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.
The main races at the three day meeting include:
- Rockfel Stakes – Group 2, 7f
- Royal Lodge Stakes – Group 2, 1m
- Cheveley Stakes – Group 1, 6f
- Middle Park Stakes – Group 1, 6f
- Cambridgeshire Handicap – Heritage Handicap, 1m1f
Let’s take a closer look at what each of the three days has in store.
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.
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.
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.
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, and of course Frankel who streaked home by 10 lengths in 2010.
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. The legendary 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.
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 in 2017, during a race which is often ideally set up for an each way punt at rewarding odds.