Champion’s day at Newmarket boasts six group races, but it is a handicap, the totesport Cesarewitch, that is the big betting races. Thirty-six runners spread across the vast sward of Newmarket will test the mettle of even the most acute punter.
Afrad is certainly a worthy favourite. He ticks in all the right boxes. Jumping yards have won seven of the last ten renewals, all bar one horse has been drawn higher than fifteen and only one horse has carried more than nine stone. Trainer Nicky Henderson won the race with Landing Light in 2003 and the fact that Kieran Fallon has been allowed to abandon an Aidan O’Brien runner despite being Ballydoyle’s retained jockey is a big tip.
If you backed Afrad at 25/1 when the betting opened, congratulations. But wading in at 5/1 is far less tempting. Ten Carat is available at five times those odds and gets three pounds from Afrad for a one-and-a-half length beating in the Goodwood Stakes. Ten Carat is also well-drawn and Richard Hughes is every bit as good a jockey as Fallon.
For the purists the Emirates Airline Champion Stakes has gathered fifteen high-class middle-distance horses. Oratorio heads the betting having won both the Coral Eclipse and Irish Champion Stakes over ten furlongs. However, French raider Pride merits plenty of respect. She was only seventh in the Arc, but would have been closer if not checked at a crucial stage.
The Arc winner Hurricane Run is the best horse in Europe so that form is none too shabby. Pride, a daughter of Peintre Celebre, will relish the soft ground. She has won all her group races with some cut in the ground. Pride also has plenty of tactical speed and won the Prix Foy in an eye-catching time.
3:10 Newmarket: Pride (win)
3:45 Newmarket: Ten Carat (each-way)