SIR Mark Prescott can recall a few renewals of the Betfred Cesarewitch to have slipped out of his grasp but he returns with another viable contender in Newmarket’s marathon handicap.
Renowned for the astute placing of his horses, the Newmarket trainer maintains Pallasator’s light campaign before this weekend is not part of some Machiavellian scheme. “The trainer’s record in the Cesarewitch is lamentable – I’ve had five beaten favourites including two near certainties,” laughed Prescott. “I thought that it would take an Act of Parliament to stop Alleluia from winning in 2001 after she had won the Doncaster Cup, but she fractured her pelvis with two furlongs to run. Thankfully we were able to save her as a broodmare.
“The other horse I remember well which should have won was Hasten To Add (1993), who was very much a talking horse and was owned by an American lady called Abercrombie. American racing is all on dirt tracks, a mile more or less round, and I told her she’d better come over and watch the horse run as he was favourite for the Cesarewitch.
“She said ‘tell me about the race’, and the first thing I said was it’s two-and-a- quarter miles. She said ‘right, how many runners?’ The largest field in the States is 14, so I told her just the 36. I did think she thought I was taking the mickey, and she said ‘how many laps do they go round’. She couldn’t believe it. Anyway the horse ran well but just got beaten.”
Pallasator won three times last season but did not run this term until last month’s Old Borough Cup at Haydock, when he was third. “We wanted to start him off in the Northumberland Plate, but we had a hold-up and we were eight weeks behind with him,” Prescott said. “Pallasator has a very, very good chance if he stays.”
Nicky Henderson has collected the Cesarewitch twice so far with Landing Light and Caracciola and he is back with another hurdler, Lieutenant Miller, and French recruit Earth Amber. Another leading contender is the Mikel Delzangles-trained Smoky Hill.
Oriental Fox, who picked up this year’s trial, over the course and distance, has the help of man-of-the-moment Johnny Murtagh and is one of three starters for Mark Johnston. “Oriental Fox’s chance is there for everyone to see – he won the trial and is 2lb ‘well-in’ on the ratings,” said Johnston.
Godolphin needed to buy into last year’s winner of the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes but the team has found a juvenile from their own production line with a leading chance of defending today’s renewal of the key Group 1.
Jim Bolger’s Dawn Approach carried the blue silks to success before returning to the Rowley Mile this spring to take the 2000 Guineas and there are hopes the Darley-bred Outstrip can follow in his example. Only six runners have been declared and it looks like being another battle between Godolphin and Coolmore, who send out Outstrip’s market rival War Command.
War Command is 5lb superior on official ratings and showed such a memorable turn of foot when coming six lengths clear in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot. Richard Hannon has indicated Toormore may not run again this term but needs all the prize money he can find to stave off O’Brien in his pursuit of the champion trainer title. His representative is Anjaal, who won a maiden at Beverley but took a marked step up in class in his stride when staying on to good effect in the July Stakes.
At York, Richard Fahey is hoping Baccarat can supply him with a third victory in six years in the Coral Sprint Trophy.
The Sir Robert Ogden-owned four-year-old landed the Great St Wilfrid at Ripon earlier this season but could manage only fifth when well fancied for the Ayr Gold Cup last month.
“A combination of factors stopped him winning at Ayr,” said Ogden’s racing manager Barry Simpson. “He wasn’t drawn on the right side, the pace was all away from him, and I don’t think he ran as well as we all expected him to. He ran OK, but not to the best of his ability as we think he’s a very talented horse.”