Cesarewitch Preview, Trends, Tips
With three winners in the past six years priced at 50/1 or bigger, this race can hardly be described as one for the punters. But there is some good news too, in the shape of bookmakers' place odds concessions, with no fewer than SEVEN firms offering six places for each way players.
And, with eight favourites or joint-favourites making the frame in the last seventeen years, there is at least some hope with those extended place payoffs.
Cesarewitch 2014 Trends
We'll start with the trends for the race.
Since 1997, the score is 10-7 to the flat trainers over their National Hunt counterparts. And, since 2009, it's 5-0 to the flat brigade.
Messrs Johnston (three), Meehan, (Martin) Pipe, Henderson, and (Ian) Balding (two each) have all recorded multiple victories since 1997, so their entries deserve a double take. This year, Ian's son, Andrew, saddles Communicator and Debdebdeb; Johnston has Sir Frank Morgan; and Henderson runs Earth Amber.
Aside from Never Can Tell's incredible win from stall 36 - a supremely game effort under an inspired Frankie Dettori - in 2011, high drawn horses have a very moderate record. Indeed, only three of the last seventeen renewals have been won by a horse drawn 20+. By contrast, six winners - and another nine placed horses - in that time were drawn in stall four or lower.
Twelve of the last seventeen winners (71%) finished in the top four last time out, from 53% of the runners. Those top four last day runners also bagged another 35 places, aside from the dozen winners.
Since 1997, winners have been aged from three up to eleven, with those aged eight to eleven having the highest strike rate (four from 56, +83 points).
Weight stops trains, they say, but it has not made life tougher for the better class horses in the Cesarewitch. Since 1997, five of the seventeen winners (29%) carried more than 8-11. That was from 27% of the runners, implying that weight is not a material factor.
Pulling all of that together into anything remotely cohesive is a challenge, but I'd be keen on a horse that finished in the top four last time, which eliminates exactly half of the field.
I'd also discount any horse drawn 20 or higher, which removes a further six.
That leaves eleven: De Rigueur, Quick Jack, Communicator, Ted Spread, Big Easy, Moidore, Groovejet, Waterclock, Laughing Jack, Argent Knight and Jonny Delta. This is the group whose form will be further scrutinised...
Cesarewitch 2014 Form Preview
Favourite for the race is last time out scorer, Quick Jack, representing the wily stable of 2007 winner, Tony Martin. Drawn 12, the hooded five year old has been first or second in each of his last six flat starts. Moreover, he's won all three starts on good ground, tomorrow's forecast turf condition. And he loves a big field, having won four and placed in another three of his eight races of 16+ starters under all codes.
In short, Quick Jack has everything in his favour for a big run, except perhaps his price of 6/1, and the fact he's now nine pounds higher than his last win. Still, he remains tempting with six places available for insurance purposes. Richard Hughes will ride this obvious contender.
De Rigueur may offer a smidge more value in a race that has been won by plenty of big-priced beasts in the last few years. According to his trainer, Marco Botti, this former German-raced stayer wants soft ground. Curious, then, that one of his two runs over two miles was a win on good to firm; the other a neck second on the beach at Kempton. As a son of Montjeu, and if the trainer is correct (some of them occasionally are), any rain will be a bonus, so the soggy forecast can be considered a plus.
This will be De Rigueur's first attempt at beyond two miles, a trip for which his form suggests he may improve, and with the boy Andrea Atzeni on board and stall 13 no hindrance, 25/1 looks good value, even with 'only' five places to aim at.
Andrew Balding is still trying to emulate his old man, Ian, and given the recency of Uncle Toby's passing, it would be a poignant victory indeed should Communicator (or Debdebdeb) prevail. Communicator's main problem is his win strike rate: just two triumphs in 22 starts, but nine further podium positions makes this fellow a precarious win proposition. If one can overlook that, he has chances. Going and distance won't trouble him, as evidenced by a fine third behind Suegioo in the Chester Cup.
