There was some top racing in the heats of the St Leger so we should be treated to a great race on Thursday night. Before the heats, I suspect the bookies would have priced quite a different market but you can’t argue with the results – and you certainly can’t argue with the times.
Box 1 has the best strike rate at 18% with box 2 next around 15%. The outside three boxes have the worst records with both box 6 and box 8 finding less than 10% of winners.
While there may be a perception that in longer races, in run position is less important, the stats show that this is not the case.
Almost 50% of winners at Addington over the middle distance are the leaders with a lap to go. A further 22% are second. So in three quarters of 520m races, the winner will be first or second at the first bend.
At the other end of the spectrum just 11% of races over 520m have been won by dogs fifth or worse at the post the first time around.
Not surprisingly, there’s oodles of early speed in this race. Early speed can and does win races which is why so many of these runners will be on pace that potentially sets it up for a tight first bend.
Max Dancer surprised a few people in the heats but her sectionals showed she could lead in her heat and she did and was never headed.
To be fair, just half a length covered the opening sectionals of Kiwi Gal (5.89), Opawa Viking and Max Dancer (both 5.91). Double Speed wasn’t that far off last week either while both Strauss best opening sectionals from the last 90 days puts her right in the mix.
Max Dancer is the only runner to have two runs in the best opening sectionals over the last 90 days. The one flag is that in a very short career, Max Dancer has yet to draw inside 4 but she looks to head to the rail so the inside alley should be ideal.
At the other end, Manooka and Idol Dude should get a good sight of the speedsters from their outside draws while Diddilee will find it tougher this week. Last week he made the mode of box 1 but from box 4 he will need to have to negotiate a delicate path through the first bend.
It’s hard to ignore Max Dancer’s efforts in the heat – as they say, box speed is gold. Her winning time last week makes coupled with the box 1 draw makes her a deserved favourite although as we noted at the top, the bookies would have priced the market quite differently before the heats.
With so much focus on the early speed, we can forget the claims of the swoopers – the dogs with the best finishing burst. Von Strauss dominates the best closing sectionals from the runners in this field – while it reflects the number of times she’s run at Addington, it also reflects the threat she poses if she gets a through the first turn safely. Being on the outside of the speedsters could well help although the box 5 draw isn’t a great help.
The other runner with a notable closing sectional is Diddilee who ran 12.22 back in November. However, as we noted while he is now two from two at Addington, the box draw in this field makes things a lot tougher.
The bookies have listed Max Dancer as a clear favourite with Von Strauss on the second line. The stats above underline their strong chances.
Best bet – Max Dancer – it’s a tough decision but Max Dancer has the early speed and the box draw to suit
Best Swooper – Has to be Van Strauss. She has run a 5.91 opening split – if she can make a quick and safe start, her closing sectional should see her home. The value in her $4.20FF has be matched with squeeze box draw.
Value runner – take your pick! Only two dogs are paying more than $10FF. As the speed map shows Double Speed ($9.50) won’t have a lot of pressure on his outside and could potentially be able to skirt any trouble on his inside. Of the dogs with early speed, only Von Strauss has a better closing sectional.