Stud defectors punch hole in ranks of new four year-olds

published: 01 Sep 2015 in International

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 these runners move into the older horse ranks. Depending on what KPI is used there is more than one measure by which each season’s crop can be assessed.

  For the past 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 and Kermadec to significantly improve their Timeform rating by season’s end.

2014-15 Crop

As At March 1, 2015 As at July 30, 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. This was 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.

  Last year we experienced a three year-old crop 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 the Rosehill Guineas and ATC Derby and finishing his three year-old year on 122. The crop had no horses rated 125 or above and just nine 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 11 horses rating 120 or above and three 125 and above. 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 past 22 years. However 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), all now at stud.

  Also 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 Gr.1 level at four as well as being runner-up in a Cox Plate before heading off to stud. 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 Gr.1 level, tells a different story. Last season’s crop came in equal last with the 2008-09 crop, both crops registering 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 Gr.1 level, Brazen Beau and Kermadec. This is the worst result for any three year-old crop in the past 22 years and given that the older horse ranks have been slowly depleted over the past 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 Gr.1 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 past 22 years only one three year-old crop has won more Gr.1 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 past 20 years include the class of 1996-97 headed in the Timeform ratings by Mouawad (127) and 1999-2000 headed by Testa Rossa (127) both providing winners of 11 Gr.1 races against older runners.

  The table below shows among other statistics the number of wins each group has recorded each season in the past 21 years against older horses at the elite level. As a matter of interest during the past 20 years, the average number of Gr.1 wins recorded against older opponents by the three year-old crop each season is 7.4.


Crop Season Top Rated 3YO # 3YO # 3YO 3YO G1 >=115
    >=120 >=125 wins older med
2014-15 Brazen Beau (126) 11 3 2 119.7
2013-14 Shamus Award (124) 9 0 3 118
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
2009-10 Wanted & So You Think &        
  Starspangledbanner (126) 12 3 7 119
2008-09 Whobegotyou (126) 15 1 3 119
2007-08 Weekend Hussler (130) 5 1 7 118
2006-07 Haradasun (126) 11 1 6 119
2005-06 Racing To Win & Snitzel (125) 14 3 8 119
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
2001-02 Lonhro (124) 10 0 5 118
2000-01 Universal Prince & Assertive Lad (124) 7 0 7 118
1999-00 Testa Rossa (127) 12 2 11 120
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
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