The town of Newmarket is the centre of British horse racing, with more trainers located here than anywhere else in the country. Newmarket racecourse itself is one of the most important flat venues in the UK, and is even referred to as HQ.
In late September, towards the end of the season, the Rowley Mile course at Newmarket hosts their Cambridgeshire Meeting.
The meeting runs for three days, Thursday to Saturday, with the title race of the Cambridgeshire Handicap taking place on Saturday. This Heritage Handicap is over one mile and one furlong and often boasts a bumper field of more than 30 runners.
There is plenty of quality across the meeting with Group races each day. These include the Tattersalls Stakes, the Rockfel Stakes, the Joel Stakes, the Cheveley Park Stakes and the Middle Park Stakes.
Day One: Thursday
|1:15||Rossdales EBF Stallions Maiden Stakes||Class 4||1m|
|1:50||Bentley Motors Nursery Handicap||Class 2||1m|
|2:25||British Stallion Studs EBF Premier Fillies' Handicap||Class 2||6f|
|3:00||Tattersalls Stakes||Group 3||7f|
|3:35||Jockey Club Rose Bowl Stakes||Listed||2m|
|4:10||Federation Of Bloodstock Agents Handicap||Class 2||1m4f|
|4:45||Bentley Motors Handicap||Class 3||1m|
|5:20||Newmarket Challenge Whip Handicap||Class 4||1m2f|
Thursday at the Cambridgeshire Meeting begins with some strong looking races for juveniles and includes the Group 3 Tattersalls Stakes which is a great chance for promising two year olds to earn a big win early in their careers. Punters also have a collection of handicaps to pick through, each providing some real betting value.
1:15 Rossdales EBF Stallions Maiden Stakes
Newmarket, Class 4, 1m
The opening race of the Cambridgeshire Meeting may look a little low grade at first but this is a contest which has been won by some excellent horses in recent years including Ghaiyyath in 2017. Time will tell how far the nine horses in the field for this year’s renewal of the Rossdales EBF Stallions Maiden Stakes will go but for there is a nice collection of well-bred debutantes and horses who have already shown some exciting signs to suggest that this should be an exciting contest.
Two of those with previous form to analyse – Albert Camus and Toromona – went up against each other on their debut. Although neither was good enough to seriously challenge Maximal that day at Sandown, they both showed enough to suggest they’ll come on for the run. Toromona won their head to head but there is every reason Albert Camus will be able to reverse the form. He had absolutely no luck in the race and still managed to pick himself up and finish strongly. His attitude on debut was taking and with that experience in the bank he is the one to back in the opener.
Albert Camus to win at 11/4
1:50 Bentley Motors Nursery Handicap
Newmarket, Class 2, 1m
We have another race for two year olds up next but those competing in the Bentley Motors Nursery Handicap have more experience than the field from the opener. The experience they all have is one reason why this is shaping to be such a competitive race with cases to be made for all five set to go to post.
The bookies have made Lost In Space the favourite which looks fair enough as he bounced back from a disappointing race at Doncaster to win two on the spin. Last Sunset, who may well have a future at pattern level, is sure to get a lot of support but the most appealing bet is Lightening Shore. Richard Hughes’ colt may not scale the heights but he showed a very game attitude when stepped up to a mile last time out and can take advantage of a generous mark on his handicap debut at odds of 11/2.
Lightening Shore to win at 11/2
2:25 British Stallion Studs EBF Premier Fillies' Handicap
Newmarket, Class 2, 6f
The weather can change very quickly at this time of year. Therefore so can the ground at racecourses all around the country. Connections of all of the horses running at Newmarket during the Cambridgeshire Meeting will be keeping a close eye on the weather forecast which doesn’t look great up to and during the meeting.
Connections of Quickstep Lady will be hopeful that the forecasted rain comes as she is bred to run well on soft ground. The three year old certainly showed an aptitude for running well on ground with some cut in it last time out when justifying her odds-on favouritism in a novices stakes. If the ground at Newmarket eases up nicely then she can take that form into her first of handicap racing and win at a tempting price of 9/2.
