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The Tattersalls 250th Year Falmouth Stakes Sectional Timing Analysis


For the second day running, the feature race at Newmarket’s July Festival did not go the way the majority expected, though there was admittedly no shortage of inspired late backing for Alice Springs in the Tattersalls 250th Year Falmouth Stakes.

Alice Springs was helped to her success by the under-performance of the short-priced favourite, Usherette, and of last year’s winner, Amazing Maria, who filled the last two places. But any thoughts that this was a poor renewal should be put to bed by a look at the clock.

The winner’s time of 1m 34.42s was a course record, eclipsing the previous best – posted by Lovers Knot in this same race in 1998 – by more than a second. Conditions were fast, with a wind seeming to assist, but that is still a remarkably quick time.

Alice Springs won by two and a quarter lengths and a nose from the smart Godolphin pair Very Special and Always Smile, and there should be little doubt that she is high-class herself. Her recent defeats had come on easier ground and under less well-judged rides.

Running times as fast as this requires not just quick conditions but a true pace. Judging such things accurately by eye is well-nigh impossible, especially when the field comes down the centre of the track, as here. But, fortunately, we have TurfTrax sectional times to tell us precisely what happened.

The tempo was set from the get-go, with the opening furlong passing in 15.00s flat. The fastest TurfTrax first furlong in the previous four editions of the Falmouth was 15.39s in 2012, remembering that the opening sectional includes acceleration from a standing start.

The next couple of furlongs were solid – in the mid-11-second range – then the runners really started to shovel on the coals. The fourth furlong saw every runner post 11.00s or quicker, followed by another nearly as fast.

Alice Springs was tracking the pace set by Very Special at this stage, and soon after she went into overdrive. A 10.84s furlong from three furlongs out to two furlongs out was followed by a decisive 10.76s (41.8 mph) penultimate furlong, her fastest of the race at a stage when no other filly could get under 11.00s.

Alice Springs forged on and was soon in little danger, running the concluding, uphill, furlong in a time of 12.37s that only third-placed Always Smile (12.33s) managed to better narrowly.

Unlike on the opening day, when Big Orange benefited from setting soft fractions under an inspired James McDonald in the Princess of Wales’s Stakes, there is no reason on those sectionals to gainsay the result of the Falmouth Stakes.

Nothing made up significant late headway behind: the best filly on the day won, and won well.

Indeed, Alice Springs’ final three furlongs of 33.97s (a speed of 104.2% compared to her average race speed) is sufficiently fast that it could be argued she deserves extra credit, rather than less. This was certainly her day in the sun, in more senses than one.

The fashion for fast times had been set earlier on the card, notably by Roly Poly’s win in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes, which came in a time 0.20s quicker than had been recorded by Mehmas in the July Stakes 24 hours earlier.

Roly Poly ran the last three furlongs even more quickly than Alice Springs went onto do – 33.91s on TurfTrax figures – and was another Aidan O’Brien-trained inmate to thrive under the conditions.

Newmarket’s Clerk of The Course, Michael Prosser, announced at the end of the day that there would be 3 millimetres of watering applied to the track overnight in advance of Saturday’s card, which features the Darley July Cup.

Simon Rowlands

Rowlands Racing & Research Limited

Click here to see full sectional timing data.