If ever a race was made for this column, the Cambridgeshire, which invariably features a maximum field of 35 runners thundering over 1 mile 1 furlong on the Rowley Mile Course at Newmarket, is the race. Three favourites have won in the last 10 years, but winners at 40/1, 25/1, 16/1 and 14/1 (twice) in the same period provide plenty of cause for optimism.
Brendan Brackan (50/1) hasn’t won for over a year, but has consequently dropped 7lb in the weights and can race off the same handicap mark as when winning his last handicap, by 8½ lengths, at Galway two seasons ago. Ger Lyons’ 6-year-old showed definite signs of a revival when keeping on to finish fifth of 22, beaten 4¾ lengths, behind Hint Of A Tint in the Tote Irish Cambridgeshire, over a mile, at the Curragh last month. On that showing, an extra furlong won’t do his chances any harm and, while jockey Colin Keane has yet to ride a winner on this side of the Irish Sea, he otherwise has a healthy (24%) strike rate overall for the Co. Meath trainer.
Mistiroc (50/1) picked a good time to record a career-best effort, over 1 mile 2 furlongs, at Ayr nine days ago and makes the long journey south from East Renfrewshire with just a 4lb penalty to carry. Jim Goldie’s 4-year-old won his maiden at Hamilton last August over 1 mile 1 furlong on good to soft going so, while he probably needs to improve again to win a race as competitive as this, he’s feasibly weighted and has conditions in his favour.
Fire Fighting (40/1) hasn’t cut much ice in Listed and Pattern company of late, but races off the same mark as when third of 16, beaten 1½ lengths, behind Mount Logan at Goodwood in July on his last attempt in a handicap. He appears to be Mark Johnston’s second string on jockey bookings but, of course, he doesn’t know that and a stiff 1 mile 1 furlong on rain-softened ground should play to his strengths.
Of course, there are plenty with chances but, after a near miss with 50/1 chance Poyle Vinnie in the Ayr Gold Cup last Saturday, our three against the field this week are, in order of preference, Brendan Brackan (50/1), Mistiroc (50/1) and Fire Fighting (40/1). Good luck!