Cambridgeshire Handicap Preview

By Samantha

The bet365 Cambridgeshire Handicap has a prize fund of almost £100,000 and it has attracted some nice horses. It was established in 1839. It is actually part of what’s called the ‘Autumn Double’ with the Cesarewitch. It has been done three times in the past, all in the 1800s, and the feat isn’t attempted much nowadays.

Some of the top trainers in the country are represented in this and John Gosden has three- Wissahickon, Stylehunter and Tricorn. Based on jockey bookings, Wissahickon seems the preference as he is ridden by Frankie Dettori. He has won four times from his six starts. A slight negative is that all bar one of his wins have come on the All Weather and he is yet to tackle a race like this. He didn’t settle when finishing eighth of nine on his penultimate start but won nicely last time out at Chelmsford. The other two are drawn quite close together in 32 and 34. Tricorn is probably the outsider of the two as he has only been seen once since finishing tenth of thirty at Royal Ascot and he was eighth at his only try at this trip when beaten by Sharja Bridge and Third Time Lucky whereas Stylehunter won last time out over this trip at Goodwood but he was put up 8lbs for that. Examiner was pulled up on that occasion as he bled. He has Sebastian Woods taking off 3lbs from his back and he has been sixth on both runs since being pulled up. It looks as though he will struggle to win off this mark and was beaten by Mythical Madness in December.

David O’Meara has three in the line up also, all ridden by apprentices. Conor McGovern partners Waarif, Gabrielle Malune is set to ride Bravery and Mythical Madness will be ridden by Cameron Noble. Mythical Madness seems the best of the three as he will definitely stay as he won over it at Wolverhampton in 2016. He’s a seven year old now and they don’t have the best record in the race in recent years but he goes off 97 which is the highest mark he’s won off but with Cameron Noble taking 5lbs off, I could see him out-running his odds. There are stamina doubts with Waarif and Bravery. The former has won four of his twelve starts in 2018 including last time out by a length just one week ago. Bravery has dropped considerably in the weights since his last win in the 2017 Lincoln but I don’t think he gets this trip.

A couple of these ran in this last year including David O’Meara’s Bravery (thirteenth) and Sands Charm (second). The latter has been beaten a long way on all starts after that one so it will be a surprise if he can land a blow in this. Third Time Lucky won this in 2015 and looks to win it again, this time under Jack Garrity. The grey son of Clodovil was tenth of seventeen behind Seniority in the Unibet Golden Mile with Mythical Madness ahead of him. He won at York in a handicap on his penultimate start under young Oakley Brown and is 6lbs higher than the mark he won this race at in 2016.

Image result for third time lucky horse
Third Time Lucky (Nearside)


Some of the top owners are also represented in this. Godolphin have Mountain Hunter and Very Talented. Both are trained by Saheed Bin Suroor and, based on the market, Very Talented is the better of the two. He hadn’t been seen since finishing third in the 2016 renewal of this race when he won at Chelmsford nine days ago. That was an encouraging performance and he will have come on from that and be primed for this. His stable mate was successful over in Meydan over the winter and he was fifth on his only start in Britain this season on the 13th September. The colours of some very good horses including Postponed, who never seemed to like it at Newmarket, will be carried by Sharja Bridge and Uae Prince. Andrea Atzeni is set to ride Uae Prince so he seems the preferred runner from the stable. We haven’t seen him since May and that was the only time we’ve seen him on a racetrack in 2018. He is a dual winner and one of those victories has come at this trip. He’s 6lbs higher than his last win but he has run well after a break before. He’ll go close. Sharja Bridge has won just the once in a Nottingham maiden. He hasn’t really shown the form from last year yet so he needs to step up.

King Power Racing have tasted lots of big race success recently and they have Pivoine and Zwayyan in this race. Zwayyan is partnered by a very good young jockey who has already won a big handicap this season. The pairing won at Chelmsford in August and was then just beaten off this mark at Ascot last time out. He isn’t without a shot but has been beaten twice by Via Serendipity this season. Stablemate Pivoine has a big weight as he won at York in impressive style beating Alfarris by two and a half lengths. On his start before that, Alfarris and Afaak, who is of the same ownership as the former, finished ahead of him in a handicap at Glorious Goodwood. Alfarris won that race and is the selection of the owner’s stable jockey Jim Crowley. He has won twice this season and has stamina in abundance. He has a decent draw and is a worthy market leader. Afaak won nicely on his second start this season then ran a blinder in the Royal Hunt Cup, finishing ahead of Circus Couture, What’s The Story, Raising Sand, Seniority, Tricorn and Kynren. Seniority is William Haggas’ other representative and the Dubawi gelding is owned by the Queen. He was favourite for that race but in the end wasn’t beaten far into eighth.

