The Cambridgeshire meeting at Newmarket is one of the most eagerly anticipated race meetings of the season. It takes place later in the year, often in September and it combines Group quality races with top handicap action.
The meeting has been known as a hot bed for both upcoming and more established talent. The fact that many of the races are juvenile contests open to two-year-old horses means that it’s a place where many punters come to see the stars of the future, even if they aren’t quite sure who they are yet.
It’s the quality of racing that is on offer that make the Cambridgeshire meeting so special. It is split over three days, running from Thursday through to Saturday, with each day getting that little bit more exciting.
But, the meeting is more than just another racing fixture as it’s one of Newmarket’s busiest times for fans. Included over the three days is the name famous Beer Festival, where breweries from near and far are able to showcase their work. This adds to the almost carnival atmosphere at the course and is another reason why it’s become so popular with racegoers.
Newmarket boasts two tracks at their famous course, in the form of the Rowley Mile and the July Course. The Cambridgeshire meeting is held on the Rowley Mile Course which covers just over one mile and two furlongs of Suffolk countryside.
Newmarket Cambridgeshire Meeting Major Races
The Autumn may see the flat season come to an end, but it is an important time for Newmarket and their Rowley Mile course with two key meetings centred around two valuable handicaps. These are the Cambridgeshire and the Cesarewitch and they are known as the Autumn double. First up is the Cambridgeshire Meeting.
About the Cambridgeshire Meeting
The meeting is held over the three days and what you’re going to find is that the racing really starts to ramp up over each day. The idea is that they are able to cater for a wide range of punters each day and for each of them they do include at least one headline race. In total there are three Group 1 races that are run over the three days, which are the Cheveley Park stakes, Middle Park stakes and the Sun Chariot Stakes. But, even though there are ‘only’ three Group 1 races, the quality of racing throughout the three days makes this one of the premier flat racing meetings of the season in what is Newmarket’s penultimate big meeting of the season as well.
In total there was over £1.6 million in prize money on the table in 2023. Here is a breakdown of each days racing:
Day 1 on Thursday: 2023 Racecard
|Time||Race||Grade / Length|
|13:50||British Stallion EBF Maiden Stakes||Class 4 / 1m|
|14:25||Nursery Handicap Stakes||Class 4 / 1m|
|15:00||British EBF Premier Fillies’ Handicap||Class 2 / 6f|
|15:35||Tattersalls Stakes||Group 3 / 7f|
|16:10||Jockey Club Rose Bowl Stakes||Listed / 2m|
|16:45||Graham Budd Auction Handicap||Class 2 / 1m 4f|
|17:18||National Stud Handicap||Class 4 / 1m|
|17:53||Newmarket Challenge Whip Handicap||Class 4 / 1m 2f|
Day one see’s the Tattersalls Stakes take place, which is a Group 3 race and one of the oldest at the meeting. The race comes with a £60,000 purse and is one of the races that caters for 2 year old horses. The race is over 7 furlongs and is one of the quicker races, even though it’s frequented by younger horses.
The race has had some big names take place and win over the years, including Where or When, Milk It Mick, Arctic Sound and Havana Gold. The legendary Pat Eddery has dominated the race in terms of jockey’s, with 6 wins to his name from 1977 through to 2003. Sir Henry Cecil is the leading trainer in the race with 5 wins from 1982 through to 1998.
The Jockey Club Rose Bowl used to be called the Fenwolf Stakes and was hosted by Ascot Racecourse. In 2011 it switched to Newmarket, along with its name as the Rose Bowl. The race takes place over 2 miles and is one of the longest races of the meeting.
William Buick is the most successful jockey in the race with four wins, with John Gosden the leading trainer, also with four wins to his name.
Day 2 on Friday: 2023 Racecard
|Time||Race||Grade / Length|
|13:50||Dubai British EBF Rosemary Stakes||Listed / 1m|
|14:25||Princess Royal Dubai Stakes||Group 3 / 1m 4f|
|15:00||Dubai Rockfel Stakes||Group 2 / 7f|
|15:35||Dubai Joel Stakes||Group 2 / 1m|
|16:10||Dubai British EBF Maiden Stakes (Div I)||Class 4 / 7f|
|16:45||Dubai British EBF Maiden Stakes (Div II)||Class 4 / 7f|
|17:20||Dubai Godolphin Stakes||Listed / 1m 4f|
|17:55||Dubai Handicap Stakes||Class 3 / 1m 1f|
The Rockfel Stakes has been run since 1981 and is one that is open to 2-year-old fillies. It’s another of the highlights of the race meeting and with it comes an impressive £107,000 purse, with over £60,000 being awarded to the winner.
The race was named after the horse, Rockfel, who was able to win two Classics in 1938. The race has gone right through the ranks in terms of classification, first starting as a Listed race, then an upgrade to Group 3 in 1986 and then finally Group 2 status in 1998, where it remains today.
