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Cambridgeshire Handicap – The Key Runners To Focus On + Outsiders To Look Out For

The Cambridgeshire is one of the feature Handicap races of the flat season, and one of the last real competitive Handicaps on the calendar for the year – competitive is certainly the word I would use to describe this years renewal of the race! 35 currently head to post for the £103,000 winning prize pot, with some jockeys getting very nice rides that could really take them to the next level should they win this.

GG editor Jake Russell previews this years race, identifying the key trends for the race, before running through the key runners as well as a couple of outsiders to look for. Finally, he gives his expert verdict on who he expects to come out on top in this year’s renewal.

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Last year’s renewal saw Mick Channon’s MAJESTIC fly home to cause a 25/1 upset in the race off a featherweight of just 7st 11lbs:

Key Runners

23. Greek Order

(Harry & Roger Charlton/Oisin Murphy)

In what is an ultra competitive handicap, we have a relatively short priced market leader in the shape of the hat-trick seeking Harry & Roger Charlton horse Greek Order, who has the expertise of 3x Champion Jockey Oisin Murphy onboard this weekend. In the races 46 year history, there has only ever been 8 winning favourites (1 who was also co-favourite back in 1994) with the last winning market leader being Lord North, who we know went on to be a Group 1 winning animal, winning over 6 million pounds in prize money.

Greek Order arrives into this race chasing the hat-trick, after a win in a Class 4 contest at Sandown, before going on to win a Class 3 Handicap at Newbury last time, smashing his rivals by just under 5 lengths. The nicely bred son of Kingman still looks to be improving at the rate of knots, and he is very much the unexposed Lord North type in the contest this year, who could go onto bigger and better things this season if running well in this. Ground conditions wont be a concern, as he has won on good and good to soft conditions in the past, plus I feel the Harry and Roger Charlton mount might not have stopped improving as yet.

There has however been a few big priced shock winners in this race recently, with Majestic (25/1) winning last year off a featherweight 7-11, Bedouin’s Story (40/1) in 2021 and Majestic Dawn (40/1) in 2020. It is a race that very much puts the cats amongst the pigeons for any horse that heads the market with no real draw bias, but it might be worth seeing how they get on as the races unfold throughout the day.

bet365 Cambridgeshire (Heritage Handicap)

15. Dual Identity

(William Knight/Marco Ghiani)

From the unexposed market leader to one of the stalwarts of this race and the William Knight team, who ran a decent 3rd in the contest last season, where he was quite unlucky when getting drawn on the wrong side of the track last season. He was the winner of his group of eight, and was only beaten by just under 2 lengths by a horse who was a little way lower than him in the weights.

He has been pretty busy this season, running in some very competitive Handicap contests over the 1 mile to 1m2f trip, including a career best victory last time out in a Class 2 contest at Sandown, where he beat Certain Lad by 4 and a half lengths. He has been slightly disappointing in all of his runs before that success last time, slightly trickling down the weights, however with the win last time it puts him back up to the mark of 95, which he’s seemingly struggled to win off, so that could be a slight concern. But, he has now put his head back in front and won a race which will give the horse plenty of confidence.

Another thing he benefits from is he does tend to operate on any type of ground, with his best career performances coming on the better side of good ground conditions. The William Knight gelding was drawn in 6 last season, and with the slightly better draw of 16 this time around, he could run his usual consistent race and go two places better than last season.

bet365 Cambridgeshire (Heritage Handicap)

1. Astro King

(Daniel & Claire Kubler/Richard Kingscote)

This race is a notoriously difficult test for the horses carrying top weight, as there hasn’t been a top-weight winner of the race since Educate in 2013 where he ran off of 9-9. Daniel & Claire Kubler are a team doing very well this season, and they especially do well with these types of horses who might have been expensive back in the day, owned by the bigger owners in the game.

This horse could only achieve the peak rating of 102 when trained by Sir Michael Stoute and owned by Saeed Suhail, finishing 25th of 26 runners in this contest last season. Fast forward to the new season and he has changed hands to a new yard and ownership and has already put in an excellent 4th in stable debut at York in a competitive Class 2, beaten by just under 2 lengths. Before going on to run in the Royal Hunt Cup where he was fairly well beaten, he then went on to finish 2nd in the John Smith’s Cup beaten a nose by Pride Of America (Who has since placed in Listed company) before putting in a career best performance last time out. That was a length and half victory at York in another classy competitive race, with the ground conditions reading good to firm on the day, as expected for the Cambridgeshire on Saturday.

I think the yard have worked wonders with this horse, and whatever they are doing it is clearly working very well. Although we haven’t seen a top weight winner of this race in 10 years, I think this horse has it in him to lumber all that weight around and go well for a team doing so well this season.

bet365 Cambridgeshire (Heritage Handicap)

10. Oviedo

(Edward Bethell/Callum Rodriguez)

Edward Bethell is another trainer who is seemingly having a fantastic season, with his stable star and recent Group 1 winner Regional winning the Sprint Cup Stakes at Haydock earlier this month. His runner in the Cambridgeshire Oviedo has been a real model of consistency this season and has to arrive in this contest on Saturday with a real chance of running well here once again.

