Big Race History: Cambridgeshire Handicap
Beauchamp Pilot, in Erik Penser’s orange and white colours (left), strikes the front on his way to landing the 2002 Cambridgeshire
First run in 1839 the Cambridgeshire Handicap is an intriguing and sometime impossible handicap to fathom. It forms the first leg of the Autumn double that is completed by the two-mile two-furlong Cesarewitch which nowadays is run two weeks later. Malcolm Pannett examines the history of the race.
"Roseberry (1876) achieved a feat that is very unlikely to be repeated nowadays by becoming the first of three horses to win both legs of the Autumn Double in the same year"The Cambridgeshire was first run in 1839 and was won by Lanercost who beat Mickleton Maid and 10 others over a mile at Newmarket. Lanercost went onto become a classy stayer who won 22 races, including the Gold Cup at Ascot, and had some notable tussles with Bee's Wing.
See Saw (1868), whose dam was Margery Daw, was the last to prevail over a mile. He beat Derby-winner Blue Gown after a cracking duel. From then on the Cambridgeshire trip was extended to nine furlongs.
In those days the Cesarewitch was run before the Cambridgeshire and horses were more versatile or less specialised, depending on your point of view. So it was no surprise when Roseberry (1876) achieved a feat that is very unlikely to be repeated nowadays by becoming the first of three horses to win both legs of the Autumn Double in the same year. The other two were Foxhall (1881) and Plaisanterie (1885).
Classic winners would also be pitched into the Cambridgeshire in that era for lack of other options in what was a less extensive programme book. However they were allotted huge weights and were rarely successful. However fillies' Triple Crown winner La Fleche did manage to buck the trend in 1892.
Hackler's Pride (1903 and 1904) was the first to win twice and has been followed by Christmas Daisy (1909 and 1910); Sterope (1948 and 1949); Prince de Galles (1969 and 1970); Baronet (1978 and 1980) who was also second in 1977 and 1981; and Rambo's Hall (1989 and 1992).
Arguably the best recent winner of the Cambridgeshire was Halling (1994) who went on to win five Group 1s (two Eclipses, two International Stakes at York and the Prix d'Ispahan at Longchamp) as well as three decent races in Dubai.
There were dead-heats in 1927 and 1961, and the race was run in two divisions in 1939 with the wins going to Gyroscope and Orichalaque.
In 1940 it was staged at Nottingham with Caxton running out the winner. In 1943 and 1944 during World War II there were equivalent races at Ascot and Stockton in addition to Newmarket
There were no races in 1920 or 1942 while in 1986 and 1999, the races won by Dallas and She's Our Mare (see below), the race was transferred to the July Course.
25 Year Ago - A one-two for Steve Norton who trained winner Leysh and runner-up Morwray who dominated the finish down the stand's side. The latter looked to have it won but under strong driving Leysh got back up in the final few strides to win his fourth race of the season by a neck.
10 years ago - Irish-invader She's Our Mare, at 11/1, overcame bad luck in running to win in the hands of Frankie Norton on the July Course. Tony Martin's dual-purpose daughter of Commanche Run, who had won the Swinton Hurdle at Haydock five months earlier, found her way blocked entering the final furlong. But once she found racing room she zoomed home to deprive favourite Bomb Alaska in the last few strides with Shadoof and Grinkov coming home third and fourth. All of Newmarket's fixtures were held on the July course that season while the Millennium Grandstand was being constructed. As a result the Cambridgeshire was a furlong longer than usual with each extra yard being simultaneously relished by She's Our Mare while sticking in the craw of favourite backers.
Five years ago - Spanish Don became the second 100/1 winner of the Cambridgeshire after Pullover in 1932. David Elsworth's charge ran on resolutely to just pip Take A Bow on the line. The official margin was a neck with a further length-and-a-quarter back to Fine Silver. Pedrillo, sent off market leader at 7/2, never settled and found nothing in the latter stages trailing in 22nd of the 32 runners. Dumaran reared at the start and after hitting his head on the superstructure took no further part. Spanish Don followed up in the Listed Jane Seymour Stakes three weeks later.
Last Year - A rewarding change of mount for Richard Hills who partnered the John Gosden-trained Tazeez to a 25/1 triumph. Hills had originally been due to partner Mutajarred but once it was decided the ground would be too fast for him Hills, as retained jockey to Hamdan Al Maktoum, switched to Tazeez. Outsider Nanton, at 66-1, made a bold bid from the front but was gradually reeled in with Tazeez eventually prevailing by a length with 7-1 favourite Swop running on well to grab third. Tazeez added to that victory with a win in the Group 3 Earl of Sefton Stakes on his seasonal debut in April this year.