The Cesarawitch with Sam Preen
A runner by runner guide to the big race this weekend – It’s the Cesarewitch at Newmarket – thanks to Sam Preen.
A race which jump trainers like to enter, it’s no surprise to see Saddler’s Rock being entered on his first start for Jonjo O’Neill. Not been at his best since a comfortable winner of the 2012 Goodwood Cup, he was disappointing when bidding for back to back wins last year, and though he had an eyecatching performance in the Irish Leger, that proved to be a fluke, having disappointing on all starts this year, including when finishing eleventh (promoted to tenth) in the Ascot Gold Cup, “won” by Estimate. Difficult to fancy now his best days are safely behind him.
Became a useful stayer in time, having previously finished third to Pique Sous at Ascot, and plugged on past knackered horses to finish a distant fourth in this year’s Goodwood Cup, and was hardly disgraced at the Doncaster Cup, when finishing a short head sixth, three lengths behind winner Estimate, on ground softer than ideal (first run on good to soft). Better ground an obvious plus, as is the drop back down to handicap level.
Has his moment back in May, landing the Chester cup, from Angel Gabrial, the latter who reversed the form when landing the Northumberland Plate, a 1-2 for the good Dr Koukash, and was a staying on ninth in York’s Ebor, under Paolo Sirigu. Bounced back in the Mallard Stakes in the rain softened ground at Doncaster, keeping on for third, and doing enough to hold of Mick Channon’s Elidor. Fairly versatile when it comes to the ground, and stamina is assured, having picked up the Chester Cup over half a furlong further.
Came into form when upped to this class, chasing home Tiger Cliff at Newmarket last year, before springing a huge surprise earlier in the year, after some disappointing efforts at Ripon and Newmarket, and followed that up with a gallant success at Haydock, to pick up the Old Newton Cup from Pallasator, who went off favorite for the Ebor, and finished fourth, whilst De Rigueur could only manage sixteenth, and wasn’t disgraced at Chester, when third of seven in a Listed event. Not hopelessly out of it, but stablemate Suegioo looks stronger.
Looked useful in his early days last year, but flopped at Longchamp when upped to 15 furlongs, in a Group 2, and could only beat one rival in Doncaster’s November Handicap, when going off a fancied 12/1 chance. Disappointing when last of nine against Cubanita in a Newbury Group 3, but bounced back when a staying on second at Haydock, over 2 miles, and kept on for eighth in the Ebor. Step up in trip sure to suit.
Yet to win since 2012, and ran a fair race on her British debut at Nottingham, in a Listed event, but was very disappointing at Ascot, and in this last year, when only beating one rival home. Finished second twice in two hurdle events, at Southwell and Fakenham, before two more seconds back on the flat, at Nottingham (the same race as last year) and in Ascot’s Sagaro Stakes back in April, and ran way below her best back at Ascot in a handicap in August. Needs sufficient rain to be at her best, but hard to fancy after last year’s poor effort.
Infrequent winner, who’s losing run stretches back to August of 2012, but has ran very well in defeat, including when third to Tiger Cliff last May, and to Tominator in the Northumberland Plate, last June. Unlucky not to win when chasing home Angel Gabrial at Ripon in April, first getting headed, then bumped (no euphemism’s intended). Eventually ran out of steam in the Chester Cup (Suegioo first, Angel Gabrial second) when a fair fourth, but was well beaten under course and distance in the trial. Versatile regarding ground, but hard to ignore his disappointing trial run.
Seeking a hat trick under Cam Hardie is Rhombus, running in the famous Rizeena silks. Had a light campaign compared to last year, having ran only five times to date, but came into his own on his ideal soft ground, picking up wins at Newmarket, and Newbury. The trip is sure to suit, but faces very stiff competition back up in Class 2 company, having being a very poor when sent off fav in last year’s November Handicap.
Usually known for his hurdling exploits these days, but had an eyecatching on his return to the flat at Galway, when a staying on fifth of twenty, six and a quarter lengths behind Quick Jack. Certainly would’ve finished much closer had he not been held up at the rear and given far too much to do, and providing that wasn’t a one off, he can run a huge race, with his stamina assured. Only ever won on ground with “soft” in the going, though.