Quickstep Lady to win at 9/2
3:00 Tattersalls Stakes
Newmarket, Group 3, 7f
The Tattersalls Stakes is the highest calibre race of the opening day, at least by the grading. This Group 3 is often a target of some excellent juveniles even if just four of the last 10 renewals went the way of the favourite. Looking at the betting for this year’s renewal it seems likely that trend will be extended as La Barosa is a very firm favourite at odds on across the board.
That the Godolphin-owned colt is so strong in the betting after just one performance does seem a bit of an over exaggeration of his win on debut at Ascot. He looked great in the paddock before the race and picked up in running to win in good style having missed the break but he is coming up against much more experienced competitors this time around. The trouble is, none of his five opponents have really kicked on as connections would have hoped.
Yazaman is clearly talented but is a tricky sort and none of the varieties of head gear he’s worn have so far sorted out his trouble in running. Qaader has gone backwards after a good start to his career and hasn’t shown the stamina required for this seven furlong trip. Ventura Tormenta earned a very good win Group 2 win at Chantilly but didn’t follow that up in either of his next two starts. Dark Lion is another whose best form is some way away whilst Albadri ran at the level expected of him after causing a 100/1 shock on debut.
La Barrosa’s competition is not without talent but they are without recent form so the progressive favourite should be able to get the job done at 5/6.
La Barrosa to win at 5/6
3:35 Jockey Club Rose Bowl Stakes
Newmarket, Listed, 2m
The Rose Bowl Stakes is a classy Listed race for stayers. It takes place over two miles and it features a very interesting field in which Mildenberger is the 5/4 favourite, followed closely by Withhold at odds of 2/1. The former has been seen just once this summer where he finished a very good second place in the Group 3 Sagaro Stakes which had been switched to the all weather track at Newcastle for this year only. As strong as that form was, he looked as though he could have done with further than the 2m½f trip he got that day and may find the same is true on his return to turf.
That opens the door for the vastly experienced and generally reliable Withhold. Roger Charlton’s seven year old hasn’t always found his best stuff this season but he has never run a race without giving his all. His battling spirit was key to him winning a Listed race at Newmarket at the start of August. His next two starts were a little less impressive but he is much more comfortable at this sort of level and is the one to beat at a price of 2/1.
Withhold to win at 2/1
4:10 Federation Of Bloodstock Agents Handicap
Newmarket, Class 2, 1m4f
The bumper card at Newmarket continues with a decent looking handicap up next. The level of competition of the race will come down to how well Grand Bazaar is able to run. If the John Gosden-trained three year old is at the peaks of his powers he should be able to reward favourite backers at 6/5 but he didn’t find it easy running off a mark of 91 last time out and he’s not had his rating lowered after that race so by no means a solid favourite.
Ridgeway is another horse who needs to improve significantly from his last outing but that came in very different circumstances to Grand Bazaar. He bombed out when second favourite for a novices’ race at Bath. Whilst that was clearly disappointing for connections, they are happy enough to find an excuse for it and give him a chance in a handicap for the first time. The handicapper has him at 84 which may prove to be underplaying Ridgway’s ability. If preparations are better this time around he could claim this at odds of 10/3.
Ridgeway to win at 10/3
4:45 Bentley Motors Handicap
Newmarket, Class 2, 6f
It is a different story for the next handicap on the card with First Winter looking a worthy favourite for the Bentley Motors Handicap at a short price of 11/10. Charlie Appleby’s three year old was progressive on good and firm ground throughout the summer but looked like a true son of Dubawi when winning on good to soft last time out over a mile at Sandown. Connections won’t, therefore, be concerned if the rain is heavy or if it largely stays away over Newmarket as the versatile First Winter should be able to win either way.
