Wide open handicaps take centre stage this weekend at Newmarket and York, with the centrepiece being the Cesarewitch , a long distance marathon at 3.50
It’s always a surprise to see how a race over 18 furlongs on a relatively straight course can be thought of as having a draw bias but stats will point towards a low draw having an edge in this race and those that got a high number have seen prices pushed out.
While there might be a slight advantage/disadvantage for those wanting a prominent position, I don’t see why prices should be pushed out quite so much here, and wouldn’t be put off backing a high drawn runner.
Never Can Tell (2011) and Tom Sharp (1984) both won the race from wide outside draws by racing prominently – both were excellent rides – but generally I’d be more in favour of a horse who has a high numbered box that needs to be held up and doesn’t waste excess energy in getting to the front before the one real bend in the race..
Last year, Scatter Dice won from 18, but started so poorly and came wide round the field that it’s hard to imagine she wouldn’t have won from any draw. Lieutenant Miller was just behind in 3rd from stall 32 after holding every chance.
King Revo in 2005 was given the perfect hold up ride to look all over the winner from stall 36, only to be caught close home by the phenomenon that was Sergeant Cecil (Inchnadamph out of stall 33 chasing them both home)
As I’ve discounted the draw angle a bit, time to pinpoint a few runners on some criteria that I think matter more
Last years race:
It’s often noticeable to see horses running in this more than once and consistently performing well. Aaim to Prosper was a real race specialist; Caracciola in 2008 also seemed to thrive here, and we can find others in past results who have won / run well in the race more than once – Distant Prospect, Mamlook, Inchnadamph immediately spring to mind. It’s probably because it’s the only real long distance handicap of the year that is guaranteed a good gallop throughout that brings out their best performances
From last year therefore the main candidate would appear to be the second, Waterclock (draw 3). He’s on a 6lb lower mark this year but this is where the positives end. He changed stables after this race and hasn’t shown any form since to suggest he has retained that ability. Not far behind were Jonny Delta (draw 16 – similar mark this year) and Moidore (draw 4 – slightly hampered and could have finished closer –likes soft ground)
I’m less inclined to use the ‘Cesarewitch Trial’ race as a pointer since its usually a smaller field and (like this year’s renewal) run at a slower pace. This year, Big Easy (draw 2)and Ray Ward (draw 32) both ran well in the race (Mubaraza didn’t perform at all well) – at least it shows their ability to act on the track
With a good pace highly likely , the ability to stay further than this 2ml 2furlong trip is paramount. A few good dual purpose horse have won the race but commonly most of them were effective over 2.5 – 3 miles over hurdles
This sort of puts me off the fav Quick Jack (draw 12) a little who hasn’t really convinced that he wants further than 2 miles over flat or hurdles as yet. His price is no doubt influenced by a fear factor involving his trainer Tony Martin (well known for a plot) –and he isn’t certain to confirm Galway form with Swnymor (draw 34 – another who has to prove himself on the stamina front and may have a preference for softer ground). Tony Martin did land the race with Leg Spinner in 2007 (an expensive race for the bookies) but that one was effective at further over hurdles
Nearly Caught (draw 5) and Rhombus (35) are others who have stamina to prove amongst the favs though both have looked like they could get further than 2 miles in the past. De Rigueur and Communicator will also be stepping into some unknown territory.
The Ascot Hcap and Goodwood Hcap are the two most similar events in the calendar that would advertise stamina. We can take Sohar ( draw 36) and Ray Ward from the former race this year (latter very unlucky in running) ; Teak (draw 27) and Ray Ward from the latter (pictured fighting that one out)
It looked like the rain would have an effect in this earlier this week and soft ground was likely. It’s currently good with both sunshine and scattered showers possible so could go either way
Those with a big preference for softer ground; Big Easy, Moidore, Swnymor
Chances decreased by rain; Ray Ward, Teak
The one that ticks most boxes for me is Ray Ward. His draw at 32 might be perceived as a negative but he needs holding up anyway. Last time he wasn’t suited by the slow pace and some late rain and under current conditions I expect him to reverse form with Big Easy. His stamina is guaranteed and he could well have gone close to winning the Ascot Stakes earlier in the season but for being terribly hampered on the home turn. He gets a 5lb pull with Teak on Goodwood running – and has Newmarket course form which that rival doesnt
As long as good ground (or faster remains) he looks the best value having been pushed out to 16/1 for his draw. If the rains were to come and the ground to soften then his chance would diminish.
(In this scenario Big Easy and Moidore may become bigger players – though on current ground I do have a little niggle that Moidore wont have quite the pace to stay prominent from his low draw)
For a big priced outsider I look to last years 7th Jonny Delta. A replication of that effort should see him figure in the finish again. He advertised good recent form at Ayr and the same connections came very close to winning this race in 2010 with La Vecchia Scuola – I suspect they have had the race in mind again for some time and he has just scraped in with a nice low weight
Whatever you back though look for the place terms carefully!
At time of writing ¼ 123456 is available with some, 1st 5 with others…those offering ¼ 1234 should be avoided unless the win odds are noticeably higher
1pt ew Ray Ward (BetVictor 18/1 ¼ 12345 or Betfair Sportsbook 16/1 ¼ 123456)
0.5pts ew Jonny Delta (50/1 with 365/Skybet offering ¼ 12345; 40/1 Betfair Sportsbook ¼ 123456)
*RESULT – Neither got too competitive – Ray Ward crept into the race to have a chance but then couldnt quicken with the principals. I was a little unnerved in the morning that his trainer David Simcock didnt tip him on C4 and picked his stablemate and a horse from another stable in front of him! Maybe he was aware that Ray wasn’t in same form as earlier in year? I did think the winner, Big Easy was a big contender idf there was cut in the ground so did get caught by surprise a little as the rains hadn’t arrived. He has a very workable mark when going back over hurdles but this won’t have been missed by anyone so I don’t think we will see hiom overpriced for anything for a while *
For the other big handicap at York at 3.30 Coral Sprint Trophy
A highly competitive race with many capable at listed or even Group 3 level. Aetna has good course form and is bound to be popular but too skinny for me in such a race at around 7/2.
With soft ground looking likely, I am swayed towards my Ayr Gold Cup pick Supplicant, back on the sort of ground which suits him most. He lost all his low draw advantage at Ayr with a tardy start and never got into the race but showed shortly afterwards at Ripon that his time wasn’t far off. A Group 2 winner as a 2yo when conditions were soft, his mark has gradually slipped this season and Jack Garrity’s 5lb claim is an added bonus
At even bigger odds I can’t ignore the price about Arnold Lane who was rated 107 this time last year and gets 97 here. 7 furlongs is probably more his trip but the softer ground might blunt a few others. He won’t have been suited by the small field and having to make the running last time, and earlier season form over 6 furlongs and fast ground was always going to see him at a disadvantage
I would have preferred to see one of his regular riders on board but 50/1 is very big when you see how much better off he is with Spinatrix and Highland Colori from Doncaster on soft ground last year (16lbs for 4 lengths and 12lb for 5.5 lengths respectively)
1pt ew Supplicant 16/1 (365)
0.5 pts ew Arnold Lane 50/1 (Betfair Sportsbook)
Supplicant was moutning a challenge when become embroiled in a barging match and losing position. In truth I’m not sure it cost him a place anyway. Arnold Lane ran ok but just out of the money – 7 furlongs on this mark should see him returning to the winners enclosure but not sure if there is a race left for him this year *
Thanks for reading and wishing a profitable weekend to all
Comments as usual most welcome