With plenty of doubt about the precise state of the going at Ascot on British Champions Day, it is worth considering what the times of the first few races can tell us about exactly how testing conditions are...
The below indicates the going description categories that are likely to correspond with specified times for the first four contests, along with the winners' times and sectionals for those races on going that was good, though tending towards good to firm, in 2011.
16f Long Distance Cup
3m 28.6s to 3m 32.5s = GOOD TO SOFT (average time 3m 30.5s, for which "par" sects: 39.1s last 3f; 26.6s last 2f; 13.7s last 1f)
3m 32.5s to 3m 38.0s = SOFT (average time 3m 35.2s, for which "par" sects: 40.0 s last 3f; 27.2s last 2f; 14.0s last 1f)
3m 38.0s plus = HEAVY ("par" sects of following or higher: 40.5s last 3f; 27.6s last 2f; 14.2s last 1f)
(Times for Fame And Glory on GOOD in 2011: 3m 26.5s --- 37.30s, 25.53s, 13.06s)
6f Sprint Stakes
1m 14.2s to 1m 15.75s = GOOD TO SOFT (ave time 1m 15.0s, "par" sects: 37.0s last 3f; 25.1s last 2f; 13.0s last 1f)
1m 15.75s to 1m 17.9s = SOFT (ave time 1m 16.8s, "par" sects: 37.9s last 3f; 25.7s last 2f; 13.3s last 1f)
1m 17.9s plus = HEAVY ("par" sects of following or higher: 38.4s last 3f; 26.1s last 2f; 13.5s last 1f)
(Times for Deacon Blues on GOOD in 2011: 1m 12.55s --- 35.59s, 24.58s, 13.04s)
2m 32.3s to 2m 35.3s = GOOD TO SOFT (ave time 2m 33.8s, "par" sects: 38.6s last 3f; 26.2s last 2f; 13.5s last 1f)
2m 35.3s to 2m 39.4s = SOFT (ave time 2m 37.3s, "par" sects: 39.5s last 3f; 26.8s last 2f; 13.8s last 1f)
2m 39.4s plus = HEAVY ("par" sects of following or higher: 40.0s last 3f; 27.2 s last 2f; 14.0s last 1f)
(Times for Dancing Rain on GOOD in 2011: 2m 27.29s --- 36.80s, 24.99s, 12.71s)
1m 40.5s to 1m 42.6s = GOOD TO SOFT (ave time 1m 41.5s, "par" sects: 37.7s last 3f; 25.6s last 2f; 13.2s last 1f)
1m 42.6s to 1m 45.45s = SOFT (ave time 1m 44.0s, "par" sects: 38.6s last 3f; 26.3s last 2f; 13.5s last 1f)
1m 45.45 plus = HEAVY ("par" sects of following or higher: 39.2s last 3f; 26.6s last 2f; 13.7s last 1f)
(Times for Frankel on GOOD in 2011: 1m 39.45s --- 35.67s, 24.68s, 12.75s)
These time ranges have been engineered from the weight carried and expected ability of this year's winners, though wide-margin or narrow-margin winners may make a slight difference to those expectations.
Times may be affected by factors other than ability, weight carried and going, of course, not least the early pace of a race. To this end, closing sectionals are also given that could be expected of a horse running the specified overall race time.
Sectionals - which are due to be provided at Ascot by TurfTrax again - that are markedly quicker or slower than these "pars" may indicate that the ground is not so testing as the overall time would imply, as they reflect an early pace that is either slower or faster than ideal.
We hope that readers will find the information useful as a rough guide to the apparent state of the going and to the performances against the clock of infdividual horses within the races themselves.
A full debrief of performances, including in terms of overall times and sectionals, will appear on these pages after the event.
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