Kenya won the Irish Cambridgeshire and at the weights has been given a decent chance to complete the double in the English version at Newmarket on Saturday. The heritage handicap over the Rowley Mile has a maximum field of 35 runners and the race looks like being fully subscribed. Kenya has produced the goods in the hurly burly of a big field handicap and can use that experience to win the Cambridgeshire for Aidan O’Brien. The jockey has not been named but it could be Ryan Moore.
The race is open to horses aged three and older and the distance is actually one mile and one furlong. The race was first run in 1839 so is one of the oldest handicaps on the calendar. The Cesarewitch was first run in the same year and the races form the Autumn Double. Three horses completed the double in the 19th century but horses with different attributes are suited to each race so it is now never attempted. In fact no horse has run in both races in the same year for more than a century.
The Cambridgeshire is a handicap which means each horse is allocated a weight based on proven form. The theory is that each of the 35 runners has an equal chance of finishing first. However, there will be unexposed horses who have been prepared for the race and they could be blots on the handicap. The trick is identifying horses on a winnable mark and in such a big field a number of runners may qualify. There could be a potential Group horse lurking in this handicap.
Naturally the winner of the race will go up in the weights and in such a open contest multiple winners are rare. In fact no horse has won the Cambridgeshire three times but seven have won it twice. Bronze Angel is the most recent dual winner (2012 and 2014) and carried eight stone and eight pounds in both races. The weights rise after the first win led to a dip in form and Bronze Angel slipped down the weights ahead of the second win two years later. The Starting Price was 9/1 and 14/1. Since 2000 there have been three winning favourites and the average price of the winner is 20/1.
The leading trainers and jockeys won the race four times but both those records were set in the 19th century. Marcus Tregoning trained Bronze Angel and is the only trainer to win the race more than once since John Gosden was the winning trainer with two different horses in 2007 and 2008. Since 2000 no jockey has ridden the winner more than once. Moore has never won the Cambridgeshire and Frankie Dettori’s only winner was in 1994.
Kenya won the Irish Cambridgeshire with plenty in hand and can accommodate an eight pounds rise in the weights. Horses that are trained outside the UK are worth considering. The form of races in Britain and Ireland can be hard to compare so Kenya could be that horse given too little weight. The winner often makes progress from a previous race but Kenya’s form is now in the public domain. The horse was in a different class in Ireland and can complete the Cambridgeshire double at Newmarket this weekend.