The Dewhurst Stakes is the most prestigious race for colts and fillies aged two and the winner of the race often becomes the winter favourite for the 2,000 Guineas the following spring. Saturday’s renewal at Newmarket is one of the strongest in recent years and Too Darn Hot, the favourite, could be the next superstar from the John Gosden yard. He prepared Enable to win a second Arc after just one outing on the All-Weather this season. However, Aidan O’Brien will have his say in the Dewhurst.
The Newmarket card also features the Cesarewitch which is the second leg of the Autumn Double. The Cambridgeshire run over nine furlongs was the first race but the Cesarewitch is twice the distance. Back in the 19th century the double was a genuine target but in the modern era no horse can excel over such a range of distances. The race distance is two miles and two furlongs but its run over one circuit. The Newmarket Rowley Mile course is vast and the Cesarewitch begins in one county and ends in another. The race is a lucrative heritage handicap and a test of stamina.
Willie Mullins often targets well weighted predominantly jumps horses at staying handicaps in Britain on the Flat. Limini is his latest proven jumps horse to run in the Cesarewitch. The horse won the mares’ novices’ hurdle race at the Cheltenham Festival in 2016 which was a Grade 2 contest. If there were eight hurdles around Newmarket Limini would win by a furlong. However, it would be sacrilege to have obstacles at the home of Flat racing so there is no jumping for Limini this time. The horse could achieve the rare distinction of winning races at the homes of both National Hunt and Flat racing.
Mullins also trains Stratum who is owned by Tony Bloom, the owner and chairman of Brighton Football Club. Apparently he is one of the shrewdest sports bettors out there and he only invests in decent horses. He also owns Withhold, one of the leading contenders for the Melbourne Cup. The combination of Mullins and Bloom in a lucrative handicap in Britain could be a tip in itself but a handicap with a maximum field of 34 runners will never be easy to work out. The Dewhurst Stakes is another kettle of fish. O’Brien has won the race six times.
The leading Irish trainer often enters his best juvenile colts in the race. He has won the race in the last three years and the winner in 2016, Churchill, won the 2,000 Guineas the next year. Ryan Moore has been on O’Brien’s winners in 2015, 2016 and 2017 but at the time of writing riding plans had not been announced. At the five day declaration stage O’Brien trained eight of the 12 runners still left in the race. On ratings Anthony Van Dyck is his best chance so it will be interesting to see if Moore takes the ride or is the jockey on a stable mate.
Barring injury or illness Frankie Dettori will ride Too Darn Hot for Gosden. The partnership won the Arc last Sunday with Enable and Dettori has now won Europe’s richest Flat race six times. However, he has never won the Dewhurst but has had many rides and sometimes on leading contenders. The horse Moore decides to partner, which will probably be Anthony Van Dyck, can prevail and prevent Dettori from winning that first elusive Dewhurst Stakes. That means there will be no flying dismount at Newmarket on Saturday and Irish trainers win the two big races.