My next rambling as i dance between sanity and insanity at being shut in a house with my 3 kids concerns is all those other things that can make a horse go faster and those illusive hidden traits the improvement curve and the class gene.
I will start with the other stuff, things like adds. I wrote a while a go about the intricacies of instructions so wont touch on them again because that can of worms has been opened, shut and shaken up since then.
So the adds i am talking about are bute, Lasix, a shadow roll and blinkers and finally gelding. There are some things written in the rules about each of them but i feel these are written with a little ‘gamesmanship’ in mind and whilst i enjoy the thought that lasix may stem bleeding in my horse i cant get away from the fact that its not a real horse at all but a little line of code.
So i see each of these as one of quite a few ways to add or subtract from my horses base ability. lets say my little line of code is given a hidden rating at birth. For arguments sake lets say its 50. That rating is the best it can be at that time if i dont screw anything up and by screwing it up i mean putting the wrong adds on it, working it too much or putting a 3% jockey on it in a race. So when i try the adds i get a variety of works times which can differ by as much as a second. With 50 being its base rating i could add maybe 5 by getting the adds right or take away 5 by getting them wrong. This would immediately affect its ability come race day between winning a maiden or finishing fifth.
So these adds dont stop a horse winning against horses that are rated say 40 whatever i use but they would affect its chances against horses rated 54 if you follow my rather incoherent train of thought.
Now gelding is different. It is stated that gelding wont improve a horse but it will allow it to reach its full potential more consistently and that is important if you see a horses works going up and down or some level of degrading in a young horse.
So using the adds correctly can make your horse perform better but nothing can make it perform better than its rating….or can it?
Well the key thing here is knowing your horse can only perform to its best rating but other superior horses could perform below theirs. Preparing your horse is just one part of a long story, a story that involves several other attributes that will affect the way it runs in a race.
So next comes the ‘improvement curve’. Our horse with a rating of 50, thats its maximum potential at that given time will grow and mature and go through a natural improvement. This improvement will carry it to its maximum potential rating that may move through to say 75 before heading back down to 50 as it goes past its time of maximum potential. Its worth noting that the improvement curve again only maps its maximum potential its us as players that have to try and work out how to reach that. The frequency of works and the frequency of races as well as age and growth will start to move the horse away or closer to its maximum potential as it moves through its career. I have seen many horses that seem to rapidly improve at race 28 when in fact it wasnt rapid improvement just a combination of things allowing that horse to get closer to its maximum potential.
The final thing i want to talk about is the ‘class’ gene and the ‘desire’ gene which may indeed be the same thing in the code but for the sake of this piece i will treat them differently. Some horses can work fast times but just cant win a race whilst others may work slower times but be competitive in a graded stakes race. An example of this could be a 4 year old called Dress To Impress who worked 57.60 in a 5 furlong dirt work recently compared to the current BC Mile champ, Unfold, who worked slower time a few weeks later. Now their records are vastly different, Dress To Impress with just two wins from 15 starts and $100 in prize money compared to Unfold who has won 4 from 14 and amassed 1.5K in prize money. The difference could be that they both have a similar maximum rating but Unfolds trainer is able to get his horse closer to its rating but i am not sure thats the case, i think it has something to do with the two genes mentioned above. The problem is those genes cant be added they are there from birth so if your horse hasnt got one or both it never will have.
So how do we discover whether our horses have these genes or not? Well i can tell you i have several horses that work as fast as my best but just cant win a race, thats the desire gene as clear as the nose on my face. It doesnt mean they will never win, it just means that i will have to enter well below their work out ability to find those wins. The class gene is different. Many horses go through the grades winning competitive allowances but when they hit stakes races they just cant get the job done, we all have them, my most obvious one is a horse called Bubba Kush. Now its interesting that i mention that horse because he has in fact won a graded stakes so how can i say he hasnt got the class gene if he can win that stakes race. Well, if your horse is in a field of horses that are significantly hampered by a downward trend in their improvement curve, have been badly trained and are therefore not close to their maximum potential or have a similar lack of class or desire gene then your horse could win a stakes race, it just wont be able to do it unless those rare conditions are met.
So there we are, adding to my last ramblings about how to have success at HRP this is another page to consider or ignore when buying, training or just betting on a horse.
Its important to note that there are many other things during a race that can affect your horses chances but just like real life, we, as trainers can only do our bit and thats get them to the races with their best possible chance.
Of course we are left with the last in the pile of things that help us win or lose and that is the use of instructions. I must admit this to me is the biggest variant in the game and one that still causes me to scratch my head at times. An example of that head scratching came today when i set a horse out for a maiden. Im A Gonna Here was the favorite for the race and had the sites award winning jockey Bejarano on board. She had run consistently well in all his races displaying a need to sit off the pace regardless of which instructions i used ( CL, HL and A had all given me the same racing style as you can see). So i made the choice to let the outstanding AI of Bejarano coupled with my horses natural closing style to do its own thing and set HL. I was worried that if i set a restraining instruction she may get too far behind and if i set a forward instruction she may burn out too soon, thus i felt like HL was the right decision.
Well it wasnt !! Going to the lead she fell apart pretty quickly to finish a distant third and once more i was left scratching my head.
The question i now have to ask myself is three fold…..is she lacking the desire gene, (she is displaying all the traits so far), did the AI ruin her chances by making a bad decision as i left that decision to it, or was my instruction the wrong one?
Sadly for me it looks like i may have another in my growing list of desireless horses but i still have to wonder whether my horse would have won had i set a different instruction.
Well until my next rambling offer in this time of uncertainty for us all, Good luck, stay well and keep trying.