It takes a special type of horse to win a Cesarewitch and a glance down the list of recent winners reveals that it is a quality punters often find impossible to identify before it is too late.
The last two winners were both ignored at 66-1 and they have by no means been the only shockers this past decade. The Cesarewitch is invariably strongly-run and always contested by a huge field at Newmarket, while the two-and-quarter-mile test is a few steps too far for all but the doughtiest of stayers or just a bit too rough-and-tumble for the less than totally resolute.
So caution is needed before joining in the plunge on the Irish raider Quick Jack, now a clear favourite at a pretty stingy 6-1.
He is the type of admirable dual-purpose horse that has done well in the past and has a decent enough chance on form as the winner of a two-mile handicap at the Galway Festival last time out in July. But the gamble probably has more to do with punters’ reverence for his trainer, Tony Martin, who has plenty of previous when it comes to winning big handicaps, including this one with Leg Spinner seven years ago. The booking of the champion jockey Richard Hughes will be another factor in Quick Jack’s popularity.
John Quinn, who went close to winning this in 2012 with the Triumph Hurdle winner Countrywide Flame, was hopeful that Swnymor, a fast-finishing fifth behind Quick Jack at Galway, would be able to turn the tables on much better terms, but a wide draw worries him.
The Malton trainer is, though, very sweet on his other runner, Moidore (3.50 Newmarket), 4lb lower than when running respectably in the race last year and now ridden for the first time by Joe Doyle, one of the apprentice finds of the season.
“He has a good chance as it stands and he won’t mind if the rain comes,” said Quinn, referring to the forecast showers, which, if significant, will put an even bigger premium on stamina.
If the rain fails to amount to anything, the fast-ground specialists Teak and Ray Ward, clear of the rest when first and second in the Goodwood Stakes in July, will be serious players, although both have high draws to overcome.
Teak, tough by name and nature and in the form of his life at the age of seven, has since been paying his way over hurdles and fences, as well as on the Flat, and may still be a step ahead of the handicapper. Jockey Chris Hayes, making a rare trip over from Ireland, is an eye-catching booking. Five of the last 15 Cesarewitch winners have been seven or older, including the 11-year-old Caracciola, a 50-1 turn-up in 2008.
Stetchworth (3.10 Newmarket), considered one of Mark Johnston’s better two-year-olds last year but held back by a training problem, has been making up for lost time in recent weeks with two wins on the northern circuit and could be the best handicapped of a host of progressive three-year-olds in the Betfred TV Stakes.
Mick Easterby, who saddled Boismoss to win the Cesarewitch back in 1967, is now 83, but the prospect of a big prize still brings a twinkle to his eye, especially when associated with a big gamble. Aetna (3.30 York), who beat subsequent Wokingham winner Baccarat at the course in May and is back in business on her preferred easy ground following a summer break, looks to have everything going for her.Reuse content