Comfortable winner at Haydock back in May, before a staying on fourth in the Northumberland Plate, behind Angel Gabrial and Suegioo, losing out only by a short head, and ran credibly down in trip at Goodwood in July. Disappointing in rain softened ground at Chester in August (De Rigueur third). Claims dropping down to Class 2 again, but the longer distance isn’t sure to suit, neither is the threat of rain.
Been a “will he, won’t he” contender for a while, but it seems he’s been given the green light. Quick Jack’s been in fine form on the flat this past year, and was last seen storming to success at Galway, sporting headgear for the first time, having being off since finishing third in the Boylesport Hurdle back in January, at Leopardstown. Should run a huge race, but far too short in what’s sure to be a huge field.
No win in over a year and a half, but has been running creditably since returning from a break, after finishing a fair sixth in the Ascot Stakes. Saw out the two and a half miles at Goodwood reasonably well, back in July, chasing home the outsider of the field, Teak, managing to finish a few lengths ahead of Longshadow. The form of that race hasn’t worked out well, but he followed that up with a fair effort in the Trial, having finished a tired third in ground softer than ideal.
Not been the same force of old, since routing his rivals in a Chester handicap over two years ago, but capped off 2012 with a brave run in defeat, back at Chester, before running out of steam in the November Handicap, to finish three quarters of a length behind Art Scholar. Surprisingly chased home Josses Hill in a maiden hurdle last December, before going onto run creditably on the all-weather throughout the winter, before a great third to Suegioo in the Chester Cup, and more recently, stayed on under pressure for another third, this time in the Old Borough Cup. Boasts a string of three’s when partnered with Oisin Murphy, but often leaves his best work until too late, leaving him with no time to challenge, or running out of stamina when he gets his head in front. A great horse on his day, but surely leaving connections frustrated.
Much better on the all-weather tracks, having notched two successes at Wolverhampton this season, and spring a surprise when forging clear to land a York handicap back in May, over two and a half miles, but failed to follow that up when well beaten in the Ascot Stakes. Drop back in trip likely to suit, but looks up against it after a lay off stretching back to June.
Used to frequent all-weather circuits back in the day, and has a fair record at Wolverhampton, where most of his successes came. Overcame a below par effort in the Ascot Stakes, to spring a minor surprise in York’s Stayer’s Stakes, back in July, but was put in his place in the Trial, run on good to soft ground, last month. Should run his race, but highly unlikely to reverse places with the owner’s more fancied runner, Suegioo.
A former Chester Vase winner (2010) who never quite made it as a hurdler when sent to Paul Nicholls, winning only once, and signing off their relationship with an average third at Taunton in May. Didn’t reappear until finishing down the field at Doncaster in December, this time with Suzy Smith, but came back to life on the flat, when battling all the way to the line (just about) at Lingfield, on the all-weather, before two disappointing efforts back over hurdles, at Newbury and Plumpton. No worse for wear from his fall, when battling his heart out to land a handicap at Goodwood in May, under Luke Morris, but that was on his ideal testing ground. His hurdling days should assure his stamina, but likely to find things tough against these younger stayers.
Very Good Day
Certainly a good day if he wins. Winless since 2012, he wasn’t seen until last year’s Chester Cup, after finishing third in the 2012 running of this race. Sent off a 100/1 chance on his sole start this year, in the Doncaster Cup, and ran like his price suggested, when finishing last of 12, finishing thirty eight lengths behind winner Estimate. Impossible to recommend.
Won well at Bath in May, before going down a head to Ted Spread in a brilliant battle between the pair, at Goodwood. Had a few disappointing efforts, before given far too much to do in the Shergar Cup Stayers, but ran much better at a proper meeting, beaten only two and a quarter lengths at Newmarket, over 13 furlongs. Well beaten in the Park Hill Stakes, in good to soft, her first Group race. Claims dropping down to Class 2’s again, providing she’s not drawn in the car park.
Frustrating mare, who finally got off the mark last November, after finishing way down the field in this last year. Followed that up with two fair efforts back down in Class, at Ascot and Newmarket, and was a fair forth over 20 furlongs at Ascot. Staying on seventh on good to soft in the Doncaster Cup, but needs to vastly improve from last year.
