Most of the big flat racing festivals may be all over and done with for another year by the time the closing weeks of September roll around, but not all of them, as we still have Newmarket’s excellent Cambridgeshire meeting to look forward to.
Held over three days and headlined by one of the biggest and most famous handicap contests of the year, the track known as the headquarters of British flat racing lays on a real treat for racing fans; particularly those amongst us who like nothing better than attempting to unravel a big field handicap or two. Let’s take a closer look at what each of the three days has in store.
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Cambridgeshire Meeting – Main Races
Cambridgeshire Meeting – DAY ONE INFO
The meeting opens with a bumper eight race card, featuring no fewer than five competitive handicap contests. There’s plenty of variety to be found amongst these though, with events for the fillies and juveniles, and at trips ranging from 7f to 1m4f.
It is the youngsters who take to the stage for the main event of the day in the Tattersalls Stakes. Run over 7f of the Rowley Mile course, a field of highly promising juveniles battle it out for this Group 3 prize. A number of those in the line-up will likely have classic aspirations headed into their three year old campaign, so this can be a race well worth keeping an eye on. Tip Two Win finished runner up here last year, before going on to fill the same spot in this season’s 2000 Guineas at rewarding odds of 50/1. High class performers Where Or When and Grand Lodge are amongst those to feature on the roll of honour.
Elsewhere on the card the stayers get their chance in the spotlight in the Listed Rose Bowl Stakes. Held over 2m, this can take some getting, particularly should the ground be riding on the soft side, as is often the case at this time of year. 2000 Guineas hero Rodrigo De Triano showed his class and versatility when taking this in 1991 and is the standout name on the list of previous winners.
Cambridgeshire Meeting – DAY TWO INFO
We take a big step up in class for the Day Two action, with two Listed races and three Group contests. In addition we also have the Silver Cambridgeshire – a race for those runners who don’t quite make the cut for Saturday’s big one.
The fillies and mares get the Group class action underway in the Princess Royal Nayef Stakes. This 1m4f contest is one of the newer Group races of the week, having only been with us since 2007, but has already been landed by future Champion Fillies and Mares winner, Journey, who took back to back editions in 2015 and 2016.
The first big race of the week for the two year old fillies comes with the Rockfel Stakes. A Group 2 contest held over 7f, expect to see a clutch of the most promising fillies in the game lining up to do battle, with all of the top yards represented. Aidan O’Brien’s So Perfect and Fairyland, and Ralph Beckett’s unbeaten Antonio De Vega catch the eye amongst the current list of entries.
It may not be the biggest betting race of the week at around the one mile trip – that honour falls to the closing day’s Cambridgeshire Handicap – but in terms of the class of performer on display, Day Two’s Joel Stakes tops the billing. Last year’s champ Beat The Bank looks likely to return in an effort to defend his crown, and with two Group 2 wins to his name over this trip already this season, he may well take some stopping. With the likes of Addeybb, Accidental Agent and Without Parole amongst the opposition though, he likely won’t have things all his own way.
Cambridgeshire Meeting – DAY THREE INFO
The Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes which kicks off the action on the concluding Saturday has been won by some really smart sorts over the years including Coral-Eclipse, Juddmonte International and Irish Champion Stakes winner, Roaring Lion, who took the prize last year, and of course Frankel who streaked home by 10 lengths in 2010. Too Darn Hot stands out amongst the current entries, but he is surely Group 1 bound now. His absence could leave the path clear for the likes of Aidan O’Brien’s Galileo colt, Anthony Van Dyck or the unbeaten in three Boitron from the yard of Richard Hannon.
Next up we have one of the very best juvenile fillies contests of the season as the cream of the crop in the division do battle over 6f in the Cheveley Park Stakes. Clear favourite for the race this year is the Michael Bell filly, Pretty Pollyanna. Already a Group 1 winner having claimed the Prix Morny last time out, it will take a good one to lower her colours here. The legendary – and similarly named – Pretty Polly was one of the greatest winners of this in years gone by whilst in more recent times subsequent 1000 Guineas heroine Special Duty landed the prize in 2009.
The juvenile colts get their chance in the spotlight in race three. A Group 1 contest, like our preceding race this is also held over the sprint trip of 6f. Also in common with the Cheveley Park Stakes we currently have a red hot favourite for the race in the shape of the Aidan O’Brien runner, Ten Sovereigns. This son of strong speed influence No Nay Never has scorched the turf in landing his two starts to date and looks the latest potential superstar off the Ballydoyle production line. Martyn Meade’s Advertise, who has already won at this level, may provide the stiffest competition.
Race four on the closing day is the big betting heat of the week and the contest which lends its name to this entire meeting. Along with the Cesarewitch, the historic Cambridgeshire Handicap makes up what has come to be known as the Autumn double. Expect a maximum field of 35 to go to post for this 1m1f contest, which is one of true cavalry charges of the season. Much talk in the preliminaries will as ever centre around the draw and which side of the track is riding quicker – high numbers have been favoured in recent years, but this does tend to vary.
Dolphin Vista caused the biggest shock in over a decade when landing odds of 50/1 last year, in a race which is often ideally set up for an each way punt at rewarding odds. David Barron’s consistent Kynren and John Gosden’s Stylehunter are the ones to prove popular with the punters in the early betting this time around.