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2014-15 Three-Year-Old Ranks Thin

With the 2014-15 Racing Season now consigned to the history books it is time to reflect on the calibre of the three-year-old crop and what might lie ahead as they move into the older horse ranks.

2014-15 Three-Year-Old Ranks Thin

With the 2014-15 Racing Season now consigned to the history books it is time to reflect on the calibre of the three-year-old crop and what might lie ahead as they move into the older horse ranks.

Brazen Beau running second in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes (British Champions Series & Global Sprint Challenge)
Brazen Beau running second in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes (British Champions Series & Global Sprint Challenge) Picture:Racing and Sports

Depending on what KPI is used there is more than one measure by which each season’s crop can be assessed.

For the last 20 seasons Timeform ratings have given a unique perspective on each crop and how that crop may fare at four.


At the end of March 2015, a comparison of previous three-year-old crops at the same stage in the season for the previous five years using Timeform ratings suggested we could expect some uplift at the top end as well as in the median Timeform rating for the crop.

While those three-year-olds at the top end failed to realise any additional improvement in the following five months, (see table below) as is usually the case a couple on the fringes did step up like Brazen Beau Horseform and Kermadec Horseform to significantly improve their Timeform rating by season’s end.

As At 1at March 2015              

 

As at 30th July 2015

 

Rich Enuff

125

Brazen Beau

126

Shooting To Win

125

Rich Enuff

125

First Seal

122

Shooting To Win

125

Rubick

122

Kermadec

124

Brazen Beau

121

Wandjina

123

 

The comparison of how this crop finished the season with other crops makes interesting reading and may afford us a window of how they might perform at four – an age group in Australia that has been significantly affected by injuries and retirements in recent years.

Quite clearly the knock-on impact of this is a lower quality of weight for age and open class horses at the top end.

Although we did not realise it at the time, Australian racing was spoiled in 2011-12 and 2012-13 with two excellent three-year-old crops that comprised quality gallopers such as Pierro (128), All Too Hard (129), Sepoy (129), Atlantic Jewel (128), Dundeel (125), Epaulette (126), Helmet (125), Foxwedge (128) and Manawanui (125).

Sadly we did not get to experience many of those racing in Australia at four – a major blow to the quality of racing but on the flip side a significant boost to the breeding industry.

In terms of a quantitative assessment, both those crops produced a high number of three-year-olds Timeform rated 120 or above (12 and 11) but more significantly rated 125 and above (5 and 4). See Table below.

Importantly both crops had a median Timeform rating of 120.5 for all horses in the crop rated 115 or greater indicating significant strength at the top end.

Then last year we experienced one of the weaker three-year-old crops headed by Cox Plate and Australian Guineas winner Shamus Award (124).

While Shamus Award created history with his victories in the Cox Plate and Australian Guineas, the crop lost VRC Derby winner Polanski, Spring Champion Stakes winner Complacent and Caulfield Guineas winner Long John before the Autumn, Criterion being the only ratings riser in the last half of the 2013-14 three-year-old season, winning both the Rosehill Guineas and ATC Derby finishing his three-year-old year on 122.

The crop had no horses rated 125 or above and just 9 were assessed at 120 or above with the median Timeform rating for the top end coming in equal lowest for 22 years at 118 or 2.5 pounds below the highest median rating achieved by the 1995-96, 2011-12 and 2012-13 crops.

The same Timeform ratings analysis of the 2014-15 crop reveals a slightly better year with 11 horses rating 120 or above and three 125 and above. But the more encouraging statistic looking forward to their possible performance at four was the median Timeform rating at the higher end coming in at 119.7 – one of the higher values in the last 22 years.

But before we get too excited about what might lie ahead for this crop at four, it has to be recognised that some of the higher rated runners have already been lost to racing like Brazen Beau (126), Shooting To Win (125), Rubick (122), Hallowed Crown (122) and Wandjina (123).

And when we consider these horses came from the pool at the top end for this crop which stood at 19 or five under the five year moving average, it does not leave a huge number of the better performed three-year-olds entering the older ranks.

