Of course the big betting race of the weekend is the Cesarewitch at Newmarket (15:35) and you can read into the trends as much as you like, but the draw is of paramount importance (despite three of the last four winners came from boxes in the mid 20’s). It is acknowledged that being lower than 15 is an advantage unless you are a natural front runner with a high cruising speed and can tack across at the start and negate that negative.
An even stronger trend is that a racing weight of 9st or less is a huge plus, with 17 of the last 25 winners falling into that category. As always it’s a wide open race, but I have two relative outsiders that could outrun their odds and both fit the above two criteria.
BLUE LAUREATE has yet to find his form this season, but Ian Williams has been working back to this race and a lovely sit in stall 10 is a bonus. The five-year-old has been a victim of his own consistency in the past 18 months, rarely running a bad race and in that time winning off a mark of 83 – but being placed off as high as 91 (runs off 90 here).
The key to him is getting him settled as a presser and into a rhythm. That is exactly what happened when he came home strongly behind Reshoun in the valuable Marsh Cup at Newbury in June.
He also finished third in last year’s Cesarewitch Trial over the course and distance, and the only negative is that he has yet to show that big fields suit his style of racing. Although, there is no reason to believe that his chance will be compromised by that.
In a tremendous year for Middleham Park Racing, a win in this premier staying handicap would surely be the cream on the cake for them and in the strong staying four-year-old GOLD ARCH they have a big player at a huge price.
On each of his five starts this term this lightly raced stayer has shown that a true lung bursting test promises to suit him. A winner on his seasonal debut over a mile-and-a-half at Wolverhampton, he has run three solid races over two miles since then – both on the Tapeta at the Midlands’ track and on the turf. On each of those outings being strong at the finish and running right through the line.
I was particularly impressed by his second to Boss Power at Wolverhampton when he just got nudged for room at a vital stage, but off a fair pace ran on very strongly down to the wire under Shane Kelly.
The booking of light weight and veteran of the weighing room, Jimmy Quinn, is a huge plus and the cream on the cake for this son of Archipenko is a lovely box in stall 11. If he can hold his place coming out of the stalls and sit in the first 10, then I would anticipate a massive run as he looks a potential improver for his first shot at two-and-a-quarter miles.
The classic generation have won three of the last six runnings of the Darley Stakes and this still massively unexposed Roger Teal runner may be able to make it seven. I was at Newmarket last year when KENZAI WARRIOR ploughed through the mud to win the Group 3 Horris Hill Stakes on heavy ground, on only his second start.
Although that race by and large hasn’t exactly set the racing world alight, I was convinced that this big, scopey colt would be one to follow in similar conditions despite his trainer being convinced he wants better ground. He went off an unconsidered 40/1 punt for the 2,000 Guineas, but threw away his chance by jolting to one side coming out of the stalls and from that point onwards was always fighting a losing battle.
To his credit the son of Karakonite boxed on well under the minimum of pressure to finish ninth. His only subsequent run in the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot takes more explaining as he had the perfect hot pace to chase from the rear of the field. However, Jason Watson reported that he was simply never travelling and following a move two furlongs out he was unable to find any more.
The ground may have been too quick that day and the return to this surface over this intermediate trip could be the making of him. Of those at the head of the market, the one-time Derby hope Highest Ground has reportedly been working nicely at Newmarket and the son of Frankel is preferred to Earl of Sefton winner (over course and distance) Zabeel Prince.
The hardest horses to assess are the ones that only just do enough to win their races and yet are lightly enough raced to be presumed that they are still on the upgrade and this son of Wootton Bassett fits the bill. Winner of four of his five races, beaten on his career debut at Newmarket, ILARAAB has yet to resister a winning margin in excess of three-quarters of a length.
In fact when he hits the front he almost ‘waits’ for his rivals to give him a bit of company, which looked the scenario last time out when he led at the furlong pole in a Class 2 handicap at Newbury. Try as hard as he could, Martin Dwyer simply couldn’t get him to stretch clear, but he never looked in danger of defeat and the jockey reported afterwards that the drying ground did his partner no favours that day.
The obvious key therefore, is to utilise his smart turn of foot and produce him as late as possible inside the distance. There will be no problems on the ground front at the Knavesmire and if we have a graded performer on our hands, then he really should be able to stretch his winning sequence off a mark of 95 – only 5lbs higher than at the Berkshire track.
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