John Wootton: Racing on the Round Course at Newmarket c 1750
Betfred Cesarewitch Handicap 2m 2f Newmarket Saturday – The Cesarewitch isn’t the longest flat race in the Calendar but is certainly one of the most stamina sapping. Starting in Cambridgeshire, the 2m2f contest takes a sharp right hand turn, and the large field then has to endure a non-stop relentless gallop up the Rowley Mile, to finish in the neighbouring county of Suffolk. Faced with such a challenge it comes as no great surprise, that almost invariably, the winner boasts previous winning form at two miles on the Flat or over hurdles. Surprisingly for such a long race the draw has proved significant, with thirteen of the sixteen winners this century starting from a berth lower than nineteen. Another relevant statistic is that half the winners in the same period have come from yards predominantly National Hunt in character, a stat which makes David Pipe’s 5yo, Starchitect, of definite interest.
Pipe Junior has never won the race, (has gone close on two occasions) but his father Martin hit the back of the net twice, (Heros Fatal, 2000 and Miss Fara two years later) so they certainly know what is required down at Nicholashayne. Starchitect is a beautifully bred animal, by Sea the Stars out of a Sadlers Wells mare, and he is better known for his achievements as a hurdler. He came second in the hugely competitive Betfair Hurdle at Newbury in Febuary, and put up solid performances at both the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals. He demonstrated his stamina credentials for this when winning over 21f in his last outing over hurdles, earning the impressive NH rating of 150. He won the last of his five flat starts, a 14f Salisbury handicap in May, earning a rating of 89 and virtually assuring himself of a place in Saturday’s contest. In the light of his NH rating he looks really well treated, and it will come as no surprise to see him involved at the business end on Saturday.
Sir Mark Prescott’s 3yo colt St Michael, ran a fine race to finish 3rd in a truly run, 2m2f Doncaster Cup, twenty nine days ago, finishing 3rd, a nose and 2 1/4L behind Sheikzayedroad and Quest for More, and, as the latter won the Group1 Prix du Cadran at Chantilly last Saturday, the form looks pretty impressive. As St Michael stuck on well at Doncaster, and had won his two previous races authoritatively, with only 8st6lbs on his back at the weekend, he certainly looks well treated, and is a worthy favourite. However he does need four above him in the handicap to come out if he is to get a run, so a waiting brief is advised.
Horses who have performed well in The Cesarewitch often do so again, so connections of last year’s hero Grumeti, must be hoping that at least three above him drop out, and he gets a run. He hasn’t exactly been setting the world alight following last years triumph, but he has had a nice break since June and is only 1lb higher than last year. A repeat of last years 50/1 victory is not just a forlorn hope!
Tony Martin won this with Leg Spinner in 2007 and attempts to bring home the bacon for the second time with the very useful Pyromaniac. The 6yo looks well treated on a mark of 87, and he ran a sound race last time, going down by a neck to stable companion, Quick Jack over 14f at Leopardstown four weeks ago off the same mark.The question is will he stay, as he has been campaigned mostly at distances shorter than 2m. However he did win his only race over two miles, a highly competitive Curragh handicap back in May 2015, and more recently was seen finishing to some effect in a strongly run Killarney 17f handicap hurdle, to take third place. He has been finishing his races off well, and it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that his uber-shrewd handler thinks that his contender might well be suited by this step up in trip. Another for the shortlist!
David Simcock runs his strong stayer, The Cashel Man, and the 4yo gelding did his prospects no harm at all when coming home in second place in the trial for this three weeks ago, which was run over the course and distance. He was beaten 3L off Saturday’s mark of 89, but as the race was very steadily run, in a time more than 15 seconds slower than standard, and the horse suffered interference 4f out, he can only benefit from a much truer run contest at the weekend. Worth considering!
The 9yo Irish mare, Jennies Jewel has won three of her seven flat races, including this year’s Ascot Stakes over 20f at the Royal Meeting. She showed courage in abundance that day, making all, and holding on to deny Qewy by a neck. She was beaten early on in a heavy ground 2m Curragh handicap three weeks ago, but after more than three months off the racecourse she is easily excused. This admirable Grade3 winning chaser, and Grade1 placed hurdler, racing on Saturday off a mark only 5lbs higher than Royal Ascot, could make her presence felt, particularly if we get some rain.
E.W. : The Cashel Man