A useful stayer in weaker races, he’s failed to fire at this level, until chasing home Semeen at Yarmouth last month. Yet to run over this trip, but was a keeping on second in a standard handicap over 2 miles, at Ripon last August. That was on good ground, which seems to suit her best, but will need things to fall perfectly for her.
Had a mixed season this year, primarily winning in weaker races, including when springing a minor surprise at Beverley back in August, but tired himself out at Goodwood on his latest start, when pulling far too hard and hanging left, and was steadily left behind at Ascot, before his Beverley run. Not raced beyond two miles, since a staying on sixth in the 2012 Ascot Stakes, but still hard to fancy at this level.
Not often you see a Mullins’ horse on these shores outside of Cheltenham, but Digeanta switched to the flat, after two narrow successes in NH rules, before firing off another two wins on the flat, before a disappointing run at Galway last July. Much better when rallying home to be third to stablemate Pique Sous in a Premier Handicap last year, but posted up two disappointing efforts this year, including behind Quick Jack, before landing a minor event at Killarney. Way below his best under Pat Smullen at Leopardstown on his latest start, though.
In the colours of Rooster Booster and former Cesarewitch hero, Detroit City, who’s life was tragically cut short back in 2007, Phillip Hobbs and Terry Warner team up with the imposing Big Easy. Winless since picking up a handicap hurdle at Cheltenham last April, Big Easy disappointed in this last year, having being lumped with draw 36, but comes here much stronger, having chased home See And Be Seen in the Trial, but probably would’ve got up had he had a clear run. Definite claims on the back of that, with the trainer sounding very positive, but I wouldn’t be rushing to take 12/1 on Big Easy until the draw is out (baring in mind this was typed up before the draw).
Notched his first win in nearly two years, when landing a minor event at Newcastle back in May, and was hardly disgraced on his two runs since. Fifth at THAT Ascot meeting I won’t acknowledge, under Stefanie Hofer (Debdebdeb fourth), he again ran creditably up at Ayr last month, having being dropped back down to a Class 3. Still on a workable mark, and has claims if repeating his Ascot run.
The good Dr Koukash will be sending in his patients before long. Gabrial’s Star won comfortably at Chester back in May, but went onto disappoint under Ryan Moore at York a few days later, and again at the end of the month, at Chester, won by Swnymor. Kept on to take a distant fourth over two miles at Chester, and ran much better at Haydock, when dropped in trip. Very difficult to fancy, though.
Had a busy season last year, but hasn’t being able to repeat that form since finishing a distant second to Tioga Pass. Saw out his next two runs from behind, before eventually tailing off and finishing well beaten. Certainly won’t be making an impact in this.
Rattled off a hat trick early on, on the all weather, but has failed to win since then. Showed a hint of promise at Newbury in June, before finishing a distant third at Newmarket, in a Listed event, and wasn’t beaten far at Goodwood in a Group 3, won by Missunited. Did very well to run better than her price suggested to be a few of these in the Group 2 Park Hill Stakes, but unsure how she will handle the extra distance.
At his best on the all weather, but has a very poor record on turf, twice unseating over hurdles, and finishing last of four at Ffos Las last September. Stays two and a half miles very well, but cannot recommend back on turf.
Been in fine form over both codes as of late, winning four of his last five starts, finishing runner up only once, in a novice chase at Worcester. Surprisingly didn’t run in this race’s Trial, won by See and Be Seen, who Teak has previously beaten. Instead, he was a very easy winner at Plumpton the following day, in a Class 3 Hurdle. Should make a bold bid, but you have to think this could possibly be one run too many, not to mention his penalty.
Sir Frank Morgan
Sor Frank Morgan has had an unbelievably busy season, typical of a Johnston horse. Already had 11 runs before winning at Lingfield in June, and his Catterick victory was his 13th appearance this year alone. The long season is starting to take his toll, and can be safely ignored, and hopefully he gets a long rest.