Ted Spread once ran in the Derby, but has had plenty of pastures new since that day in June 2011. Suzy Smith has eked a tune out of the lad since acquiring him at the end of last year, but he's not been on the track for 140 days, and I'd be looking elsewhere with the trip unproven too.
In 2006, Terry Warner's Detroit City won the Cesarewitch, trained by Philip Hobbs. The same squad attempt a repeat mission this year with Cesarewitch Trial runner-up, Big Easy. On the basis of that course and distance neck second, conditions will be fine, and the seven year old will be fitter than he was when only 21st in the race last year after a four month absence. Still, I'll let him beat me at around 11/1.
John Quinn saddles both Swnymor and Moidore, with the latter being a firmer profile fit, and having run a fair nine length tenth in the race last year. He was given plenty to do then by his inexperienced pilot from trap fifteen, and though he again has a five pound apprentice aboard, Joe Doyle has looked good value for the claim. Stall four is a big plus too.
Groovejet has run some gallant races in Pattern company recently, most notably when best of the rest behind facile victor, Silk Sari, in the Group 2 Park Hill Stakes last time. As a three year old, she gets a hefty twelve pound weight concession, and her age group have won twice from just 36 starters since 1997. That's a better win rate than four, five, six and seven year olds, though from a smaller sample size.
She remains progressive, and there are unlikely to be any Silk Saris in this field, so at 28/1 she's no forlorn hope, having been staying on over a quarter mile shorter that last day.
And the last to catch my eye is last year's second, Waterclock. He raced off a mark of 88 then, and beat all bar Scatter Dice. This time his rating is a mere 82, giving him a strong theoretical chance assuming this field is on a par with last year. He went into last year's race on the back of a fourth of nine in a two mile handicap, and he matched that feat precisely last time out in preparation for this big test. 40/1 looks very big for deja vu punters.
The remaining trio of Jonny Delta, Laughing Jack and Argent Knight don't look quite good enough for a race of this nature.
If there's one horse that might be a huge priced trends buster, it could be Sir Frank Morgan. Mark Johnston's only representative in a race he loves to win is a pointer of sorts to Sir Frank's chance, and Joe Fanning's probable aggressive tactics can mitigate a car park draw in 31. In a race largely devoid of early speed, this chap should be able to control things for a while at least, and he might give 'Hail Mary' players a brief thrill on his 22nd (TWENTY-SECOND!!!) start this season...
2014 Cesarewitch Tips
With 'just' 34 of them scheduled to face the starter, picking a winner is an obviously difficult task. Despite his clear-cut claims, Quick Jack ain't no value at 6/1, and I'll cuss and wipe my mouth if he prevails.
Against him, I'm quite sweet on Marco Botti's De Rigueur, for whom rain would be a bonus, but even without that, he has a solid profile, making 25/1 too big. Another who could be value is the progressive three-year-old filly, Groovejet. A literal interpretation of her Group 2 second last time would be the best recent form in the line up, and she could prove a bargain at 28/1 in a place.
Waterclock has been here and almost done this, finishing second last year, and that's enough to tempt me into a tiny win/place tickle at 40/1, especially as he's six pounds better off at the weights compared with a year ago.
De Rigueur 25/1 BetVictor 1/4 odds 1-2-3-4-5
Groovejet 28/1 BetVictor 1/4 odds 1-2-3-4-5
Waterclock 40/1 BetVictor 1/4 odds 1-2-3-4-5
As always, be sure and check the best prices in the 'village', and also note the place concessions.
Winner Sports for instance are offering SIX places each way, AND money back as a free bet if your choice finishes second or third. They're joint best price at 6/1 Quick Jack, so you could back him each way - 6/4 a place down to sixth position - and get the win part of your stake back as a free bet if he finishes on the podium without winning. Make sense? Good!
That offer is for new AND existing customers, but you do need to use this link apparently.
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