Great Leighs finds a star

Great Leighs racecourse opened in April 2008 and closed just nine months later. In its short life span there were no major races and no notable horses graced the poly track surface. That may be about to change.

On 15 November 2008, two-year-old gelding trained by Willie Knight in West Sussex made its debut in a 1 mile, Class 4 maiden. Odds of 33/1 demonstrated that little was expected, so a third place finish probably came as something of a surprise, and hinted that this animal had rather more ability than he had shown at home.

Perhaps he just needed the right time of year. His next race took place on 8 December at Lingfield, and the horse, called December Draw, won it comfortably, though anyone hoping to pick up money for Christmas shopping would have been disappointed with the odds of 8/15.

Over the next 18 months December Draw ran a further 14 times, mostly on all-weather surfaces, and gained a further two successes. When Knight did enter him on the turf, he aimed high. However, a mid-division position in last year's Royal Hunt Cup and a similar placing in a Glorious Goodwood handicap suggested that too much was being asked of him.

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Fast forward nine months and head 12,000 miles down to Australia and December Draw’s story takes on an entirely different direction. Trained now by Mark Kavanagh, December Draw has won five of his six races in Australia since May this year. The latest of these was the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes, for which he earned £192,000 for his owners.

But it was the race before that, the Naturalism Stakes at the Caulfield circuit, which was the trigger that could lead to December Draw earning widespread recognition worldwide. That victory gave him automatic entry into this year's Caulfield Cup, which will be run early on Saturday morning (0605 UK time), and his latest success has propelled him into 6/4 favouritism for this race. That price is certain to shorten as there are substantial doubts about the participation of second favourite Lucas Cranach. Take note, and don't back Lucas Cranach until he is confirmed as a runner.

The two horses also share favouritism at 10/1 for the Melbourne Cup, to be run at the beginning of November, and victory for December Draw on Saturday will see his price contract for this race.

Victory in either the Caulfield Cup or the Melbourne Cup will make December Draw the most successful horse to have raced at the ill-fated Great Leighs track.

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1 reply
  1. Jim says:

    Ian

    Interesting piece – how do you dig them up???

    More interesting would be – what is the future for Great Leighs?
    I have been to all the English, Welsh and Scottish racecourses except Great Leighs and Ffos Las.
    I can still get to Ffos Las but not GL – hence my interest.

    keep the interesting pieces coming!!

    jim

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