Racing pundit Tony McCormick from www.irishbigracetrends.com and new racing radio station racingfm.com looks forward to Saturday’s big race, The Cesarewitch.
Saturday sees the running of the 173rd Cesarewitch Handicap at Newmarket. Like its counterpart in the Autumn Double, the Cambridgeshire, the race was established in 1839 and has been run every year since with the exception of two years during the Second World War.
The Cesarewitch was named after Tseravich Alexander, who later became Tsar Alexander II. He had donated £300 the Jockey Club, the equivalent of somewhere around £250,000 today.
In the early days, the Cesarewitch was the first of the two races to be run, but at some point the schedule was reversed.
With almost 200 years of history behind the Cesarewitch it is no surprise that the race has seen its fair share of horse racing legends. Lester Piggott rode several winners, including John Cherry in 1976 and Popsi’s Joy in 1980. However, the most successful Cesarewitch jockey of all time is Doug Smith, who rode six winners at the event between 1939 and 1966, including French Design and Persian Lancer.
For this year’s renewal, Tony Martin’s stayer, Quick Jack leapt towards the head of the betting for the second leg of the autumn double following a fine victory at the Galway Festival. Martin won the Cesarewitch with Leg Spinner in 2007.
The five-year-old gelding would be in opposition against a typically powerful field; with Big Easy firmly on track for the Newmarket contest. The seven-year-old represents the same combination of trainer Philip Hobbs and owner Terry Warner that saw Detroit City lift the second leg of the famed autumn double in 2006.
A son of Ransom O’ War, the gelding had his first run since May when finishing second in the trial race for the historic handicap over the same course and distance last month.
In addition to Quick Jack, Irish hopes could be further bolstered by the presence of the Dermot Weld-trained Hidden Universe, El Salvador from the Aidan O’Brien stables and Willie Mullins’ duo of Digeanta and Clondaw Warrior - though the latter is a long way off from making the 34-runner line-up.
Nicky Henderson landed the Cesarewitch with Caracciola in 2008 and this year he could be represented by Earth Amber. Fellow jumps trainer Jonjo O’Neill is responsible for the former John Oxx inmate Saddler’s Rock, who would have to shoulder top weight on his first start for the Jackdaws Castle handler.
Five of the last six winners had an SP of 16/1, 25/1, 50/1, with the last two winners both coming home at 66/1, so don’t rule out the outsiders too quickly.
Seven of the last eight winners were officially rated between 87 and 98 and had their last run over 2m+, while six of the last eight winners finished in the first four last time out.
Quick Jack and Big Easy are sure to go well, while Godolphin’s Statutory can grab a place at a big price, along with Mark Johnston’s declared runners deserving a second look.
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