It doesn't get much more difficult than this, dear reader. A flat race, run over a straight course, at a barely raced distance, with almost as many runners (and certainly more finishers) than the Grand National. Are you sure?!
Yes, it can only be the Cambridgeshire. There is a reason why this race has been sponsored by a bookmaker for as long as I can remember, and I don't have any particular confidence that I can find the winner... but who's not going to bet in a conundrum like this?!
OK, to business.
3 and 4 year olds hold sway with seven of the last ten winners between them. Interestingly, the other three runnings were won by 6yo's, two of which started at fat prices (33/1 and 100/1), but only Nanton represents this age group in 2008...
For now though, we'll remove the four horses aged 7+ and the five 5yo's, leaving us with just the 26. Oh dear, this won't be easy.
The last six winners had all previously won at either the strange distance (1m1f) or had won at both a mile AND a mile and a quarter. Happily, we're now down to a dirty dozen.
The draw seems to have played some sort of part over the last decade, though the evidence is ambiguous at best. Not sure if ampolyguous is a word, but if it is, then that's what the evidence is!
However, it does appear that those drawn very low (in single figures) are at a disadvantage. Only eight single digit draws have placed in the first four in the last decade, and three of those were in the same year. Take that out and it's five from 36 places (13.89%) against a true probability of 9 stalls from 35 runners (25.71%).
I'll eliminate the lowest draws, leaving nine. The nonet from which I suspect the winner will emerge is:
Smokey Oakey, Tazeez, Dream Lodge, Yaddree, Siberian Tiger, Charlie Farnsbarns, Caravel, Military Power and Mia's Boy.
Aside from the two boilovers at 33/1 and 100/1 from 6yo's, there has only been one further winner priced bigger than 14/1 in the last ten years, and that was by Newmarket maestro David Elsworth (he also had Spanish Don at 100/1). Elsy is not represented this season, so I think I will look to the head of the market for my two against the field.
They are Yaddree and Caravel. The latter, a type of small ship popular in the 15th and 16th centuries I believe, ran up a typical sequence for Sir Mark Prescott last season, including two wins over the 9f trip. He's had two ok runs this year, and could be the one for tomorrow. Sir Mark won this race with 14/1 shot Chivalry in 2003, so knows what's required here.
Yaddree is from the white hot Michael Jarvis stable. Jarvis is a man to keep well on side - in my opinion, one of the best flat trainers in the game - and this fellow gained compensation for two placings in valuable Ascot handicaps with a distance win last time out at Newbury. He's as short as 8/1 with Coral but can be backed at 11's on betfair.
I'd be surprised if either of these went off any longer than the odds they are now, so my advice is get on early, and pull out the prayer mat!