Grumeti (far right) wins last year’s Cesarewitch at 50-1
PICTURE: Martin Lynch (racingpost.com/photos)
By Keith Melrose 3:26PM 7 OCT 2016
LOOK at the recent history and it would be arguable that finding the winner of the Betfred Cesarewitch is tougher than even the Grand National. Twice in the last decade, a 66-1 shot has gone home with the prize and twice more the winner has returned at 50s.
From that, it could be concluded that looking for a reliable methodology to source the winner is a bit of a fool’s errand. Maybe it is. But it could be that orthodox approaches lose a little of their grip applied to a unique contest like the Cesarewitch. So what spin should you put on your approach to Saturday’s big handicap?
Treat it like a jumps race
When the Guineas is run on the same course in seven months’ time, you will probably hear it referred to by some shrewdie as the last two-year-old race. It could be worth using your imagination similarly to picture the Cesarewitch as the first big handicap hurdle of the winter. While future Group horses pepper the roll of honour of other big handicaps, useful jumpers with lower Flat marks do inordinately well here.
It isn’t hard to see why: 2m2f over a galloping track on typical autumn ground (which, admittedly, may not apply so strongly this year) bears closer resemblance to a hurdle-less Greatwood than the Chester Cup or Northumberland Plate.
Take note of the draw
There was much gnashing of teeth as favourite St Michel narrowly made the cut, only to be drawn in stall 32. Those drawn wide often underperform, even in a race which offers such a long time to right a wide starting position.
It could be due to importance of cover in such a long race, but in truth it isn’t worth getting too bogged down. With St Michel, Starchitect and other contenders drawn wide, William Hill still make it 11-10 for the winner to come from stall 25 or higher this year.
Form concerns trump the draw, which just makes getting a good position more difficult and is a headache for the jockey more than punters. One day, some enterprising rider will do in the Cesarewitch what Dettori did in last year’s Arc and we will wonder what all the fuss was about.
Don’t fret about class
As has been mentioned above, this is not as important in the Cesarewitch as in other top Flat handicaps. The headline reason is pretty easy to illustrate: Graasten, bottom weight in Saturday’s race, would have been fully a stone off getting into the Ebor.
Stamina and the ability to travel are more important factors than raw class, perhaps even more important than handicap marks in this case. Plenty of exposed horses have won the Cesarewitch.
Big Easy (yellow) is the right sort of horse to look for in the Cesarewitch
PICTURE: Getty Images
Look for rollers
There is no key trial for the Cesarewitch, unless you count the race itself. Caracciola had been second in it at ten before winning at 11 and Aaim To Prosper became a dual winner in 2012.
The Cesarewitch Trial is a bit of a phony war: Big Easy was caught out in that smaller-field affair two years ago but from the same mark a few weeks later he won the big one, proving better suited to the large-field scenario that allowed a resolute galloper like him to fully unfurl his sail.
In many ways, Big Easy is the ideal example of the sort that you should be looking for in the Cesarewitch. A good hurdler unexposed on the Flat who might be caught out on the sharper tracks but can really get rolling down the Rowley Mile. Find one like him this year and you are probably giving yourself a better-than-average chance of cracking one of racing’s toughest puzzles.