Kynren, Kenya and Danceteria are well fancied in the market. The former has attracted lots of support after being beaten only a neck at York last time out. He will stay as he was a staying on third in the John Smith’s Cup at York finishing behind Thundering Blue who runs for the same connections as Danceteria. The connections have had a brilliant summer with Thundering Blue after he was third in the Judmonte International and then went on to win the Stockholm Cup in Sweden recently. The yard’s representative in this is looking to do better than Blue did last year in this race when he finished seventh. Rated 103, this horse was searching for a five timer but missed the break and then stayed on to be fifth in a competitive Curragh handicap. He’s only three and is open to improvement.
Kenya goes for trainer Aidan O’Brien and this colt was last seen when second to I can Fly in a Group Two and, before that, he won the Irish version of this race by three and a quarter lengths. He is the classy horse in the line up and this is a drop in class for him.

Not a lot of these have actually won over this trip but Circus Couture and Mistiroc have. The first mentioned carries top weight and runs for Jane Chapple-Hyam. He ran for the first time in the UK in May after moving to his current yard. He was very successful over there and was second in a group three last time out, which has been his best performance since coming over here. Mistiroc’s last win came at the 2016 Shergar Cup meeting and he looks ridiculously high in the handicap. Mordin is very consistent and all bar a little blip in the John Smith’s Cup, he is yet to be beaten out of the top two and never beaten more than a length. He will most definitely stay and could be a bit of value at 16s.

The draws can be influential in these big field handicaps. Mostly the winners come from higher draws above 28 or below 7. Raising Sand has the widest draw of all in 35. He has a bit to find from there and there are stamina doubts with him especially off his current mark. Tricorn, who I’ve previously mentioned, goes from 34 and stable mate Stylehunter will jump from stall 32. They sandwich Via Serendipity, who has won twice this season including last time out at the Shergar Cup meeting. He is untried at this trip but if he stays he looks a bit of value. Seniority beat him just a length at Chelmsford in June but is better off in the weights to the royal runner. 2016 winner Third Time Lucky won the 2016 renewal of this and is on the opposite side of them. Next to him is Mark Johnston’s Masham Star who was sixteenth behind Seniority at Goodwood and has a bit to find based on that. Examiner and Misiroc go from 29 and 28 respectively.

Keith Dalgleish trains the horses drawn in one and two. Euro Nightmare has ran in decent company this season and she won a Fillie’s Listed race in May and she is a multiple winner at this trip. 50/1 may be a bit of big price. Her trainer also has What’s The Story in this. This horse will be partnered by Tom Queally and I’m not too convinced he’ll stay. Sabador will start from 3 and, on the last two occasions, he has been knocking on the door in big field handicaps over seven furlongs. He kept on well to win his maiden over a mile and that’s the only hint he’ll stay. Waarif is drawn in 4, Circus Couture is drawn in 5 and Afaak will go from stall 6, who’s chances have all be mentioned previously. Ventura Knight will be one of the outsiders and he comes out of stall 7. His last win came in June off 94 but now he’s rated 103 so he is likely to struggle.

King’s Gift will stay and won on his penultimate start but was behind Third Time Lucky and Pivoine either side of that so has a bit to find with them. Restorer will also stay but was behind Danceteria in August. There are questions about Via Via’s stamina but he is dropping down to a better mark and Abe Lincoln hasn’t been seen for 183 days and his record of runs after a break isn’t brilliant. He is also a bit high in the handicap.

My Verdict

There isn’t really a standout horse in the line up really. Favourites don’t have a very good record in this race but I like the chances of ALFARRIS. He has lots of stamina which is something he’ll most definitely need and a decent draw. I really do think that Mythical Madness is over priced at about 66/1. He’s beaten a lot of these before and likes the trip. Via Serendipity is a bit of an unknown as he is yet to tackle this kind of trip. He has been running so well lately and has the beating of Zwayyan on two separate occasions. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him in the winner’s enclosure. Danceteria is a nice horse and will have improved from the run last time out. Mordin completes my shortlist as he goes under the ‘could be anything banner’ in my books. He is so consistent but this will be a challenge for him.

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