The Cesarewitch is a race that starts in Cambridgeshire and ends in Suffolk and in fact is run over two racecourses but that will not be an issue for Starchitect, the horse with the best English hurdles form in the race. However, Modem has run some eye catching races over the smaller obstacles in Ireland and could be the fly in the ointment. Ante post backers got some good news because the early doors favourite, St Michel, sneaks into the race at the bottom of the handicap.
The second leg of the Autumn Double is run at Newmarket over two miles two furlongs. The start is on the July Course and the finish is on the Rowley Mile. The 18 furlong contest straddles the two counties which is unique. Low numbers have an advantage despite the distance. About one mile from home the horses must turn at right angles so those on the inside of the track are better placed. Starchitect can overcome a draw of 26 and Modem is in stall two which is a big positive.
The Cesarewitch is open to horses aged three and over but only one horse from that age group has won the race this century. Since 2008 the range of ages of the winner is from 4 to 11. The last three winners have carried eight stone eight pounds or less and since 2000 five winners have carried nine stone or more. The average price of the winner over the last ten years is 35/1 and since 2012 two horses at 66/1 and one at 50/1 have won the race. Four of the last 10 winners were dual purpose horses.
Leading trainer and jockey records were set 50 years and more ago. The only multiple winner, Aim To Prosper, won the Cesarewitch in 2010 and 2012 carrying 7-13 and 9-10. The horse must have been an absolute handicap good thing in the first race despite starting at 16/1. Aim To Prosper was a huge 66/1 two years latter and delivered again. National Hunt trainers have won the last two Cesarewitch’s and Starchitect is trained by David Pipe and Modem is in the care of Jessica Harrington from that sphere.
St Michel qualified for the field of 34 runners in 33rd place in the handicap so only just got in which must have pleased ante-post backers who have forced the horse into 6/1 favouritism. On official ratings St Michel is 19 pounds ahead of the handicapper and gets a weight-for-age allowance which in theory means the horse will be passing the post on the Rowley Mile while the opposition is still plodding around the July Course. Racing in general and big field handicaps in particular don’t always run to form.
Starchitect ran off a BHA rating of 141 when fifth at Cheltenham and third at Aintree in competitive handicaps in 2015 but won off 143 at Newton Abbot that May. Hurdle form does not always translate to the Flat but the fact that the horse has run well in big runner handicaps augers well for Newmarket. On paper Starchitect cannot beat Sir Michel but fortunately the race is run on grass and handicaps like the Cesarewitch are not an exact science, otherwise the bookies would be poor and they are not.
Modem carries just one pound more than Starchitect and has a manageable weight. The horse’s best ratings performance was when well down the field at the 2015 Cheltenham Festival. Modem won an amateur handicap at Galway last July but off a low weight and in theory has three pounds to make up with Starchitect but is four times the price. Modem looks the each-way value but its better to take a lower price with a bookmaker paying out on the first five places. This is a concession that should be open to all for handicap with so many runners.
St Michel could turn out to be the bet of a lifetime but many handicap good things have been turned by unexposed horses. There could be horses that have been laid out for the Cesarewitch and the betting public are totally unaware but on hurdles form Starchitect looks a good thing and Modem can run into a place but this race is the Cesarewitch so nothing is set in stone and don’t rule out Grumeti who could emulate Aim To Prosper but Starchitect is preferred.