First Winter to win at 11/10
5:20 Newmarket Challenge Whip Handicap
Newmarket, Class 4, 1m2f
We end with another handicap, this one looking a tad more competitive than the race which precedes it. There are only five runners which will mean that those who have had a bit of bad luck recently won’t be able to use traffic as an excuse. Voice Of Calm is one of those who has had a few problems in running of late but her inability to contend last time out had more to do with a change in tactics than anything.
She finished strongly that day at Sandown but was produced too late to make an impact whereas she usually likes to run closer to the pace. The small field at Newmarket should help in that regard as she will naturally be forced closer to the action early on. That should be a help and could see her return to winning ways at 13/2.
Voice Of Calm each way at 13/2
Day Two: Friday
|1:15||Derrinstown Irish EBF Maiden Stakes||Class 4||7f|
|1:50||Bentley Motors Nursery Handicap||Class 2||1m|
|2:25||Princess Royal Muhaarar Stakes||Group 3||1m4f|
|3:00||Shadwell Rockfel Stakes||Group 2||7f|
|3:35||Shadwell Joel Stakes||Group 1||1m|
|4:10||Federation Of Bloodstock Agents Handicap||Class 2||1m4f|
|4:45||Shadwell Farm Handicap||Class 3||1m1f|
The second day of the Cambridgeshire Meeting includes some very interesting races. These range from the opening maiden featuring some potentially smart colts to the Group 3 Princess Royal Muhaarar Stakes and the Group 2 Shadwell Rockfel Stakes, both of which involve small but select fields. Add some tricky looking handicaps into the mix and you have a day of racing that should provide some surprises and definitely involves some great opportunities for punters to profit.
1:15 Derrinstown Irish EBF Maiden Stakes
Newmarket, Class 4, 7f
The second day of the Cambridgeshire Meeting begins with a very competitive looking maiden for two-year-olds. The race features a nice blend of debutantes and horses who should improve from their first outing. Roscioli is in the second camp and Andrew Balding will be more than a little hopeful that his colt can come on for a battling display at the end of August where he was third to the potentially smart Huddleton Mac and The Kodi Kid who was a winning favourite next time out.
Balding-trained two-year-olds have a habit of making a serious step forward from their first start to their second but the same is true of Richard Hannon’s yard so Beijing Billy will take some shaking off. Other horses to watch include Military Man on debut for Roger Varian and Love Of Zoffany who could be very good next year given some time to fill into his frame.
Roscioli to win
1:50 Tasleet British EBF Rosemary Stakes
Newmarket, Listed, 1m
A Listed race for horses three and older follows the opener and we have a couple of well fancied options in the betting. Ummalanar is the narrow favourite at a general price of 4/1 but it is tough to get too excited about her chances on her first start of the season. William Haggas will ensure that his lightly raced five-year-old is as well prepared as possible and 1m is her ideal trip but she didn’t run well first up last year and you’d have to be very confident about backing her to do something different on Friday.
Cloak Of Spirits and Bizzi Lizzi will both also get a fair amount of support in the betting for good reason but it’s Bounce The Blues who gets the nod at nice looking odds of 5/1. The three-year-old showed enough promise in the early stages of her career to tempt a new owner to make an offer and she made a very nice debut for them and her new trainer, Andrew Balding, last time out at Doncaster. She finished strongly to make up for a less than ideal start and with further improvement expected, 5/1 looks a very tempting price.
Bounce The Blues to win at 5/1
2:25 Princess Royal Muhaarar Stakes
Newmarket, Group 3, 1m4f
There is a step up in class next on the card and we have a fascinating renewal of the Princess Royal Muhaarar Stakes to enjoy here. The field for this Group 3 is both competitive and difficult to predict which makes this a tough but potentially lucrative puzzle for punters to work out.
Alpinista, a distant second to the brilliant Love in the Yorkshire Oaks, is the bookies’ favourite at 9/4. She did well to earn second place at York but the price looks a little skinny. The same can be said of the 5/2 available about Katara for all that she should go on to become a very good middle to long distance filly.
