Cambridgeshire Handicap Tips: Play two against the field

Cambridgeshire Handicap Tips: Preview of Saturday’s ultra-competitive Cambridgeshire Handicap at Newmarket
Cambridgeshire Handicap Tips: Preview of Saturday’s ultra-competitive Cambridgeshire Handicap at Newmarket

Nick Seddon previews Saturday’s ultra-competitive Cambridgeshire Handicap at Newmarket, and recommends two bets against the field…

Finding the winner of a 30-runner handicap is no mean feat in any circumstance, though the Cambridgeshire has proven to be something of a tinker in recent years, with winners returning at both 40/1 and 50/1 in the past decade. 

However, this race regularly takes a smart performer to win it, and each of the last two winners - Lord North and Wissahickon - landed gambles for the John Gosden team before going on to bigger and better things the following season. 

Both of those winners were ‘Group horses’ lurking in handicaps, and Roger Charlton will be hoping for a similar rate of improvement from Tempus, who is the favourite at the time of writing. This lightly-raced four-year-old has a lovely pedigree as a son of Kingman and a half-brother to the very smart Time Test, and he’s returned an improved model this year, building on a winning reappearance when sealing a smooth success at Ascot last time. He appeals as one who’s firmly on the up, and will likely be very popular under a 4 lb rise. 

Another four-year-old who arrives here on the up is Sinjaari, who returned from being gelded over the winter by producing a career best performance to win the John Smith’s Cup at York in July. He showed an excellent turn of foot to fly home in the closing stages that day, though he will require another career best effort to follow up here having been hit with an 8 lb rise for that success.

There are a plethora of smart performers in this field, and each of Certain Lad, Sir Busker, Montatham and Bell Rock have plied their trade at higher levels than this. All four have been holding their form well this season, with the first-named winning the Group 3 Strensall Stakes at York last month, though each of the quartet have a stiff task considering that they take their chance off three-figure marks, figures which have only been carried to victory on three occasions since 2010.  

However, one who catches the eye as an upwardly-mobile type to follow is Ilaraab, who arrives here on the back of four straight victories. It’s been a rapid ascent for the three-year-old, having only made his debut here in June, but he’s quickly clicked into place, and defeated a smart field when bursting to the front in a competitive handicap at Newbury last week. He still looks to be on a good mark raised just 4 lb, and bearing in mind that he’s available at a double-figure price at the time of writing, he looks worth siding with each-way to continue his improvement and hit the frame at the very least under Cieren Fallon. 

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An important factor in such a big-field handicap is the draw, and it’s worth noting that each of the last five winners have come from a high draw - by which they were in stall 20 or higher. The aforementioned Tempus (23) and Bell Rock (24) both fit into that category, as do Al Rufaa (22), Lucander (27), Balgair (26) and Dubai Mirage (29). The last-named has been progressing well this season, winning a competitive event at Haydock last month, and although he was held off a revised mark at Sandown last time, he’s interesting under a 5 lb claimer, while Balgair won the amateur version of this race last year, but faces a steep task if he’s to complete a double. 

At a bigger price, it may also be worth chancing Data Protection each-way. He's been in good heart this season, winning handicaps at both Sandown and July Course under this rider, and while he was down the field off a revised mark at Doncaster last time, there were mitigating circumstances bearing in mind he was handed a particularly aggressive ride. This mark may be within his remit, though, and prominent tactics could serve him well from a good-looking draw in stall 21. The star of the William Muir yard is undoubtedly Pyledriver, but in this wide-open affair, there's worse bets than siding with Data Protection to run into a place at around the 33/1 mark. 

Finally, three more to consider are Fifth Position, King Carney and Derevo. The last-named was runner-up in the aforementioned race at Doncaster that Data Protection went off too quick in, and appeals as one who's on a good mark here having only just failed to get up that day. He can take his chance off the same terms here and is one to consider with Ryan Moore booked, while King Carney produced his best effort for a while when third behind Tempus at Newbury in August, but needs more to figure here. Lastly, Fifth Position has been shaping well in some tough tasks of late, but his mark looks high enough, and instead it is Ilaraab and Data Protection who make the most appeal at the prices. 


Cambridgeshire Handicap, Newmarket, Saturday 26th September - back Ilaraab each-way at 12/1

Cambridgeshire Handicap, Newmarket, Saturday 26th September - back Data Protection each-way at 33/1

Cambridgeshire Handicap
Ilaraab silk

Ilaraab (EW)

Cambridgeshire Handicap
Data Protection silk

Data Protection (EW)

Middle Park Stakes Odds
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