On the day labelled “Future Champions Day”, there is unsurprisingly an overload of top juvenile action for those with Classic aspirations headed into next season, but it’s not all about the Group class performers with real variety on offer from Newmarket. Also on the card is one of the premier handicap contests of the season, as the stayers go to post in this somewhat unusual event, the Cesarewitch Stakes.
Inaugurated in 1839, this race is run over a distance of two miles and a quarter miles. This trip opens the race to National Hunt trainers and horses with Willie Mullins, Alan King, Philip Hobbs and Nicky Henderson all victorious in recent years.
Cesarewitch Stakes Course Map (Rowley Mile)
Cesarewitch Stakes Past Winners
|2023||The Shunter||14/1||Emmet Mullins||James Doyle|
|2022||Run For Oscar||4/1||Charles Byrnes||David Egan|
|2021||Buzz||8/1||Nicky Henderson||Oisin Murphy|
|2020||Great White Shark||9/2||Willie Mullins||Jason Watson|
|2019||Stratum||25/1||Willie Mullins||Jason Watson|
|2018||Low Sun||10/1||Willie Mullins||Seamie Heffernan|
|2017||Withhold||5/1||Roger Charlton||Silvestre De Sousa|
|2016||Sweet Selection||7/1||Hughie Morrison||Silvestre De Sousa|
|2015||Grumeti||50/1||Alan King||Adam Beschizza|
|2014||Big Easy||10/1||Philip Hobbs||Tom Queally|
|2013||Scatter Dice||66/1||Mark Johnston||Silvestre De Sousa|
|2012||Aaim To Prosper||66/1||Brian Meehan||Kieren Fallon|
|2011||Never Can Tell||25/1||Jamie Osborne||Frankie Dettori|
|2010||Aaim to Prosper||16/1||Brian Meehan||Louis Beuzelin|
|2009||Darley Sun||9/2||David Simcock||Andrea Atzeni|
|2008||Caracciola||50/1||Nicky Henderson||Eddie Ahern|
|2007||Leg Spinner||14/1||Tony Martin||Johnny Murtagh|
|2006||Detroit City||9/2||Philip Hobbs||Jamie Spencer|
|2005||Sergeant Cecil||10/1||Rod Millman||Alan Munro|
|2004||Contact Dancer||16/1||Mark Johnston||Royston Ffrench|
About the Cesarewitch Stakes: The Marathon Autumn Handicap
In October, two weeks after the popular Cambridge Handicap, Newmarket hosts the second half of the ‘Autumn Double’, the Cesarewitch Handicap. While both are massive races in their own right, the standing of the Cesarewitch enjoyed a massive boost following the recent Dubai sponsorship deal. The partnership more than doubled the jackpot for the handicap, bumping it up to a huge £500,000 in 2018 though this dropped to £350,000 in 2019 and was £200,000 in 2022. Still one of the richest flat handicaps in the UK, demand remains high for this popular two mile, two furlong battle which can feature as many as 34 runners.
The rather unusually named race gets its title from the anglicised word for Tsesarevich, the title given in Imperial Russia to the next heir of the throne. But what does Russian royalty have to do with British horse racing? Well, Tsesarevich Alexander (later Tsar Alexander II) had a soft spot for the sport it seems as he donated £300 to the Jockey Club, not a trivial sum in those days. Not too far from two centuries later, the race continues to operate under his name and what a fine race it is to be attached to.
AGING CARACCIOLA STUNS NEWMARKET CROWD
When looking at the age of former Cesarewitch winners, there’s one record that jumps out from the rest. While the bulk of champions have been aged between four and seven, Caracciola completely bucked the trend by winning as an 11-year-old. His fine effort in 2008 saw him become the oldest ever champion of a race that dates back to 1839. The German-bred horse’s historic achievement was one that few saw coming but there was absolutely no luck involved during a commanding three length triumph.
Having finished second in the Cesarewitch a year earlier, perhaps the market ought to have had more faith in Caracciola but a combination of his age and lack of form proved sufficiently off-putting. With no support, the Nicky Henderson-trained (that also ought to have alerted punters) horse set off at a huge 50/1 price tag but he’s far from the only long-odds winner this race has seen in recent years.
Grumeti won at the same price in 2015 and there were two 66/1 champions just a few years earlier, in 2012 and 2013. It’s little surprise then why this race is such a huge hit with the punters who are frequently well compensated for picking out the winner. It isn’t an easy task, of course, but choose your bets wisely and even an each way punt can potentially lead to a big net win.
DON’T BE LEFT OUTSIDE
As you can see above, there’s rarely such a thing as a short-priced Cesarewitch winner. Even backing a placed horse can reap handsome returns, especially given the range of promotions the bookies usually offer for the contest. Picking a horse that makes the frame isn’t easy but a little assistance from the race trends can go a long way. One thing past results tells us is that those drawn close to the rail fare best while those on the very outside regularly struggle.
Looking at the data above, it does rather make sense when you think that this race takes place on an L shaped course. Those starting on the inside are well placed to take on the right handed turn whereas those beginning in a wide berth have a lot of traffic to cut across in order to get a more preferential line.
AAIM TO PROSPER MAKES HISTORY
In 2012, Aaim To Prosper delivered the seemingly impossible by winning the Cesarewitch Handicap for a second time. Never before had a horse been able to pull this off despite so many efforts over the years. The record-busting horse finished a credible seventh on his Cesarewitch debut and won as the favourite the following year when edging out La Vecchia Scuola.
Unable to defend his crown in 2011 as his season was cut short, Aaim To Propser returned to Newmarket 12 months later, trading as a whopping 66/1 outsider for a historic second title. Despite his huge price, the eight-year-old stayed on gamely for Kieren Fallon as he held off the 7/1 favourite Countrywide Flame to earn his place in the history books.
AAIM TO PROSPER’S CESARWITCH RUNS