The Cambridgeshire Handicap, run over 1 mile 1 furlong on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket, is the betting highlight of the eponymous three-day meeting (3.50pm Saturday on CH4).
A maximum field of 35 runners makes it difficult to pick one with any degree of confidence, but we think we have found a betting tip that could go well for our big-race preview at rewarding odds.
Bronze Angel (8/1), who won the race in 2012 and 2014, returns for another crack and seems sure to be popular after returning to form with a convincing win over a mile at Doncaster two weeks ago. A 4lb penalty for that success puts him on a handicap mark of 108, 9lb higher than when winning last year and 3lb higher than when following up in the valuable Balmoral Handicap at Ascot on his final start last season. He does not look impossibly handicapped, but will need a career-best effort if he is to complete a hat-trick
Portage (10/1) beat subsequent winners Mutasayyid and Ashridge Lad on his first attempt on genuinely soft going at Ascot in July. He was far from disgraced off his revised mark when second of 22, beaten 1¾ lengths, in the Irish Cambridgeshire at the Curragh last month. The step up to 9f appears in his favour and he is far from fully exposed after just six career starts, so he must have excellent prospects of resuming winning ways.
Earth Drummer (16/1) finished a close second in the Shergar Mile at Ascot in August on his first start since January and seemingly failed to stay when beaten, but not disgraced, over 1 mile 2½ furlongs at York five weeks ago. He is only 4lb higher in the weights than when winning over 1 mile 1½ furlongs at Wolverhampton over the winter. Although his one attempt on soft going was inconclusive, he merits serious consideration.
At longer odds, Express Himself (25/1) has yet to win beyond 1 mile ½ furlong, but arguably recorded a career-best effort when third of 14, beaten 1½ lengths, behind Elkaayed over 1 mile 2½ furlongs at Doncaster in August and should appreciate dropping back in distance. He is 1lb higher in the weights here and consequently 1lb worse off for the 2¾ lengths he finished behind Musaddas (25/1) on the Rowley Mile in May, but has officially improved 10lb in the interim and may be able to reverse the form.
Royal Hunt Cup winner Gm Hopkins (12/1) will have his supporters, despite being 6lb higher than when scoring at Royal Ascot. On his penultimate start at Goodwood the now retired Richard Hughes gave him far too much to do, while he was a shade disappointing last time, albeit in group company. He started 5/1 that day and finished 9th to 4/1 winner Mondialiste, who has won a Grade 1 in Canada since, so the form is not too shabby. Jockey Frankie Dettori (pictured) still has that handy habit of coming up trumps on the big days. So returned to a handicap, Gm Hopkins might go well for John Gosden, a handler who likes this race. The Newmarket trainer would equal Jeremy Glover’s unlikely record of four Cambridgeshire wins if he did find himself sharing the winner’s enclosure with an over-excited Italian jockey.
We must just mention 2013 hero Educate (25/1) because this race has a habit of throwing up repeat performers. That’s because of its fairly unusual and specialist trip of nine furlongs. Educate is on a long losing run of 18 races, having failed to trouble the judge since that famous victory. As a result he races off a 2lb lower mark than two years ago and can not be dismissed at a big price.
Our Cambridgeshire Preview’s Betting Tips Verdict
Our ante-post fancy was the French-trained, multiple winner and 9f-specialist Zipzip. The Whipper gelding has improved so rapidly that he swerves this handicap in favour of Group 2 company in the Prix Dollar at Longchamp next weekend. That absence may leave the door open for Portage.
- Obviously the Cambridgeshire is fiercely competitive, but our preview’s betting tips advice is to back PORTAGE each-way at a current best price of 10/1 with SkyBet, who are offering one quarter the odds a place for the first SIX places. The Teofilio colt has quickly made up into a very useful handicapper and may prove better still in due course.