Antonia De Vega has real quality but has been unpredictable so far whilst Franconia bombed out in the Yorkshire Oaks and made hard work of a Listed race when sent off at 1/3 so might just be going in the wrong direction. It really is an open race but we fancy the wisest option may be an each way play at a bigger price.
Whilst any of the fillies already mentioned could well go on to win, to our eyes none provide the value that Sea Of Faith does at 11/1. The four-year-old made a pleasing return to action this season when running fourth in the Galtres Stakes and then built on that platform to win a good Listed race at Saint-Cloud last weekend. Connections are right to try and strike whilst the iron is hot and Sea Of Faith has every chance of going in again for William Haggas with the excellent and very much in-form Tom Marquand on board.
Sea Of Faith each way at 11/1
3:00 Shadwell Rockfel Stakes
Newmarket, Group 2, 7f
Next up we have one of the best contests of the day and the Rockfel Stakes provides another very interesting Group level contest for fillies, although this Group 2 is restricted to two-year-olds. Unlike the previous race though, we do look to have the right favourite in Monday who should be victorious for Aidan O’Brien and Ballydoyle as she heads over the Irish Sea for the first time.
As is often the case with O’Brien’s horses, Monday improved considerably for her first run, arguably more than even her trainer believed was possible, as she held her better fancied stablemate, No Speak Alexander, in a Listed race at Leopardstown. The fact that she was entered in a Listed race after finishing fourth on debut should have been a hint but savvy punters were still able to get very tidy double-digit odds of 12/1 as the market seemingly missed her.
Monday’s competition is of high promise all the way down to Alba Rose at the bottom of the market who has shown that she could be a stayer to watch next season. The ground would have to get a lot softer for either Isabella Giles or Santosha to really challenge though and Nazuna requires a big step up from winning a nursery last time out. It won’t be easy but expect Monday to win at 6/4.
Monday to win at 6/4
3:35 Shadwell Joel Stakes
Newmarket, Group 2, 1m
And so we arrive at the feature contest of the day with some top class horses on show. One of the big questions that racing fans have been asking themselves in recent weeks and months is whether or not Kameko will be able to win another Group 1 this season.
The 2,000 Guineas winner has finished no better than fourth since his taking success at Newmarket and some are beginning to have their doubts about just how strong that Classic was given how early it came in this curtailed Flat season. Kameko’s fans, however, point out that he has had ample excuses in each of his last three starts and with just a bit more luck in running his form coming into the Joel Stakes could easily be much better than it is.
Of course, this is not a Group 1 race but it does look a very strong Group 2 with Benbatl (2/1), Top Rank (11/2) and Tilsit (6/1) providing the main danger. Kameko remains an excellent racehorse over this distance though and is surely tough to ignore at a best price of 11/4.
Kameko to win at 11/4
4:10 Eqtidaar Godolphin Stakes
Newmarket, Listed, 1m4f
The penultimate race at Newmarket could well come down to a pair of Godolphin geldings - Loxley and Walton Street. The former is making his return to Britain having been last seen in Meydan earlier this year. His time in Dubai was initially frustrating with a couple of sub-par performances before he was able to take advantage of a slowly run race to win a fairly weak Group 2. If Loxley is able to improve for that run he will be a factor but preference goes to his stablemate who made a very pleasing return to action after over 400 days away from the track last time out.
That run for Walton Street came in a competitive, small field conditions race at Lingfield and saw him narrowly beaten by another Godolphin-owned horse, Desert Fire. As good as that run was, he should be even better this time around and is more than capable of winning a Listed race over a mile and a half.
Walton Street to win at 4/1
4:45 Shadwell Farm Handicap
Newmarket, Class 3, 1m1f
One of the skills of managing a racehorse is finding the right opportunities for them to be successful. That has been a challenge so far for Kaizen Racing since buying Kattani in July but they may well have found the perfect race for him in the Shadwell Farm Handicap.
After a horrible debut for his new connections, Kattani improved significantly for the fitting of a tongue tie at Windsor where he finished clear of the field bar one and it was more of the same next time out at Newbury. The handicapper has kept the Michael Appleby-trained four-year-old off the same mark of 82 that he ran well at last time out so he’ll have no excuses if he doesn’t win this 1m1f contest at 9/2.
