Betfred Cesarewitch Handicap 2m2f Newmarket Saturday

First run in 1839, the race was named in honour of the Russian Crown Prince, The Tsesarevich, (reportedly after a donation by him of £300 to the Jockey Club). The unfortunate prince later became the Tsar, Alexander 11, and was assassinated in 1881. Punters, while not exactly suffering the ultimate fate of poor old Alexander, haven’t fared particularly well in recent renewals of the contest. Only two “Jollies” have come home in front since the great Vintage Crop prevailed as 5/1 fav in 1992, and in the past decade we have seen one winner returned at 66/1, two at 50/1, and a 25/1 shot collect the prize, so don’t be put off by a long price. The race, which uniquely starts in one county and finishes in another, (starts in Cambridgeshire and crosses the border into Suffolk) has only the one slight change of direction, at the 10 furlong marker, and this almost straight two miles two furlongs gallop, puts a unique premium on stamina. Jockeys struggle to get a breather into their mounts in this nonstop charge across the heath, so very rarely does an animal without winning form at a minimum of two miles on the flat or over hurdles prevail.

The 4yo, Withhold, was trained last term by Charlie Hills, and following some nondescript efforts, showed improved form when given a test of stamina. The son of Champs Elysee put up an excellent performance when getting the better of Saturday’s opponent, London Prize, over two miles at Haydock last October, winning by 3/4L and he now meets the runner up on 8lbs better terms on Saturday. Transferred to the Roger Charlton (pictured) yard, Withhold wasn’t seen again until reappearing in a mile and a half Newbury Handicap last month where he proved his well-being, finishing third over the inadequate trip. He was keeping on nicely in the final furlong off a mark of 87 and is bound to have benefited hugely from the run after such a long break. He races on Saturday off the same mark, and looks a well handicapped animal with a nice racing weight of 8-8 to carry. With Silvestre De Sousa doing the steering he has to be of interest.

Now six, London Prize didn’t see a racecourse until he was four. He made his debut in a two miles Worcester national hunt flat race in June 2015 which he duly won when trained by John Ferguson. Transferred to the Ian Williams yard the following May, progress was slow, until running Withhold close in that Haydock contest last October, racing off a mark of 72. Since then progress has been dramatic highlighted by a win in the prestigious Imperial Cup over hurdles at Sandown, off a mark of 137, and three further victories on the flat, culminating in a win in the valuable Northumberland Plate consolation race in July off a mark of 89. By Teofilo whose progeny stay well, and out of a mare who has produced the 3mile chaser Categorical and the stayer, Daghash on the flat this tough battler shouldn’t fail for want of stamina and looks reasonably treated on his new mark of 95.

Alan King won this with the 50/1 outsider Grumeti two years ago and considering the way his 5yo, Who Dares Wins, stayed on so resolutely to take The Cesarewitch Trial over course and distance three weeks ago, he must be more than a little hopeful of finding himself back in the winners enclosure on Saturday. Staying is the name of the game for Who Dares Wins as he also demonstrated when staying on strongly to finish a close fourth in the 2m2 1/2f Chester Cup. A winner of a Class1 Newbury Handicap Hurdle with 11-10 in the plate he should cope with a four pounds rise for his Trial victory and doesn’t look overburdened with 9-4 on Saturday.

The Willie Mullins trained, Laws Of Spin did well to win last year’s Irish Cesarewitch (2m good) as a three year old at the Curragh by 1 1/4L from the year older Cradle Mountain, staying on well off a mark of 89. Brought along slowly this term by master trainer Mullins, he came good again last time when winning a valuable 1m5f Leopardstown Handicap off a mark of 97 five weeks ago. He is up another four pounds on Saturday giving him a hefty looking 9-8 to carry but Aim To Prosper won with two pounds more five years ago and Sergeant Cecil carried 9-8 successfully in 2005.

The beautifully bred John Constable, who currently heads the market, hasn’t raced on the flat for over three years, when he was trained by Aidan O’Brien, for whom he had a pretty undistinguished career. This 6yo son of the brilliant Montjeu, is out of that highly talented mare, Dance Parade, who won both The Queen Mary, and Fred Darling Stakes, and is a full brother to the Ascot Gold Cup winner Leading Light. The only success he had for O’Brien was in a 13f Navan maiden, but his talented Welsh trainer, Evan Williams, seems to have found the key to him, and he has really blossomed over hurdles wearing a tongue tie. Having won his last two races he now has a very flattering rating of 156 in that discipline. If this improvement over hurdles, mirrors a commensurate improvement on the flat, he looks extremely well treated on a mark of 89 and would be a serious blot on the handicap.

