2014 Cambridgeshire Handicap Preview, Trends, Tips
It's one of the biggest field handicaps of the year on Saturday, the Betfred Cambridgeshire, run over the relatively sparsely used distance of nine furlongs, or a mile and one furlong if you prefer. Just the 35 go to post, so finding a winner should be a simple enough task. Ahem.
Let's start with the trends...
2014 Cambridgeshire Handicap Trends
These trends cover the 17 renewals since 1997, and are largely courtesy of my friends at horseracebase.
15/17 (88%) finished in the first five last time out, from 59% of the runners
Horses aged seven or over are 0 from 57 since 1997 (just four placed). The last 7yo+ to win was Rambo's Hall in 1992.
Only six winners since 1977 have carried more than 9-03. Prior to Educate's win last year, the previous heavy weight carrier to win was Cap Juluca in 1995.
Blindly backing the favourite for a level point (one point each on joint or co favourites) would have returned a profit of 30.5 points since 1990.
12/17 (71%) had a win over a longer distance, from 43% of the runners. And those with two or more distance (i.e. nine furlong) wins claimed two winners (12%) and three further placed horses, from 25 runners (4%).
As for the draw, well, that's a conundrum. It's likely that pace is more relevant than ground, as is generally the case, and the pace looks to be mainly high. I wouldn't be confident of that, but I'll probably take two high drawn and one low drawn, if I can find that many with compelling profiles.
Ignoring the draw, the trends shortlist consists of just two: Queensberry Rules and Forgotten Hero, both of whom have won over ten furlongs or more.
2014 Cambridgeshire Handicap Form Preview
A hugely challenging form puzzle, and one in which most have some sort of chance. Educate won this off near top weight last year, and if that type of weight-carrying performance is to be matched this time it might be John Ryan's in form Tenor.
A winner of four of his last seven starts, including in Listed class, and second twice in that sequence too, including another Listed event, Tenor is progressive and in top form. Whilst all those runs were over the flat mile, he has won over a mile and a quarter. Drawn high and with tactical pace to take advantage of it, he is effectively only two pounds higher than that Listed win with Joe Doyle nicking five pounds off his back. That could help Tenor outrun odds of 33/1.
The favourite, bidding to improve the overall record of market leaders and to double up after his trainer's win in the Silver Cambridgeshire, is Cornrow. John Gosden is in great form, as two wins on the track on Friday indicates, and Cornrow is also drawn in the high numbers. Although he's led in his last couple of races he doesn't need to, and that looks significant as it will be extremely hard to win from the front in a thirty-plus runner straight line cavalry charge.
The trip is an unknown for him, however, and on breeding it looks to be at the upper limit of his range. Although he's lightly raced and has lots of scope to be better than he's so far displayed, his price is unexciting except in the context of a stake-covering saver for a more adventurous tilt.
Luca Cumani's Velox is second choice currently, and he has had five attempts at winning a race between nine and ten furlongs without success. He looked a bit jaded in that last Doncaster run, meaning I'm happy to overlook his chance.
Likewise, Hugo Palmer's excellent warrior, Extremity, is overlooked on the basis that he is unlikely to be better at this longer trip. His breeding says seven to a mile, and all of his form says the same. Of course, he could stay the extra trip, but at the prices there are not enough positive incentives to take the risk.
Queensberry Rules has to be on the shortlist. Not only does he fit the trends snugly, but he comes from the bang in form William Haggas stable (two winners here yesterday) and he has the piloting services of Ryan Moore. Having been campaigned primarily at ten furlongs this term, he drops back an eighth of a mile, and I do like a 'turn back play' horse.
A winner on his previous outing at York's Ebor meeting, Queensberry Rules has what I think will be a beneficial draw in 33, close to the rail. At 16/1, and with SEVEN places up for grabs with Hills, he's a very solid player each way.
Niceofyoutotellme stays this far (course and distance win in May) and further (three prior wins over ten and eleven furlongs), and although he's not ostensibly in great shape, he's been laid out for this all season. Fast ground is to his advantage, though his middling draw may not be ideal for a perennial hold up horse. He could be staying on through horses beaten on the wrong side of the track.
I respect both Educate (too much weight, ground too quick) and Bancnuanaheireann (too old, maybe not quite good enough) without fancying their chances.
One I'd like to mention at a huge price is Genius Boy and Ingleby Angel. Genius Boy has run three times over nine furlongs and won all three. It is a specialist trip and so that's an eye-catching return. He's also won four of his six races on good to firm ground. Since his last win, he's been beaten twice, both over a sub-optimal mile: first in a Group 3 won by Captain Cat, and then on heavy ground, which he'd have hated.
It's not too difficult to forgive those two efforts and, prior to them, he had won four on the bounce. Back on quick ground and over nine furlongs, 50/1 with Hills paying SEVEN places just has to be taken! He's drawn on the cusp of the pace, in 21, and Kieran Shoemark is a talented enough amateur who claims a valuable seven pounds for a trainer in decent form.
2014 Cambridgeshire Handicap Form Tips
Obviously, this is more for bragging rights than any sensible investment planning, but I do think my trio have a better than average chance of getting involved. Many bookmakers are offering extended place concessions, and you should be getting involved where the combination of odds and places is optimal for your fancies.
In my case at time of writing, that means the following:
Back Tenor each way at 33/1 with Stan James offering FIVE places
Back Queensberry Rules each way at 16/1 with William Hill offering SEVEN places
Back Genius Boy each way at 50/1 with William Hill offering SEVEN places
And finally - obviously, I hope - do check the latest odds and offers as they are all subject to change, of course.
And which ones do you like? Leave a comment and let us know.
p.s. there are plenty of specials available today. Here are some of the ones I'm paying close attention to...
Cheveley Park Stakes (3.10 Newmarket) - Money back if second (£20 max stake) with Racebets (maybe Tendu can go close)
2.15 Market Rasen - Money back as a free bet if you finish second or third (£50 max stake) with Paddy (maybe Roman Flight is the one)
Oh, and no bookie concession, but I've also backed Online Alexander at 8/1 each way (4.10 Haydock) to get any losses back!