Kattani to win at 9/2
Day Three: Saturday
|1:15||Blanford Bloodstock Fillies' Maiden Stakes||Class 4||7f|
|1:50||Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes||Group 2||1m|
|2:25||Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes||Group 1||6f|
|3:00||Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes||Group 1||6f|
|3:35||Cambridgeshire Handicap||Class 2||1m1f|
|4:10||EBF "Jersey Lily" Fillies' Nursery Handicap||Class 2||7f|
|4:40||Bentley Motors Handicap||Class 2||7f|
The quality of the racing has increased day on day at the Cambridgeshire Meeting and we have some truly excellent races to enjoy on Saturday as things come to the boil very nicely. The main attraction is the Cambridgeshire itself which has a different feel to it this year having been won by progressive three-year-olds over the last two renewals.
Then there is the trio of Group level races for two-year-olds which could just give birth to a superstar. Some competitive handicaps make up the rest of the card and a cracking day of racing and we have gone through them all to pick out the best bets for you below.
1:15 Blandford Bloodstock Maiden Fillies' Stakes
Newmarket, Class 4, 7f
Saturday’s racing at Newmarket begins with a fillies’ maiden. This looks a good chance for Conservatoire to get off the mark after a fairly horrible start to her racing career. The Cheveley Park Stud-owned filly was subject to a serious gamble on debut at Yarmouth but her chances of rewarding her backers were over before the halfway point after a start that was almost too bad to be true. The way that she belatedly picked up will be no consolation for those who backed her that day but she retains a lot of potential and may well get it right this time around.
Conservatoire each way at 7/1
1:50 Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes
Newmarket, Group 2, 1m
The Royal Lodge Stakes may be one rung below the two races for two-year-olds which it precedes but this 1m contest is very much a race to keep your eye on. Among the famous graduates from the Royal Lodge is Frankel who won this at Newmarket 10 years ago before going on to have such an incredible career and connections of the five horses in the field will be dreaming of having just half of his success.
In truth, there is only one of these who has shown the sort of form so far to suggest that he will be able to reach the top as a three-year-old. Cobh has steadily built upon each run of his career, particularly relishing the step up to 1m last time out. He won a Listed race at Salisbury last time out in the manner of a horse who is capable of winning a Group level contest and the Royal Lodge favourite should do just that at odds we believe are more than fair (5/2).
Cobh to win at 5/2
2:25 Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes
Newmarket, Group 1, 6g
The Cheveley Park Stakes has long been used as something of a trial for the following season’s 1,000 Guineas. The calibre of horses competing in this year’s renewal is such that a number of them will surely be back at Newmarket next year for a crack at the first fillies’ Classic of the season.
The recent record of this race includes several winning favourites but also a number of betting upsets including Millisle, who won at 16/1 last year and Brave Anna who went in at the even longer price of 25/1 in 2016. We could well see something similar this time around as Alcohol Free is very well priced at 10/1.
Oisin Murphy is back on board this impressive Andrew Balding-trained filly having ridden her to a very good win on debut. She was perhaps lacking in a bit of cover next time out but still emerged from the Dick Poole Stakes with some valuable experience against Group level opposition and should be stronger for that run.
That said, there is a lot to like from each of those towards the top of the betting. Dandalla is unbeaten in three starts, Miss Amulet won a strong renewal of the Lowther Stakes, Happy Romance beat Alcohol Free when they met at Salisbury last time out and Sacred has repeatedly run very well against quality opposition. None of them quite offer the same value in the betting as Alcohol Free though and at the prices she is just about the one for us here.
Alcohol Free each way at 10/1
3:00 Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes
Newmarket, Group 2, 7f
The Middle Park Stakes has been used by 2,000 Guineas contenders over the years as a chance to test themselves in Group 1 company but many of its most recent graduates have found their best success over the sprint trips. That could well be what the future has in store for this year’s bookies’ favourite, Minzaal. His trainer, Owen Burrows, has suggested as much claiming that he is much more likely to be aimed at the Commonwealth Cup than the 2,000 Guineas next season.
