Saturday’s Cesarewitch could yield yet another big-price winner according to our in-form tipster
Punters have been left kicking their sounds after recent renewals of the Cesarewitch Handicap at Newmarket with the last two winners priced at 66/1, and before that we had a 25/1 shot oblige.
The last winning favourite was Darley Sun (9/2f) in 2009 and he was only the second jolly to go in since 1992. For that reason I’m going to swerve the current favourite Quick Jack, a general 6/1 shot, even though he has sound credentials. Trained by Ireland’s Tony Martin, who is no stranger to big handicap success in this country and sent out 2007 winner Leg Spinner, he is already a winner here, albeit on the shorter July course, and absolutely hosed up at Galway last time. But 6/1 in a 34-runner handicap – are the bookies having a laugh or what?!
And it’s not as if we are short of viable alternatives. Indeed, I’ve compiled a shortlist of around eight horses – perhaps that should be a longlist? – who all look to have reasonable claims. The problem at this stage is working out the ground conditions on the day as some would be better with cut, while others would prefer top of the ground. My best guess on that score – judging by the latest weather forecast – is that ‘good’ ground will prevail, but that’s hardly an exact science.
Both Swnymor and Big Easy have clearly been laid out for this race and have seen plenty of money in recent days, but both would appreciate a drop of rain. Ray Ward, on the other hand, likes it good or faster and would probably be the pick if he were to get his conditions (?). Teak is another who likes to hear his hooves rattle and this in-form horse would be a massive danger to all if it stays dry and the word ‘firm’ appears in the going descrition – unlikely.
However, it’s time to get off the fence and I’ve found one that would be perfectly happy on good ground but won’t mind if conditions deteriorate. The horse in question is NEARLY CAUGHT, who will line up as one of the freshest and least exposed runners in the field having had just three starts this season and nine overall. That’s a big plus at this time of year.
His form matches up too as he was a highly progressive three-year-old last term, when winning half his six starts, and was considered good enough to run in Group 2 company at the Arc meeting. His best effort this season was second place in a 2m handicap at Haydock back in May, and he would have needed his run in the Ebor last time, when making eye-catching late progress into eighth (of 19). Both those runs suggest he will have no problem staying the 2m2f of Saturday’s race.
Strangely for a race of this nature, the draw does play a part as those horses drawn high travel further due to the track’s unique configuration. A high draw can be overcome but, more often than not, the winner is drawn low and it’s no coincidence that six of the last 10 were berthed no higher than 12. Nearly Caught will exit from stall 20 which is as wide as I would like, but he’s fared far better than some of his more fancied rivals, with Swnymor, for example, in box 34. For the record, Quick Jack is in stall 12.
The other positives for the selection are the booking of Ryan Moore to ride (enough said) and the form of his trainer Hughie Morrison, who has sent out a couple of winners this month along with three seconds. Basically all his fancied horses have performed well and run up to market expectations. At 16/1 with the race sponsors Betfred, who are offering five places, I’m hopeful Nearly Caught can give the Newmarket handler a day to remember in what is the second richest handicap in Europe.
Nearly Caught each-way @ 16/1 Betfred (1/4 odds, 18.104.22.168.5)