The race is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge with the winner gets entry to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf Race that takes place in a rotating venue each year in North America. Often horses that have performed well in race can go on to run in the 1000 Guineas as well. Finsceal Beo is the latest of four winners that have won both races.
There are two jockey’s tied with most wins in the race’s history; Frankie Dettori and Michael Hills with four each. The leading trainer for the race is Barry Hills, also with four wins to his name.
The Joel Stakes is probably the pick of the Group 2 races for the meeting and with it comes an £125,000 prize fund as a result. The race is open to horses that are 3 years old and older and utilises one mile of the Rowley Course.
The race has been running since 1997 and was originally called the Main Reef Stakes. It was exclusively for 3-year olds initially and was named after a horse called Main Reef, which was owned by Jim Joel. The race opened its doors in 1989 to older horses and following the death of Jim Joel in 1992, the race was named after him in 1994 to honour his work within the racing industry.
The first upgrade of the race came about in 2003 going from Listed level to Group 3, before eventually getting Group 2 status in 2011.
Oisin Murphy is the race’s most successful jockey with four wins, one ahead of Jim Crowley, Michael Hills, Michael Kinane and Ryan Moore with three each. Saeed bin Suroor and Sir Michael Stoute are the most successful trainers, with four wins each to their names.
Successful horses have included Cityscape, Eagle Mountain and Beckett, to name just a few.
Princess Royal Stakes
The Princess Royal Stakes is one of the latest additions to that of the Cambridgeshire meeting. Even though it’s only been at the meeting since 2007, the race was previously run at Ascot Racecourse and was first run back in 1947.
The race has jumped about with names and ratings but through no fault of it’s own. The race had previously run at Ascot, moving to Newmarket as the Pride Stakes in 2008 with a ‘New’ Princess Royal Stakes created as a Listed contest at Ascot. The Pride Stakes then switched back to Ascot to become the British Champions Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes in 2011, swapping with the Princess Royal Stakes which transferred to Newmarket. Incidentally a new Pride Stakes was created at Newmarket’s Future Champions Festival in October merging with a race that was called the Severals Stakes.
It was upgraded to a Group 3 race in 2017 and currently comes a purse of £80,000. Since it’s move to Newmarket in 2007 the race has seen the likes of Spirit of Dubai and Journey (the only multiple winner) come out on top.
Day 3 on Saturday: 2023 Racecard
|Time||Race||Grade / Length|
|13:50||Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes||Group 2 / 1m|
|14:25||Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes||Group 1 / 6f|
|15:00||Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes||Group 1 / 6f|
|15:40||bet 365 Cambridgeshire Handicap||Class 2 / 1m 1f|
|16:15||Blanford Bloodstock Maiden Fillies’ Stakes||Class 3 / 7f|
|16:50||‘Jersey Lily’ Fillies’ Nursery Handicap||Class 2 / 7f|
|17:25||Lope Y Fernandez First Foals 2023 Handicap||Class 2 / 7f|
Arguably the highlight of the festival and certainly the race that has the strongest affiliation with the Cambridgeshire meeting, is that of the Cambridgeshire Handicap. The race has been running since 1839 and is one of the oldest races in the country, let alone at the meeting.
The race actually has strong ties with the Cesarewitch, which is also run at Newmarket a couple of weeks after the Cambridgeshire Handicap. The pair of races were known as the Autumn Double. There was once a time where horses used to be entered into both races to win a lucrative double, but these days entry into both is rare and only three horses have completed the feat, all in the 19th Century.
The handicap race comes with a purse of £200,000 and is one of the biggest races of the whole meeting in terms of prize money. There have been several multiple-winners of the race, Hackler’s Parade, Christmas Daisy, Sterope, Prince de Galles, Baronet, Rambo’s Hall and most recently, Bronze Angel.
The leading Jockeys are Nat Flatman and George Fordham with four wins each. The leading trainer is John Gosden with five wins ahead of William Day and Jeremy Glover with four.
Cheveley Park Stakes
The Cheveley Park Stakes is one the Group 1 races at the meeting is widely regarded as the highest profile in terms of stature. The race is over 6 furlongs, so it’s short and fast, but it is very exciting for the punters to watch.
The race is named after Cheveley Park, which is an estate that was owned by Harry McCalmont in 1892. The first race was run in 1899 and is now one of the feeder races for horses to then enter the 1,000 Guineas. The first horse to ever complete the lucrative double was that of Pretty Polly in 1903/04 and the most recent that of Special Duty in 2009/10.
The purse of over £275,000 brings out all of the big guns of the racing world. The most successful jockey is Sir Gordon Richards who won the race nine times from 1928 trough to 1953 in an illustrious career. The leading trainers are Aidan O’Brien, Alec Taylor Jr. and Criquette Head-Maarek, all with four wins to their names. Interestingly, O’Brien won this three years in a row between 2016 and 2018.
