Feature Races

Cesarewitch Handicap Preview: Get Studying

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Time To Study was a game winner of last month's Old Borough Cup at Haydock.
Time To Study was a game winner of last month's Old Borough Cup at Haydock.

Having drawn the short straw in the office, Nick Seddon takes a look at Saturday’s tricky-looking Cesarewitch Handicap at Newmarket, and picks out two bets in the race…

After landing something of a touch with the John Gosden-trained, Frankie Dettori-ridden Lord North in the Cambridgeshire Handicap a fortnight or so ago, who returned a winning 9/2 favourite, punters will be hoping that the second part of the traditional ‘autumn double’, Saturday’s Cesarewitch Handicap, proves just as fruitful.

History is far from on their side, however, and the race has been notorious for causing a surprise or two of late - hardly surprising for a 30-plus-runner handicap - and three winners have returned at starting prices of 50/1 or higher this decade, including back-to-back 66/1 winners in 2012 and 2013. That being said, it’s worth noting that each of the last three winners have returned at 10/1 or shorter - as punters stage a fightback. 

Run over a distance of two miles and two furlongs, the Cesarewitch requires an abundance of stamina, and is regularly targeted by National Hunt yards. Willie Mullins won this last year with the lightly-raced Low Sun, and he returns for more this year with a five-year-old mare who has a strikingly similar profile, Buildmeupbuttercup

Low Sun was also a five-year-old when winning this last year, and like him, Buildmeupbuttercup arrives here having been successful at the Galway Festival over the summer - though her victory didn’t come over timber in the Galway Hurdle, instead opening her account on the level by winning a maiden over a mile and a half in convincing fashion.

Campaigned in some high-level novice hurdle events last winter, Buildmeupbuttercup has shown plenty of ability on the Flat, too, finishing second in the Ascot Stakes at the Royal meeting in June, and occupying the same position when beaten just a neck in a valuable staying handicap at Leopardstown last month. She is unpenalised for that here, and another bold bid is expected for a yard who, along with winning this last year, have also had runners finish third (2017), fourth (2015) and fifth (2014) in recent years.   

Two more from the Mullins yard who look set to run here are Great White Shark and Stratum. The latter was defeated at odds of 4/1-on on his most recent start over hurdles at Listowel last month, but it’s worth noting that he was only beaten by one receiving an uncontested lead in a small-field affair, and had been in winning form on the Flat at Killarney prior to that. He was a warm order in the betting for this race last year, and although he ultimately finished down the field that day, he shaped as though he was potentially amiss, and could be worth another look off 1 lb lower this time around. Like Stratum, Great White Shark was a disappointment over hurdles last time out, though she won a valuable staying handicap on her last outing on the Flat at Galway in July, and should be on the premises here for all that she has to run off a 9 lb higher mark.

Only one three-year-old has won this race this century, though two from the classic generation are joint-second favourites at the time of writing, Ranch Hand and Land Of Oz. The latter sneaks in at the bottom of the weights, and the son of Australia has done nothing but improve so far this summer, winning six of his last seven starts and improving 33 lb in the process. The latest of those wins came over course and distance last month in the trial race for this, and with the possibility of more to come from him yet, he looks one to be interested in off 4 lb higher here. Ranch Hand hasn’t quite been as busy so far, but he took a notable step forward when winning over one mile and six furlongs in good style at Haydock last month. The extra half a mile here will ask something more of him, but he can’t be discounted off a 4 lb higher mark. 

Two more from the classic generation who are worthy of a mention are Rochester House and Themaxwecan. Rochester House represents the same owners as Land of Oz, but is in the care of Mark Johnston. He too has been busy so far this season, though he was down the field at York last time and his mark is high enough at present. Meanwhile, Themaxwecan returned to winning ways over two miles at Goodwood last time, and could have more to offer over the extra two furlongs here. Also due to step up in trip is the four-year-old Nuits St Georges, who is in solid form at the moment, though like Rochester House his current mark is a steep one. 

Aidan O’Brien has yet to win this race, and relies solely on Cypress Creek. Interestingly, this will be the four-year-old’s first foray into handicap company, having faced a string of tough assignments over the last couple of seasons. He’s generally been holding his form well, finishing second in a Group 3 at the Curragh last time, though unsurprisingly his opening mark looks a tough one. More experienced in this sphere are Dubawi Fifty, Who Dares Wins and Time To Study. The first-named was fourth in this race in 2017, though arrives here with something to prove off 9 lb higher this time around, having struggled the last twice. Meanwhile, Who Dares Wins was victorious in the Northumberland Plate at Newcastle in June, and he’s been running well since, finishing fourth in a Group 1 contest at Longchamp earlier this month. He carries top weight here, but he’s a consistent type and it would be no surprise to see him on the premises. 

A more attractive each-way proposition, though, is the Ian Williams-trained Time To Study. He took a handful of starts to find his feet since joining the yard at the turn of the year, but he’s in fine form at the moment, and completed a double when winning the valuable Old Borough Cup at Haydock last month. He’s 4 lb higher here, but retains the services of the very promising young claimer Cieren Fallon and could still be well-treated on the pick of his form during his time with Mark Johnston, which included finishing second in the Group 3 Sagaro Stakes at Ascot in May 2018. 

Four more to consider are Timoshenko, Sneaky Getaway, Eddystone Rock and Coeur de Lion. The first-named won all five of his starts in 2018, and made a winning reappearance over two and a half miles at Glorious Goodwood in July, when winning a valuable handicap after just shy of a year off the track. He arrives here on a career-high mark, but may not have finished improving just yet, and stamina isn’t an issue. Eddystone Rock is another prolific sort, winning his last two starts, most recently a valuable two-mile handicap at York in August. He saw out the trip well that day, and is interesting here off a 4 lb higher mark.

Coeur de Lion is another in fine heart, producing an excellent effort to finish third in a competitive staying handicap at Newbury on his most recent start in June. He doesn’t have the assistance of his usual partner, the 5 lb claimer Thore Hammer Hansen, and may find his current mark a tough one under a fully fledged rider. Finally, Sneaky Getaway was out of his depth in the Doncaster Cup last month, and although he was a convincing winner of a two-mile handicap at Tramore in August, his current mark is a tough one. 

In summary, this is as painstakingly competitive as you would expect, though it’s difficult to ignore the improving three-year-old Land Of Oz, who arrives here on a roll, and could be able to extend his prolific winning run off his revised mark after impressing when winning the trial for this here last month. At a bigger price, it looks worth having an each-way saver on the Ian Williams-trained Time To Study, too, who also arrives here in fine form, and could be well treated on the pick of his old form.

Selections

Saturday 12th October 2019 - Land Of Oz @ 7/1

Saturday 12th October 2019 - Time To Study each-way @ 25/1

Tip

16:10 Newmarket
Land Of Oz silk

Land Of Oz

lost

Has been in fine form so far this season, winning six of his last seven starts, and improving a whopping 33 lb in the process. Won the trial race for this with something to spare over course and distance last month, and may be up to taking this off a 4 lb higher mark. 

Tip

16:10 Newmarket
Time To Study silk

Time To Study (EW)

lost

Experienced handicapper, who has gradually returned to form since joining the Ian Williams yard at the turn of the year. Showed plenty of resolve to win the competitive Old Borough Cup at Haydock under Cieren Fallon last month, and with the young rider booked to ride him once again here, he could offer some each-way value, considering he's still potentially well-treated on the pick of his old form for Mark Johnston. 

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