Selection : Withhold

E.W. : London Prize

John Gray

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Cesarewitch Handicap Newmarket 2m2f (Rowley) Saturday

Low Key

The market for this year’s renewal is headed by the David Pipe trained 8yo Low Key and he certainly has plenty to recommend him.

It takes a true stayer to succeed in this unique stamina test, as most of the race is run in a straight line, affording little if any opportunity to get a blow into your animal during the relentless pillar to post gallop. Having exited the stalls in Cambridgeshire, the field takes a sharp right turn and makes it a hell for leather charge across Newmarket Heath to eventually join the Rowley mile and pass the winning post in the adjoining county of Suffolk. Winning form over at least two miles on the flat, or good winning form over hurdles is highly desirable.The race is often targeted by National Hunt stables, with such names as Pipe, Revely, Fitzgerald, Henderson, Martin, and Hobbs figuring on the roll of honour in the last quarter century. Indeed Philip Hobbs has figured twice in the last decade, with Detroit City (2006) and last year with Big Easy. His candidate this year, the ex French Golden Doyen, would be worth a second look, but needs nine above him in the handicap to come out to get a run.

The market for this year’s renewal is headed by the David Pipe trained 8yo Low Key and he certainly has plenty to recommend him. He won the Cesarewitch Trial over course and distance three weeks ago with the very promising 3lbs claimer Tom Marquand in the plate, racing off a mark of 82. He stayed on strongly to beat another of Saturday’s contenders, Encrypted Message by 3 1/2L and should confirm the form at the weekend. He has now won five times, (twice over hurdles) for the Nicholshane Maestro, who clearly has discovered the key to this eight year old, who only joined the team last year. He has already improved by at least 25lbs since joining the Pipe Academy so Saturday’s mark of 86 looks highly doable and with young Marquand again claiming 3lbs his prospects look decidedly rosy.

Another National Hunt trainer, Lucy Wadham, has an interesting contender with her 6yo gelding Noble Silk, partnered by Oisin Murphy. He ran a fine race over 2m4f at Royal Ascot keeping on well to finish 4th to Clondaw Warrior to whom he was conceding 5lbs. Following a nine weeks break, he disappointed at York but ran a more promising trial for this last time at Doncaster, going down by 3L over an inadequate 14f off a mark of 94. Bound to be much better suited by Saturday’s trip and racing off 94 again, the current odds of 40/1 look generous, and having had a light campaign is one for the short list.

Tony Martin’s Quick Jack who finished a close third last year, tries again off a 7lbs higher mark and this tough competitor, who won the hugely competitive Galway Hurdle at the end of July merits maximum respect. He was a gallant second in the Chester Cup in May going down by 3/4L to the subsequent Ascot Gold Cup winner Trip To Paris to whom he was conceding 6lbs. After his Galway triumph he never got going when favourite for the Ebor Handicap at York seven weeks ago. Badly drawn over an inadequate trip the York form can be ignored, but in view of his run in this last year, and his second in the Chester Cup, I wonder if he quite gets home over 18f. Certainly off a 7lbs higher mark than last year he has it all to do.

There is the whiff of a “Prescott plot” about the way Sir Mark’s William Of Orange has been campaigned. Placed over 14f in his first two races this year, he ran his best race of the season when upped to 16f at York in July, running on strongly to take second at the post, 3/4L behind Eshtiall after a troubled passage. Subsequently tried over 21f at Goodwood he didn’t seem to quite get home, and then, having been sent to the front for the first time, in an attempt to make all,in his last race, the Doncaster Cup, he faded from two furlongs out to finish seventh behind stablemate Pallasator. He races off a mark only 5lbs higher than that promising run at York, so it would be no surprise to see him involved at the finish.

Roger Varian’s 4yo Montjeu gelding Steve Rogers looked well suited by the step back up in trip when taking a two mile Cl3 Chester handicap four weeks ago off a mark of 83. There was nothing special about the form, but he did travel really well throughout and went about his business very professionally when asked. A winner of five of his seven races since January and racing off a mark of 87 this very genuine animal may well live up to merit his Captain America pseudonym*.

*Steve Rogers was the alter-ego of Captain America.

Selection: Low Key

E.W. : William Of Orange