The Cesarewitch is a notoriously tricky call for punters but it’s easy to see why Low Key (8/1) heads the betting (3.50pm Saturday at Newmarket on CH4).
He comes into the race on the back of three wins and the most recent of them was three weeks ago, over this 2m2f course and distance in the Cesarewitch Trial. His cause was aided by Tom Marquand’s 3lb claim but the manner of his three and a half length victory suggested he didn’t need it – that was off a rating of 82.
A fortnight earlier he won a handicap hurdle over a furlong further at Fontwell. He was the dwarf of the field but managed to shoulder top weight and, having been headed in the closing stages, showed an admirable attitude to succeed by a short head. His previous win was a cakewalk in a maiden hurdle. He started as the odds-on favourite and won like one by nearly 20 lengths after being eased in the closing stages.
Previously owned and trained by John Butler, this eight-year-old son of Pentire was sold and moved to David Pipe’s (pictured) yard in July 2014. His flat rating has rocketed from 65 to 86 since but it looks as if there could be more to come from him – even with his 4lb penalty for his latest success. Martin Pipe won the Cesarewitch twice. Marquand takes the ride and looks to have a decent chance of giving the Pipe family their third win.
The booking of Ryan Moore for Tony Martin’s Quick Jack (10/1) has attracted attention. He was the 5/1 favourite here last year but found two too good, beaten a length by Philip Hobbs’ Big Easy. He was next seen at the 2015 Cheltenham Festival finishing a respectable third in the County Hurdle. He subsequently started as the 4/1 favourite in the Chester Cup at York in May but was beaten a length by Ed Dunlop’s progressive Trip To Paris.
Quick Jack went on to win the Galway Hurdle Handicap at the end of July, beating Max Dynamite by some two lengths. We last saw him starting as the 5/1 joint favourite in the Ebor at York and disappointing, finishing over 20 lengths behind the winner. Martin thinks the ground may have been a bit quick for him. Quick Jack is rated 6lb higher than when beaten here last year, is drawn 30 of 34 and holds little appeal, even with the assistance of Moore.
Martin also saddles Heartbreak City (10/1). This French-bred posted his first win since joining the yard in 2013 last time out at the Ebor meeting. Wearing a tongue tie for the first time, he ‘forged clear’ to beat David O’Meara’s Saved By The Bell (50/1) two and a half lengths.
Heartbreak City starts off a 9lb higher mark here but is more favourably drawn in stall nine. Martin admits he will need to improve but thinks that Newmarket should suit him and that he is in ‘good shape’. It is only his third start on the flat for Martin. Fran Berry partners the five year old for the first time.
Cassells Rock (33/1) is the third string for Martin. This five year old won a two mile hurdle race cosily at the end of August and started as the 7/2 favourite in the Cesarewitch Trial but faded tamely, beaten 16 lengths. He has the widest draw of all to overcome but, if the wheels have not fallen off, he looks an interesting each-way proposition at his current price.
Unlike Martin, Sir Mark Prescott has never won this race. The most fancied of his quartet is William Of Orange (12/1). This four year old was found wanting when stepped up into Group 2 company in the Doncaster Cup a month ago. He was beaten ten lengths by his wayward giant of a stablemate, Pallasator. Was Prescott deliberately protecting his handicap mark?
In his four other runs this year William Of Orange started as favourite and found one or two too good each time. His handicap mark has consequently crept up to 97. His last victory was a year ago off a mark of 82. He is well drawn but doesn’t look particularly well treated here.
Prescott’s stable jockey Luke Morris has presumably chosen to partner Moscato (25/1), another four year old. Moscato has scored five times in two mile handicaps after gaining an initial mark of 61 running over inadequate distances as a two year old. He’s now rated 93.
Moscato didn’t appear to benefit from the extra two furlongs in the Cesarewitch Trial and was beaten seven lengths. It was his first run after a four month break from the racecourse and the first time since July 2014 he’d failed to finish in the first two. He usually races prominently but different tactics may be tried – he has worn cheekpieces recently but will be without headgear here.
Prescotts’s other two, Deauville Dancer (20/1) and High Secret (25/1) are not hopeless causes either.
Trainer Mark Johnston has decent form in this race, winning it three times. This year he saddles Oriental Fox (20/1). This seven year old has more than covered his travelling expenses running in France and getting placed in Group 2 and 3 company recently over distances just short of two miles on soft ground.
His last win was at Royal Ascot over two miles five furlongs on good to firm. If the ground quickens it shouldn’t inconvenience him. He has to be one for the shortlist each-way.
Jumps trainers have a good record in this race too and Gordon Elliott is a man worth a second look in any valuable handicap. Bayan (16/1), a bargain buy for 14,000 Euros three years ago, has scored seven times since. He took the Ladbroke (Handicap Hurdle) in December.
We haven’t seen this six-year-old son of Danehill Dancer since he finished nearly 20 lengths behind Quick Jack in the Galway Hurdle. He was sent off at 20/1 and was weakening by the last where he made a mistake and got hampered for good measure.
In his previous two runs in two and a half mile hurdles he started as the favourite in both and got beaten into second (when 9/10) and third (when 11/10). Blinkers failed to garner any improvement. Back in April Bayan was the 5/2 favourite in the Balmoral Cup Handicap over a mile and three quarters on the flat. He was beaten 15 lengths into fifth. This horse has probably had a problem or two but Elliott is a master at sorting them out. Bayan’s absence of two and a half months is not the concern that it would be with other trainers. The Elliott factor makes this horse and interesting each-way prospect.
The top Irish jumps trainer Willie Mullins has demonstrated his prowess on the flat too but Rennetti (12/1) flopped badly in his most recent run. He was sent off as the 4/1 favourite in a mile and three quarter handicap on the flat at Leopardstown and finished 30 lengths behind the winner. That was a month ago.
Rennetti unquestionably has a very decent engine, he was beaten only half a length by The Tullow Tank in a Grade 1 Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse in December 2013 and gained a hurdle rating of 142. But this six-year-old son of Irish Wells also has attitude in abundance. In his only start last year he refused to race – he had fallen in his previous run three months earlier. After a break of 16 months Rennetti was still reluctant to start when lining up in a two mile hurdle at Sligo in August. Ruby Walsh successfully bustled him along to win by two lengths. Jamie Spencer partners him for the first time here. He may have to get animated long before the closing stages.
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to looking for the likely winner of the Cesarewitch. In the last decade two favourites (both were sent off at 9/2) have succeeded but in two of the past three renewals 66/1 outsiders have come up trumps.
Our Cesarewitch Preview’s Betting Tips Conclusion
In this morass of uncertainty, recent form looks the best indicator for punters. Oriental Fox (20/1) looks likely to give a good account of himself but our preference in this Cesarewitch betting tips preview has to be for LOW KEY at 8/1 each-way. He has course and distance form in the book and his attitude is second to none. He is best priced at 8/1 with Paddy Power or SkyBet, who are both offering each-way place terms of ¼ the odds on the first five places.