He was last seen finishing second in a hugely competitive York handicap with the winner Astro King re-opposing here again today. Oviedo only has a 2lb rise in the weights from that decent 2nd last time, and is a similar rating to Astro King once again, with only a 4lb difference in the ratings, but he gets 9lb’s of weight off his rival from last time. The three-year-old could well run well off 103 in this contest, and could be one for the future with these competitive Handicaps, unless he bolts up in this and looks like a Group horse in a Handicap, which is very much possible given he is lightly raced and has been pitched in a few black type contest already in his 9 career runs.

bet365 Cambridgeshire (Heritage Handicap)

2. Saga

(John & Thady Gosden/Ryan Moore)

This horse is going to prove quite popular for a few, as he has always promised to be a fairly decent type who has run in some good contests in the past, and there is always eyes on him no matter where he goes. The John and Thady Gosden runner is is a fascinating contender for His Majesty The King, last seen competing in Listed company at Sandown where he finished 3rd of just 4 runners, only beaten by 3 lengths. That wasn’t as bad of a run as it might seem, although he was fancied to win the race the smaller field probably didn’t suit at all, and back into a race with plenty of runners and cover, he could go a little better than he has shown previously.

A drop back into handicaps could bring some notable improvement out of him, as his best form has come in these types of races. With a 2nd at Newmarket earlier on this season in the Howden Suffolk Stakes, not beaten all that far, and a 5th at Royal Ascot in June when not getting the rub of the green during the race.

The Gosden’s have done well in this race previously, with John Gosden being the winning most trainer with 5 wins to his name, with the yard winning two of the last five renewals of the Cambridgeshire. He has plenty of weight to carry in this, but he does always tend to wherever he goes in Handicap company. I’m sure he will have plenty of supporters with Ryan Moore booked in the quite famous racing colours.

bet365 Cambridgeshire (Heritage Handicap)

Lively Outsiders

21. Terwada

(Ed Walker/Tom Marquand)

Previous running’s of this race have showed looking for one at a bigger price isn’t a bad idea, with two 40/1 shots and a 25/1 winner in the last three years! I’ll start with Tom Marquand’s ride Terwada who is trained by Ed Walker. The son of Tamayuz was not seen as a 2yo, and has only had the 5 runs as a 3yo this season, which does include two wins. A very easy 9 length winner on good to firm ground at Nottingham back in June, that was only a Novice Stakes victory, but the manner he won it in suggests he could be a force at this sort of trip. He then backed that up with a nice victory over The Gatekeeper in a Class 3 Handicap at Newmarket, winning by a length and a half off the mark of 90. Before going on to run in the Clipper next time where he finished 7th of 19 runners. However, he was only beaten by 4 lengths, and crucially was badly hampered in running when staying on 2 furlongs from home and really mounting a challenge. That did seem to slightly knock the wind out of his sails, although he was running on again close to the line.

He has been dropped a pound since that run and I think the mark of 95 is way below what he might become, as I think he is easily a 105+ rated horse in the making. With all of his best runs have come on good to firm ground conditions, which is what is expected for Newmarket on Saturday, I think he is really underestimated in the market. If he got a clear run last time he would have finished a lot closer to the main finishers. His finishing position last time can be a little deceiving as he was unlucky in running and Tom Marquand is one of the best around at the moment, he could guide this lightly raced horse to a big career victory.

bet365 Cambridgeshire (Heritage Handicap)

24. Thunder Ball

(Paul & Oliver Cole/Mohammed Tabti)

A real plum ride for young Mohammed Tabti who is a young jockey to keep an eye on going forward. He has ridden the Paul and Oliver Cole horse on a few occasions in his career, and it is nice to see that connections have put him onboard once again in what will be his biggest ride to date in a very valuable Handicap contest.

A 3yo who did place on a few occasions as a 2yo without winning, he has since come on leaps and bounds with every run he has contested in this term. Which includes a victory in Novice company at Newbury in May where he won by 4 lengths, and probably a career best run when finishing 4th at Royal Ascot in the Britannia Stakes. He was only beaten by 3 lengths that day, and was beaten by some classy horses, on good to firm conditions which will suit him this Saturday. He was a little disappointing in his run after the Royal Ascot effort, coming 6th of 9 in a Handicap, but he was only beaten by 4 lengths on the day. Last time out was a career best of his when crossing the line in front, but was then demoted to 2nd by the stewards due to interference, he still ran with huge credit and battled on well under Mohammed when needing to.

I think he is a type who is still improving, and was unlucky not to have a one to his name after that run last time. This is an excellent opportunity for young Mohammed Tabti who has a decent ride in a very prestigious Handicap contest.

bet365 Cambridgeshire (Heritage Handicap)

Big-Race Verdict

A typically competitive handicap, I have had three darts at the board for this. Astro King seems to have found a new lease of live for his new connections, and that success last time was quite an eye-catching one, for a team who do very well with this type of horse. He carries top-weight, but usually they are the best horses in the race when having to lumber that much weight around. Terwada is a very lightly raced, unexposed sort who was quite unlucky last time when finishing 7th in a competitive handicap, he would have finished closer to the front three if he wasn’t hampered at the point he was, he then ran on well at the end as they ran to the line, I think he could have learnt a little from that last time and run well at a price here. Another runner at a very decent price is Thunder Ball, who like Terwada was unlucky last time not to win, loosing the race in the stewards room after finishing with his head in front. I think he could be one to also out run his huge odds.

SELECTION: Astro King (E/W – 14/1 generally), Terwada (E/W – 18/1 generally) & Thunder Ball (E/W – 33/1 generally)

*odds correct at time of posting – 12.50pm Friday 29th September*

Our tip
Place bet
Astro King Astro King
1st 14/1
Terwada Terwada
31th 16/1
Thunder Ball Thunder Ball
7th 33/1

Check out this weeks Weekend Watch, where Andrew gives his tips for the ITV action on Saturday alongside Dave Young and Kate Tracey. The trio also give their picks for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on Sunday:

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