Top billing at Newmarket today is the Betfred Cesarewitch Handicap at 3.40, when 34 horses will start in one county and finish in another, in an attempt to trouser the £155,625 first prize on offer.
It’s 9-1 the field at present, an indication of the difficulty of any meaningful analysis and if you think that’s getting excuses in early, you may be right.
Horses drawn 18 or lower have won this race every year this century – except last year, when the incomparable SDS got Sweet Selection home from trap 23 and we hope he might repeat the trick, this time from No. 24.
Withhold, a 4-y-o trained by Roger Varian was bought out of Charlie Hills’ yard nearly a year ago for £170,000, an amazing price for a gelding but pocket money if you own Brighton Football Club and this race has been the target ever since.
All has gone to plan thus far, with a solid third at Newbury over 12 furlongs at the end of September as the warm up and the ground drying out very nicely thank you. Off a mark of 87, we start with an each way bet at 10-1.
Two others at bigger process also catch the eye, not least Laws Of Spin, trained by Willie Mullins. This Lawman gelding won the Irish equivalent of this race last year and, although slow to come to hand this season, produced one of its best efforts in beating 19 rivals at the beginning of September in a Premier handicap at Leopardstown. Just 4lbs higher this afternoon, drawn 15 and with Andrea Atzeni riding, this is well worth a bet each way at 22-1.
We complete our set with a small each way investment on the admirably consistent Aurora Gray at 50-1. This 4-y-o filly has competed in Class 2 handicaps twice, run twice over this trip and has finished second each time. Hughie Morrison’s charge will be staying on when many others have cried enough and, with the much-improved Charlie Bennett on her back, merits serious consideration.
As has become the norm, place terms n this race vary between bookmakers, so use William Hill or Skybet, who are both paying 8 places.
The Group 1 Darley Dewhurst Stakes at 3.00 appears to be at the mercy of Expert Eye who is trading at 1-2 and we are not of a mind to oppose.
The preceding race at 2.25, the Masar Godolphin Autumn Stakes is a different matter and the Solario Stakes at the beginning of September may hold the key.
Won by the eponymous Masar, the unlucky horse of the race was John Gosden’s Purser, who had to sit and suffer for more than a furlong before finding daylight and eventually finishing fourth. Not pushed when all chance had gone, Purser has since taken a Lingfield maiden without coming off the bridle and gets the chance today to show what he can do. He should be backed at 100-30.
Finishing strongly into 3rd in the Solario was the Hugo Palmer trained Arbalet who steps up to a mile for the first time today. Although most pundits think Purser will turn around the form, we are not so sure, so the recommendation is a win bet on Purser at 100-30 and an each way bet on Arbalet at 11-1.
Now for the jumps.
The season officially starts today at Chepstow and two highly competitive handicap hurdles are the highlights.
In the Paul Ferguson’s Jumpers To Follow Hurdle at 3.35 we give a big shout to Nicky Henderson’s runner Percy Street, available e/w at 13-2. This 95 rated Flat racer finished 6th in the Fred Winter during its novice season, when still an entire. Being now, as the Spanish would say, ‘sin cojones’ and with a recent outing on the level under its belt, all is in place for a big run.
Most valuable race of the day is at 4.10, when the Totepool Silver Trophy takes place and, with 18 runners due to line up, we’ll go two against the field with Bags Groove at 8-1 and Wishing And Hoping at 16-1, both e/w.
Withhold 3.40 Newmarket e/w @ 10-1
Laws Of Spin 3.40 Newmarket e/w @ 22-1
Aurora Gray 3.40 newmarket e/w @ 50-1
Purser 2.25 Newmarket win @ 100-30
Arbalet 2.25 newmarket e/w @ 11-1
Percy Street 3.35 Chepstow e/w @ 13-2
Bags Groove 4.10 Chepstow e/w @ 8-1
Wishing And Hoping 4.10 Chepstow e/w @ 16-1