Sprung an upset on his debut, but showed very little until he was fitted with cheekpieces in this last year, when a staying on second of 33, finishing three lengths from Scatter Dice. Since gone onto disappoint in every race since, most recently at Newcastle, but a return to this course, where he boasts two seconds, may spark him up. Drawn six last year, he emerges from stall three on Saturday. Blinkers are on again, though they’ve had little effect so far.
At his best in weaker races, which was shown when running prominently to win by a neck at Carlisle, in a Class 4 over 14 furlongs, back in August. Needs firm ground to be at his best, but with weather looking grim the next 48 hours, soft ground isn’t ideal, although he already is up against it in this company alone.
Useful stayer on his day. Finished a knackered, distant fifth to Pique Sous at Ascot against a few of these, but was twice disappointing, at York and then Ripon. Ran better with the headgear off in the Trial, finishing six and a half lengths behind See And Be seen to finish a tired fourth. Needs firm ground to be at his best, but doesn’t look like he’ll be threatening anyone, anyway.
Had a reasonable year since beating the ill-fated Sirvino, who returned the favour at Hamilton next time out. Disappointing at Haydock, and twice at Musselburgh, before a much better effort, stepping up in trip at Ayr last month. The threat of soft ground is an ideal for him, but was well beaten behind rival Noble Silk when last in this company.
See And Be Seen
Was knocking at the door for a while, but was disappointing when sent off co-fav at Kempton in August. Bounced back at Bath, under Renato Souza, to chase home Teak, and relished the step up in distant to spring an upset in the Trial, beating home Big Easy by a neck. That was on good to soft, which is sure to suit once more, if the rain falls, but has been lumped with a penalty for that win.
Runs under both codes, but not seen over jumps since falling at Sedgefield back in March. Disappointing on soft at Doncaster, before winning at Newcastle, but posted up two fair efforts at York, on good to firm, in weak races, with a disappointing effort in this company, in between. Only here as a reserve, but unlikely to make an impact if he gets in.
Conclusion: A massive race which is wide open. Only two favorites have won in the past ten years, and I certainly won’t be siding with Quick Jack at a single figure price. Of the ones at the top of the market, Big Easy warrants respect for connections who have previously won this race, as does Swnymor, who caught the eye with a promising effort at Galway, six and a quarter lengths behind Quick Jack.
In the past three years, winners have returned at 25/1, and 66/1 for the past two years, but I’m fairly confident Chester Cup winner SUEGIOO can buck that trend from stall 23, for Marco Botti. He beat rivals Communicator and Gabrial’s King in that race, and ran credibly when runner up in the Northumberland Plate, over two miles. Stayed on to finish ninth in York’s Ebor, and ran a huge race in Doncaster’s Mallard Stakes, under Martin Harley, who has a fine record when partnering Suegioo (224223). Has massive claims on the back of his Town Moor effort, and has his stamina assured.
My other selection, drawn next door to Suegioo in 22, is Brass Ring. Though he’s not won since April, he’s ran some eyecatching races over a variety of trips, and has been running much better as of late with the application of headgear, in which he finished third to Pique Sous in Ascot’s Queen Alexandra Stakes. Dropped down in trip to finish a distant fourth of eight runners, when staying on past beaten horses, and was hardly disgraced when upped to Group 2 level for the Doncaster Cup, in ground softer than ideal. Good ground is looking likely, which is a definite plus, and though most of his runs have been on good to firm, he ran fairly on his debut, on good.
The grey, Noble Silk, has claims dropping back down to handicap company, but the extra two furlongs aren’t quite sure to suit. His Listed run can be ignored, given that it was his first crack in that class, and he could’ve finished a lot closer had he not got hampered at Goodwood, whilst Debdebdeb makes appeal stepping up in trip, and back down to handicaps after a disappointing effort in a Group 2. If outsiders come into play, last year’s runner up Waterclock comes into play, at a track where he has finished runner up on both starts, and emerges from a low draw again. Trial winnerSee And Be Seen just made the cut, but has a 4lb penalty for his win.
Prices correct at time of writing…
Suegioo @ 16/1 E/W (Hills)
Brass Ring @ 16/1 – 20/1 E/W (Hills, Paddy)
Noble Silk @ 25/1- 33/1 E/W (Hills)
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