Burrows is not the only person to be very impressed with Minzaal’s speed. Jim Crowley admitted that he was surprised by just how well Minzaal travelled in the Gimcrack Stakes at York before being blown away by the turn of pace he showed to beat some highly promising horses. The likes of Lucky Vega and Supremacy may go on to make headlines in the biggest races next season but Minzaal is the out and out speed angle of the Middle Park Stakes and should get the job done at a nice enough price of 11/4.
Minzaal to win at 11/4
3:35 Cambridgeshire Handicap
Newmarket, Class 2, 1m1f
The Cambridgeshire Handicap is the feature race of the entire meeting and sees the attention turn from two-year-olds to more experienced horses. Recent winners have ranged from between three and five whilst the starting price of the last 10 winners goes from 9/2 for last year’s winner Lord North to the 50/1 that Dolphin Vista was sent off at.
With so many going to post and a history of winners at big prices, backing just one horse to win the Cambridgeshire is a brave move. As such, we favour having a couple of each way options to broaden our chances of winning.
The first horse to consider in that regard is Celtic Art at the frankly huge odds of 33/1. He was last seen when disappointing in the Ladbrokes March Stakes at Goodwood. Although connections hope that he could be more than a handicapper, he has work to do to justify that belief. That work may well begin at Newmarket where he has every chance of outrunning his odds. Another who appears overpriced is Anythingtoday who just appeared to turn a corner last time out and should be up to running a big race off a mark of 92 at the same tasty odds of 33/1.
Celtic Art each way at 33/1, Anythingtoday each way at 33/1
4:10 British Stallion Studs EBF "Jersey Lily" Fillies' Nursery Handicap
Newmarket, Class 2, 7f
We have a nursery handicap up next with a few in the field who excite making their debut in this sort of race. Iconic Queen, who has improved for every race so far, certainly makes a lot of appeal in her first nursery. You could argue that the handicapper hasn’t been overly generous with her mark of 81 but the way she picked up and kept to her task when asked last time out suggests she will be difficult to shake off should she get a decent pace to aim at. Another option is the experienced Domrquinna who just missed out by a nose in her first nursery last time out and remains well treated off a mark of 79.
Iconic Queen each way at 11/1
4:40 Bentley Motors Handicap
Newmarket, Class 2, 7f
The final race of the day and indeed the meeting is this low key seven furlong affair and the in form Documenting will get much of the attention from punters as he goes to complete the hat-trick in the Bentley Motors Handicap. Kevin Frost’s seven-year-old had to work very hard to win the Porsche Handicap last time having been raised 8lb for his previous win and may just be able to cope with another 4lb penalty. Away from the top-weighted horse and Tomfre should put his poor run at Ascot firmly in the rear view mirror and is well worth considering for an each way punt.
Documenting to win at 7/2
A Complete History of the Cambridgeshire Meeting at Newmarket
It is hard to dispute that the Cambridgeshire Meeting is up there as one of the most cherished meetings of the flat season. Both on and off the track, Newmarket, flat racing HQ, always puts on quite the show, treating hopeful punters to a high class offering throughout. Focussing on the track, all the action takes place on the Rowley Mile and features some fantastic contests such as the ultra-competitive Cambridgeshire Handicap, after which the whole three-day extravaganza takes its name.
Compared to some of the meetings hosted at Newmarket, the Cambridgeshire Meeting is a relatively new one. By 1840, the Suffolk course had seven annual meetings, several of which were a full week long. None of these can really be seen as the origin of what we know today as the Cambridgeshire Meeting though. Despite this, we are still able to examine the history of the major races that compromise this autumnal three-day racing event.
