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Monday, 15 March 2021

Spanish Don


Generally speaking, it would be fair to say that bookmakers don’t make too many mistakes and, even in a race as competitive as the Cambridgeshire Handicap at Newmarket – the second leg of the traditional ‘Autumn Double’ – most horses that are sent off at 100/1 fully deserve to be that price. However, Spanish Don who, in 2004, became the joint-longest-priced winner of the aforementioned Cambridgeshire definitely didn’t.

Indeed, reflecting on the ‘unlikely’ victory of his six-year-old, winning trainer David Elsworth quipped, ‘I suppose it’s my popularity that made him 100-1.Even the muppets in the Racing Post said you couldn’t leave him out. It was a surprise he was 100-1. It wasn’t a surprise he won. I had a few quid on, but I’m a mug punter, aren’t I?’

In the preceding two seasons, Spanish Don had won four of his nine starts for Elsworth, after being transferred from Philip Mitchell in September, 2003 and, in so doing, risen 20lb in the weights. On his two starts immediately before the Cambridgeshire, the Zafonic gelding had again run well, off his revised mark of 95, when fifth of fifteen, beaten just two lengths, in a Class 2 handicap over 1 mile 2 furlongs at Goodwood and, after a short break, finishing ninth of eighteen, beaten 5¾ lengths, in a similar race at Newbury. Based on those performances, it could be argued that Spanish Don was, perhaps, a little high in the weights, but quite how that equated to a triple-figure starting price remains something of a mystery.


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