Africa would have beaten her by at least two lengths – a “thrashing” in sprint terms.
While on the subject of Gr1 sprinters, Sole Power (won Kings Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot) is currently rated 7 lb inferior to What A Winter and 3lb inferior to Via Africa (to whom he would have to concede a sex allowance).
Shea Shea “killed” What A Winter the last time they met, (in the Computaform Sprint) but is now 4lbs inferior, despite having subsequently won an international Gr1.
I have no desire to “bad-mouth” our handicappers. Generally, I believe, they handle a controversial and difficult job with much skill. I would imagine their hands were forced when implementing these new ratings.
They are however the people who put out these ratings, and anyone with a fleeting knowledge of handicapping and International racing, will clearly see from the above, that these ratings are a pile of doggy-poo.
Personally, I think the elevation of ratings will do far more harm than good “for the breeding industry and the status of South African racing.”