Optimisation: Flemington Style

My talk at the AIS last month had optimisation of performance as an important theme.
I believe optimisation is an interdisciplinary process in high performance sport that is focused by the pedagogical prowess of a coach understanding strategy and tactics and the ability of an athlete to be sufficiently in the moment to realise an optimum performance.
Flemington Racecourse’s tweets of the final 400 metres of #MelbCupCarnival races has been a great resource to prompt thoughts of optimisation.
Yesterday, Lasqueti Spirit, an outsider, won the Victorian Oaks.

In 2011, David Evans and Paul McGreevy suggested that “Horses, on average, achieved highest speeds in the 600 to 400 m section”.
I have taken grabs of the Oaks video at each 100 metre intervals from 400 metres out.
At 400 metres, Lasqueti Spirit is in the lead, the horse that will finish second, Harlow Gold, is in 6th place, Eleaonora, the horse that will finish 3rd is 2nd:
At 300 metres, the lead is maintained, Eleaonora 2nd, Harlow Gold still in 6th place:
At 200 metres still a clear lead, Eleaonora 2nd, Harlow moves to 5th:
At 100 metres, clear lead, Eleaonora 2nd, with Harlow into 3rd place
Finish Line: Lasqueti Spirit wins, Harlow 2nd and Eleaonora 3rd. Final 400 metres in 26.3 seconds:
An ABC News report of the race included:

Jockey Brenton Avdulla adopted daring front-running tactics and set a breakneck speed, with the short-priced favourite Yankee Rose at one stage over 30 lengths off the pace. “We thought realistically we could run well without winning … I was riding a good clip here and if I could go on with it and get her flowing that would be my best chance.”

“She has one speed. We hatched out a plan with Brenton and the owners and the manager,” said winning trainer Lee Curtis. “She should have got beat a furlong. She is tough at home but she hasn’t got class but she has a turn of foot. She is a one-batter and she loves it.”

In Racing.Com, Brendan Avdulla is quoted:

“At about the 1000, I thought we could finish top eight and then at the 400 I saw I was still five lengths clear and I thought ‘She could hang on for a top five’. But she just didn’t stop and suddenly I thought ‘I can win this’.”

Lasqueti Spirit was a 100-1 outsider in the Oaks. She led the race after 40 seconds. Racing.Com have a video of the whole race here.
Not all front runners win but in the Oaks, a pre-race plan was delivered and a performance outcome optimised.


I am grateful to @DownIsTheNewUp for this clarification:

and this sharing of insight:



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