This will undoubtedly have an impact on the quality of three-year-olds that flow through to the older ranks and for the fourth season in a row, the highest Timeform rated three-year-old has failed to race on at four – the last to do so was Jimmy Choux from the 2010-11 crop who went on to win twice at group one level at four as well as being runner up in a Cox Plate before heading off to stud.

And before him from the 2009-10 crop there was the outstanding So You Think who carried all before him at four and five both on the local and international racing stage.

While Timeform ratings analysis paints the 2014-15 three-year-old crop in a more positive light than the 2013-14 crop, another KPI such as the number of wins the crop achieved against older horses at group one level tells another story.

Last season’s crop came in equal last with the 2008-09 crop – both crops registering with just three wins against older horses at elite level.

However the 2014-15 crop fared worse with just two managing a win against the older horses at group one level – Brazen Beau and Kermadec.

This is the worst result for any three-year-old crop in the last 22 years and given that the older horse ranks have been slowly depleted over the last couple of years, this can hardly be a good indication of the overall strength of the recently turned four-year-olds.

By comparison the 2012-13 crop that comprised All Too Hard (Timeform rated 129), Pierro (128), Epaulette (126) and Dundeel (125) fared extremely well.

Their age group won 11 group one races against older opponents during the season, the most prolific being All Too Hard who won three races (All Aged Stakes, Futurity Stakes and Orr Stakes) while Pierro and Fiveandahalfstar won two each.

In the last 22 years only one three-year-old crop has won more group one races against older horses in the season and that was the 1997-98 crop headed by General Nediym (126), that group winning a staggering 12 races.

Apart from General Nediym (Newmarket Hcp/Lightning Stakes) the crop included Encounter (George Main Stakes/Futurity Stakes/Chipping Norton Stakes), Gold Guru (Ranvet Stakes), Special Dane (Orr Stakes), La Baraka (Galaxy Stakes), Tie The Knot (Sydney Cup), Stella Cadente (Australia Stakes), The Hind (Adelaide Cup) and Notoire (Salinger Stakes).

Other notable three-year-old crops in the last 20 years include the class of 1996-97 headed in the Timeform ratings by Mouawad (127) and 1999-00 headed by Testa Rossa (127) both providing winners of 11 group one races against older runners.

The table below shows amongst other statistics the number of wins each group has recorded each season in the last 21 years against older horses at the elite level.

As a matter of interest over the last 20 years, the average number of group one wins recorded against older opponents by the three-year-old crop each season is 7.4.

Crop Season

Top Rated 3YO

# 3YO >=120

# 3YO

>=125

3YO G1 wins older

>=115 med

2014-15

Brazen Beau (126)

11

3

2

119.7

2013-14

Shamus Award (124)

9

0

3

118.0

2012-13

All Too Hard (129)

10

4

11

120.5

2011-12

Sepoy (129)

12

5

6

120.5

2010-11

Star Witness &

Jimmy Choux (124)

7

0

4

118.0

2009-10

Wanted & So You Think &
Starspangledbanner (126)

12

3

7

119.0

2008-09

Whobegotyou (126)

15

1

3

119.0

2007-08

Weekend Hussler (130)

5

1

7

118.0

2006-07

Haradasun (126)

11

1

6

119.0

2005-06

Racing To Win & Snitzel (125)

14

3

8

119.0

2004-05

Fastnet Rock (127)

7

2

6

118.5

2003-04

Exceed and Excel (126)

10

1

9

118.5

2002-03

Choisir (126)

12

2

8

119.0

2001-02

Lonhro (124)

10

0

5

118.0

2000-01

Universal Prince &

Assertive Lad (124)

7

0

7

118.0

1999-00

Testa Rossa (127)

12

2

11

120.0

1998-99

Sunline (125)

10

2

9

119.5

1997-98

General Nediym (126)

14

1

12

118.5

1996-97

Mouawad (127)

12

2

11

119.0

1995-96

Flying Spur & Octagonal &

Our Maizcay (126)

13

6

9

120.5

1994-95

Chief De Beers & Danewin (126)

10

4

6

118.5


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