After we gave you the heads up on huge gamble Lord North in the Cambridgeshire, we now look to complete the Autumn Double by backing the winner of the £350,000 Cesarewitch Handicap at Newmarket on Saturday.
This 180-year-old marathon two-and-a-quarter mile test features 31 runners and will be run in fairly laborious conditions making it a true exam of the field’s stamina, but we think the we have the horse to do it. Here’s our shortlisted six against the field:
There has been a steady flow of money for the favourite this week and it’s easy to see why. Having run so well when second in the Ascot Stakes in the summer, Buildmeupbuttercup returned to the track in September with another good second at Leopardstown and with Frankie Dettori booked to ride, everything is in place for another big run.
Some of the confidence however from last year’s winning trainer Willie Mullins comes from the fact that her conqueror last time, Kastasa, went on to win a Group race but as a lightly-raced 3-year-old filly she was entitled to improve a lot and so we can’t take that form literally in the context of this horse.
Very much underrated and overpriced, Charlie Fellowes’ 4-year-old has plenty of improvement left in him yet and is better judged on his fine Northumberland Vase win in June on slow enough ground than on his subsequent efforts.
That said, he ran well enough at York last time so back into a tougher stamina test and on slower ground we can see him take another stride forward which gives him a place chance for sure.
Land Of Oz
A fascinating contender having taken the typical Sir Mark Prescott route of entering handicaps off a very lowly mark before unsurprisingly improving consistently over time.
The 3-year-old Australia colt has now won 7 of his last eight races and still has more to give, however his trainer having such a poor record in this race over the years and the stable’s main jockey electing to ride stablemate Timoshenko just temper enthusiasm for him a tad.
Andrew Balding is confident that his 3-year-old, by Dunaden out of a High Chaparral mare, can see out this distance and we agree.
Taking out two below-par runs when pitched too high at stakes level, Ranch Hand is effectively three from three and seems to love the conditions he’ll have at HQ.
In taking care of Trueshan at Haydock last time out over 1m6f he showed himself to be a real improver over staying distances and frankly we can mark that performance up given that the ground was so bad on the day. He can take a leap here big enough to put him significantly ahead of the handicapper and bang in with a shout of landing the £217,000 first prize under the excellent Oisin Murphy.
Another at a very big price who could have been underestimated, Mark Johnston’s contender has had 11 runs already but we can’t forget that he is only three and made his debut as recently as April this year.
We have not therefore seen the best of him and so if he has improved for his recent gelding operation having previously won three smaller races, he could be no forlorn hope.
Emmet Mullins is confident of a big run and there’s no doubt we haven’t got to the bottom of this one on the flat yet, his extremely easy win at Tramore in August showing him to be one who could have a few pounds in hand.
He was thought good enough to contest the Doncaster Cup this year but was unsurprisingly put in his place by Stradivarius and co that day, however back in handicap company he may show us what he’s made of in conditions that seem to be up his street.
Given the topography and underfoot conditions here it’s felt there could be a major effort coming from Carnwennan who is grossly overpriced, while Sir Mark Prescott’s Land Of Oz is another who will appreciate conditions and could land a blow.
It would be no surprise to see Buildmeupbuttercup land the prize but unlike with Lord North in the Cambridgeshire, there are just some lingering doubts as to whether he’s as well-off at the weights as his supporters believe.
RANCH HAND however has plenty going for him and is definitely one who is ahead of the assessor, so assuming race conditions are indeed all to his liking then he has to be the selection.