The Cambridgeshire was first run in 1839 the same year as the other leg of the Autumn double the Cesarewitch. Run over 1m1f on the Rowley Mile course with its maximum field of 35 runners it is something of a cavalry charge. It has been described as a 1m1f sprint and assured stamina at the distance is essential.
Indeed ten of the last dozen winners had performed with merit over further. A good example is last year’s winner and this year’s top weight, Educate. He had won three times over 1m2f on ground varying from gd/fm to soft. Good recent form is important with precious few who have not finished in the first four in their previous outing winning.
Educate was an exception but he did finish a good fifth in the gp2 celebration mile in his previous race. Large field handicap form is most important with nine of the last ten winners having bagged one. Lightly raced animals with group potential are often seductive in their appeal in the Cambridgeshire but more often than not it is the battle hardened handicapper that prevails.
After Air Pilot’s stroll in the park at Newbury many see him as a good thing for Saturday. In a fifteen runner handicap on soft ground the Ralph Beckett trained 5yo gelding cruised into the lead two furlongs out, scooted clear, was heavily eased and won by 3 3/4L in a most impressive style. He is only penalised 4lbs on Saturday and as many good judges felt he was carrying some condition and was likely to come on for the race he does make a lot of appeal. However he does need ten above him in the handicap to come out to get a run. If he does get in he must have a great chance.
Luca Cumani who won the race twice in the 1980s has a very interesting runner in the 4yo Zaminder gelding Velox. He assured his participation on Saturday when increasing his mark from 88 to 95 by cantering up in a 1ml Sandown handicap in July. He disappointed over Goodwood’s idiosyncratic course next time but was back on course six weeks later when a good staying on third at Doncaster.
Now ridden by star apprentice Cam Hardie he meets Bronze Angel who was 1 1/4 L ahead of him ( and indeed won the Cambridgeshire in 2012 ) on 5 lbs better terms than Doncaster. He has the look of one laid out for this by his uber shrewd trainer and is one for the short list.
John Gosden who has the best record in the race over the past twenty years, runs the lightly raced 4yo New Approach colt, Cornrow. Not dissimilar in profile to Gosden’s 2008 winner Tajeez he has had only five outings, two of them on Kempton’s all weather track. Having won a 1ml Haydock cl 3 handicap off 87 he dropped down in trip to a 7F cl2 handicap at Ascot where he acquitted himself well with a staying on third beaten a hd and shd off a mark of 94. With these connections he must be considered but I wonder if his inexperience will count against him. There must also be some stamina doubts.
William Haggas has a likely type in his 4yo gelding Queensberry Rules. Generally competing over1ml 2f he returned to form last time at York winning a 1ml 2 1/2f fifteen runner handicap off 96. However he has been raised a rather severe 7lbs and I wonder if perhaps he needs further than 1ml 1f anyhow.
Hugo Palmer is quite bullish about his improving Exceed and Excell 3yo colt Extremity. He has a nice racing weight of 8st 7lbs and man of the moment Andrea Atzeni on board so merits plenty of respect. However one would have to say that the jury is out on his stamina credentials although Palmer sounds positive.
Finally last year’s winner Educate, despite being 6lbs higher, can certainly get involved. Running in a seven runner conditions race last time where he was fourth, would not have been his cup of tea, but given the hurly burly of Saturday’s 35 runner charge he will be in his element.
Selection Air Pilot. If absent Velox .