On Saturday the second leg of flat racing’s ‘autumn double’ takes place at Newmarket. The Cesarewitch was established in 1839 along with its handicap sibling the Cambridgshire.
Run over 2m 2f and finishing on the famous Rowley Mile it regularly attracts a large and competitive field. As such it has often become a bookies' accomplice as opposed to a punters' patron. The last two renewals were won by horses at 66/1, with only two favourites victorious in the last 20 years.
Aaim to Prosper became the only horse to win twice, when doing so in 2010 and 2012. His double was completed under the substantial burden of top weight. The race tends to favour those carrying less than nine stone, with only five horses since ’95 having carried more.
In recent times this famous ‘stayers’ event has been targeted by National Hunt trainers. Martin Pipe sent out the winner in 2000 and 2002. Nicky Henderson matched him in 2003 and 2008. In between there were wins for Philip Hobbs and Tony Martin. The latter has the market leader this time round with Quick Jack. Money has continued to come for the Irish raider during the week. The horse has a cracking record on the flat, finishing first or second in his last six outings. His most recent win came in a competitive handicap at Galway. Having Richard Hughes on-board is also a significant plus.
Jonjo O’Neill saddled third placed Tominator in 2012 and has another crack at the major prize with Saddlers Rock. An intriguing entrant formerly with John Oxx, this classy son of Sadlers Wells is on his lowest handicap mark since winning the Doncaster Cup in 2011. He’ll need decent ground to be seen at his best.
Nicky Henderson relies on Earth Amber. It’s interesting to see that Kieran Fallon has been secured for the ride, though the horse finished well down the field in last year’s race.
John Quinn came within half a length of victory two years back. His stable star Countrywide Flame, sadly no longer with us, just failed in a thrilling finish. This time the Malton trainer is double-handed with Moidore and Swnymor both well fancied. The latter was last seen finishing strongly behind Quick Jack at Galway. He’s far better off at the weights and twice the price of the race favourite. Moidore ran respectably in the race last year and looks to be on a fair handicap mark.
Philip Hobbs has another crack at the race with Big Easy. Down the field in 2013, he ran a belter in the Cesarewitch Trial Stakes at the course last month. Tom Queally retains the ride, and further rain would not hinder his chances.
Other trainers known for their exploits over obstacles with entrants here include Willie Mullins, Demot Weld, Ian Williams and Lucy Wadham. Frankie Dettori gets the ‘leg-up’ on Wadham’s Noble Silk. He ran well in the Northumberland Plate earlier this summer when suffering interference late on.
It would be folly to solely focus on horses trained by the National Hunt fraternity as potential winners of this historic race. After all, they have failed to lift the prize in the last five renewals. Yet there can be little doubt that the modern day Cesarewitch is greatly enhanced by the clash of codes at the celestial home of flat racing.