Occasionally, a horse will romp clear and win a race with consummate ease – it could be that they possess more class than their opponents, or have simply benefited from a perfectly timed ride from the jockey on board.
However, it’s incredibly rare that a horse charges into a huge lead from starter’s orders until the final post, with no challenge to their superiority at any point.
But that’s exactly what happened when Wanaasah, a 12/1 hope with the bookies and out for the first time at the two-mile mark, ran a hot pace from the get-go in the Betway Apprentice Handicap, 16:10, at Wolverhampton on Wednestday 15th January 2020.
No other horse got within 15 lengths of the winner until the dying embers of the race, and the action was so bizarre that the BHA have now announced they will be running a ‘thorough’ investigation into the Class 4 outing at Wolverhampton.
|1st||Wanaasah||Dylan Hogan||David Loughnane||12/1||–|
|2nd||Fearless Warrior||Georgie Dobie||Eve Johnson Houghton||4/1||+ 5½|
|3rd||Dance To Paris||Elisha Whittington||Lucy Wadham||9/2||+ 11|
|4th||Purdey’s Gift||William Carver||Andrew Balding||11/8F||+ hd|
|5th||Cotton Club||Sean Davis||George Boughey||40/1||+ 2|
|6th||Monjeni||Thomas Greatrex||Ian Williams||50/1||+ 2½|
|7th||Forth Bridge||William Cox||Charlie Longsdon||40/1||+ 1|
|8th||Author’s Dream||Pierre-Louis Jamin||William Knight||11/1||+ 3½|
|9th||Divine Gift||Ben Robinson||Iain Jardine||18/1||+ 9|
|10th||Praeceps||Toby Eley||Alan King||20/1||+ 3½|
The race was greeted with a lengthy inquiry from chief steward Greg Pearson and his team, who did not wield any punishments on the other jockeys in the race for failing to make it competitive, but that will not be the end of the scrutiny.
“We heard lengthy evidence from all the riders of the beaten horses. The explanations were noted but that does not mean the case is closed,” Pearson confirmed afterwards. “There will be a thorough analysis of the sectional times and betting patterns on the race later this week by the BHA integrity department.”
How the Action Played Out
Unfancied by the betting market, Wanaasah was taking a leap into unknown territory at a longer mark.
But trainer David Loughnane saw something in his horse, and tasked jockey Dylan Hogan to go hard from the start.
Afterwards, the nine apprentice jockeys that were questioned about their ride by the stewards said they had considered such a ferocious early pace to be ‘very quick and unsustainable’.
The riders also noted that they didn’t expect they would have gotten any closer – Wanaasah led by 15 lengths with a circuit to go before slowing at the line to win by five-and-a-half lengths – had they run quicker from the word go.
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) 15 January 2020
Stewards noted their observations, however the matter has now been passed on to the BHA, who will investigate betting patterns and sectional times to determine if there has been any foul play.
Hogan simply claimed that he had a fantastic horse at his disposal, and that there was nothing untoward about his manner and margin of victory.
“I went a good gallop but she kept at it and the moment I asked her for more she was relentless,” Hogan said afterwards. “She’s very genuine. I was surprised the others didn’t come after me earlier.”
Meanwhile, trainer Loughnane told Sky Sports Racing: “She’s [Wanaasah] got one gear and is so genuine. She has great stamina and if she was bigger she’d be going jumping.
“I said to Dylan I’ll take the blame if she gets beat, as everyone who has rode her has come back in and said they haven’t gone quick enough.”
The sectional race times at Wolverhampton are provided by Total Performance Data, and the early signs are that Hogan ran a confident, aggressive and well-judged race.
However, the stats may also suggest that the rest of the field left it too late to try and claw back that lead, so it will be interesting to see how the BHA plays it.