Middle Park Stakes
The third of the three Group 1 races, the Middle Park Stakes is one that rivals the Cheveley Park Stakes in terms of purse, with £291,580 up for grabs. The race includes colts that are two years old and follows the 6 furlong sprint on the Rowley Mile.
The race was founded by William Blenkiron in 1866 and was initially called the Middle Park Plate. The restriction to colts only came about in 1987 and it was added to the Cambridgeshire meeting in 2015, where it has been greatly received.
The race is another that is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series, which is a series of races that takes place all over the world and includes and illustrious list of races. The winners get a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint, which takes place at rotating courses across North America every year.
Horses that perform well in this race often go on to compete in the 2,000 Guineas with the most recent winner of both races being Rodrigo de Triano in 1991 and 1992.
There are three jockeys that hold the record for most wins, with Danny Maher, Sir Gordon Richards and Lester Piggott all winning the race six times. Leading trainer, Aiden O’Brien, has managed to notch up seven wins in the race.
The Autumn Double
The Autumn Double compromises of the Cambridgeshire Handicap and the Cesarewitch Handicap, two of the biggest races that occur at Newmarket each year. Both races were established in 1839 and they are both handicaps. Here’s how the two races compare:
Cambridgeshire & Cesarewitch Comparison
|Cambridgeshire||1m 1f||£200,000||3yo +||1839||September|
|Cesarewitch||2m 2f||£200,000||3yo +||1839||October|
The meeting is famed for having a plethora of 2-year-old races. A lot of them are Group 2 and up, which signifies a high calibre of racing given the young age of some of the horses. Often you get the first look of potential future stars here. Here is a look at how the 2-year-old races at the meeting compare with each other.
2-Y-O Races at the Cambridgeshire Meeting
|Race||Day||Class||1st Run||Dist.||Purse (2023)||Race For|
|British EBF Maiden||Thu||Class 4||–||1m||£10,000||Colts & Geldings|
|Nursery Handicap||Thu||Class 4||–||1m||£15,000||All|
|Tattersalls Stakes||Thu||Group 3||1962||7f||£60,000||Colts & Geldings|
|Rockfel Stakes||Fri||Group 2||1981||7f||£107,000||Fillies|
|British EBF Maiden (Div I)||Fri||Class 4||–||7f||£10,000||Colts & Geldings|
|British EBF Maiden (Div II)||Fri||Class 4||–||7f||£10,000||Colts & Geldings|
|Royal Lodge Stakes||Sat||Group 2||1946||1m||£125,000||Colts & Geldings|
|Cheveley Park Stakes||Sat||Group 1||1899||6f||£275,000||Fillies|
|Middle Park Stakes||Sat||Group 1||1866||6f||£291,580||Colts|
|Maiden Fillies’ Stakes||Sat||Class 3||–||7f||£15,000||Fillies|
|Fillies’ Nursery Handicap||Sat||Class 2||–||7f||£50,000||Fillies|
The Cambridgeshire was first run in 1839 and was immediately linked with a the Cesarewitch race to create two illustrious handicapped races. Initially there was £100 of prize money that was up for grabs, funds which were raised by the local gentry.
The race was initially ran over the part of the round training course at Newmarket, but as the race progressed, it eventually got moved to the flat and onto the now Rowley Mile Course. The race really took off after the war and with it the prize money started to increase.
This meant that it was now able to attract the best jockeys, trainers and of course, horses to the event. The current purse of £200,000 makes it one of the biggest races at the Cambridgeshire meeting and massively popular handicap race.
The large field size of the race means that anything can happen in the race, which is highlighted by the fact that only two favourites have won the race between 2008 and 2023, with the largest starting price for the winner coming in the form of 100/1 shot, Spanish Don, in 2004.
Bronze Angel is one of the most successful horses in the race and has won it on two occasions, in 2012 and then again in 2014. What is interesting about the wins is that each time they’ve had a different jockey, with William Buick riding in 2012 and then Louis Steward in 2014.
The horse born in Ireland is owned by Lady Tennant and M P N Tregoning and trained by Marcus Tregoning at his Hampshire stables. Over it’s career it’s had 53 races in total, with eight wins to its name, earning over £440,000.
There aren’t an awful lot of standout trainers in the race given how competitive this meeting is, but if you had to credit one person, it would be John Gosden who has now racked a record five wins in the Cambridgeshire Handicap itself.
His latest success came at the hands of one of his most trusted and decorated jockeys’ in Frankie Dettori. He rode 2019 winner Lord North to victory in the second fastest recorded time for the race on the Rowley Mile. Gosden has also done what no other trainer has done and had back to back winners in the Cambridgeshire. These came in 2007 and 2008 when Pipedreamer and then Tazeez won the race.