VICTORIOUS SAMURAI WARRIOR
After a thorough assessment and discussion between the NHA Handicappers, SAMURAI WARRIOR was given a merit rating of 105 following his front running victory under a masterful ride from Jockey Piere Strydom in the SA Derby (Grade 1) at Turffontein on Saturday 30 March 2019 over 2450m.
Ironically he was the only contestant in the race that had contested over this aptitude twice before, and was also placed before in the listed event.
The Handicappers are satisfied that the new rating is a fair reflection of SUMURAI WARRIOR’S performance and the race level is still 10 MR points below the international threshold for a Grade 1 race.
In analysing what appeared to be a race run at a slow pace, the handicappers were of the opinion that third placed MARCHINGONTOGETHER would not have run worse by finishing third at Grade 1 level than when he won a non-black type Feature at Scottsville in February.
Accordingly, it was this performance by MARCHINGONTOGETHER that was used as the line to rate the SA Derby. This equates to MARCHINGONTOGETHER running to a rating of 102 in the Derby, and this is the rating that has been allocated to him. Derby runner-up ZILLZAAL had his rating dropped from 106 to 105, thus making him equal to the winner.
Fourth placed ATYAAB’S rating remains unchanged on the 105 he was made after he won the Cape Derby two starts back. As a recent Grade 1 winner who may not have been entirely suited to the pace at which the SA Derby was run, it is believed that it would be premature to drop his mark for now.
In other changes, SENOR LIZARD was raised from 85 to 88, ARLINGTONS REVENGE goes up from 80 to 84, MASTER MAGIC was raised from 80 to 84, ZANAKI goes up from 78 to 83, and LAST OF THE LEGEND was upped from 78 to 81.
These horses finished from 5th place to 9th, and in doing this it is ensured that these five horses would meet one another on the correct weight terms in a handicap race. This satisfies the definition of a handicap.
The only other change was OWLINTHETREE, whose rating was cut from 99 to 91.
H F Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes (Grade 1)
SOQRAT remains unchanged on a rating of 124 after his win in the Grade 1 Horse Chestnut Stakes over 1600m. This performance confirms SOQRAT’S status as the best three-year-old colt over 1600m presently in training, but it was felt that he by no means needed to improve on his 124 rating to win this race. It was fourth placed TILBURY FORT who was used the line horse to rate this race.
The strength of the three-year-old crop was greatly underlined in the Horse Chestnut Stakes, with CIRILLO beaten less than one length into second and finishing well ahead of the older horses. This looks to be an outstanding crop of three-year-old males, and in the wake of this performance CIRILLO’S rating has been upped from 111 to 114.
The Handicappers took into consideration that UNAGI is a 5 year old that has not been able to win for almost 2 years and only adjusted him to 106 and not the 110 he achieved. In other changes, CASCAPEDIA was dropped from 110 to 109, LEGAL EAGLE had his rating cut from 120 to 118, AL DANZA drops to 104 from 106, and WILL PAYS is down from 114 to 112.
Wilgerbosdrift S A Oaks (Grade 2)
RETURN FLIGHT was given a new rating of 106 after she comfortably won the Grade 2 Wilgerbosdrift SA Oaks over 2450m under another extremely well-judged ride from Piere Strydom. This represents a slight increase of one pound on the 105 rating she was given after she won the Grade 1 SA Fillies Classic.
In rating the Oaks, it was runner-up BLOSSOM who was used as the line horse and accordingly her rating remains unchanged on 103. Third placed SEVILLE ORANGE was raised from 91 to 99, while fourth placed BIZE was upped from 79 to 97. These two fillies were rated relative to fifth placed CHITENGO, so that the three would meet one another on the correct terms in a handicap race.
In other changes, SECOND REQUEST was dropped from 104 to 99, while PRETTY BORDER goes up from 72 to 80 in order that she is not rated below last placed FARIHA, who remains unchanged on 80.