1839 – Cambridgeshire Handicap begins
One of the stars of the Cambridgeshire Meeting, the Cambridgeshire Handicap, makes its first ever appearance in 1839. Its debut came during the same year as the Cesarewitch Handicap with the pair of races dubbed the Autumn Double, scheduled just two weeks apart. Unlike the situation today though, the Cambridgeshire Handicap was initially the last race to feature, only later did organisers reverse the order.
1886 – Middle Park Stakes established
William Blenkiron creates the Middles Park Stakes, naming the race after his stud at Eltham. The inaugural running was won by a horse by the name of The Rake. Dating back this long, it is one of the most long-standing events that forms part of today’s Cambridgeshire Meeting.
1885 – Plaisanterie lands handicap double
The French-trained Plaisanterie becomes the last horse to complete the Cesarewitch – Cambridgeshire Handicap double. Having won the former, the then three-year-old was handed a huge 14-pound penalty during the Cambridgeshire a fortnight later. Due to the added weight, Plaisanterie set off at odds of 10/1 but won with some ease despite the handicap. No horse has managed to win both events since, although few have attempted to do so, especially in more recent times.
1899 – Cheveley Park Stakes introduced
Keen racehorse owner Harry McCalmont purchased the Cheveley Park estate in 1892. Seven years later, a race by the same name featured at Newmarket with the inaugural renewal won by a horse named Lutetia.
1966 – Sun Chariot Stakes makes first appearance
Spectators at Newmarket witness the first running of the Sun Chariot Stakes, a race named after the 1942 Fillies’ Triple Crown winner. Incidentally, each Triple Crown event that year took place at Newmarket due to World War II.
1987 – Oh So Sharp & Joel Stakes established
The Oh So Sharp Stakes becomes a new addition to the Cambridgeshire Meeting, named after the Newmarket-trained 1985 Fillies’ Triple Crown winner. It began as an ungraded affair but enjoyed a boost to listed status in 1993.
Also joining the Oh So Sharp Stakes is the Joel Stakes, originally known as the Main Reef Stakes. Main Reef was a successful horse bred and owned by Jim Joel but following Joel’s death in 1992, the race name changed in 1994 to honour him.
1999 – July Course steps in
The entire Cambridgeshire Meeting traditionally takes place on the Rowley Mile but this was not a possibility in 1999. Due to the construction of the Millennium Grandstand on the Rowley Mile, all of Newmarket’s racing that year took place on the July Course. This explains why winning times for this year across the Cambridgeshire festival were considerably slower than usual. The Cambridgeshire Handicap for instance was around 17 seconds slower than the two renewals either side of it.
2003 – Three Valleys stripped of title
As expected, Three Valleys got himself first past the line in the 2003 renewal of the Middle Park Stakes. A few months later however, news broke that the star juvenile was disqualified after testing positive for a substance called clenbuterol, often known as Ventipulmin.
This substance, while allowed for clearing up lung infections, was still present in the horse’s system. Roger Charlton disputed any wrongdoing and said that he had stopped giving the horse treatment nine days (rather than the recommended six and a half) before the race. None the less, this was one of the most high-profile cases since routine testing began and ultimately the handler accepted the £600 fine.
2004 – Spanish surprise
Spanish Don lands the biggest Cambridgeshire Handicap upset of the modern era. The unfancied 100/1 outsider put in a valiant display with Liam Keniry on the saddle to win the contest by a neck’s length. For a horse that had won four of his previous 10 races, a triple digit price was a generous one but most at the time failed to recognise the value for money. Trainer David Elsworth joked that it was his own popularity that saw Spanish Don trading at such a price.
2004 – Sun Chariot joins the elite
Four years after being cut in distance, down to one mile, the Sun Chariot Stakes enjoys promotion to Group 1 status. Since then the race has witnessed a number of top class winners such as Attraction and Halfway to Heaven, with the winner of the 2018 1,000 Guineas, Billesdon Brook, being victorious here in 2019.
2008 – Pride Stakes moves to Newmarket
The Group 3 Pride Stakes is transferred from Ascot to Newmarket. It remained at Newmarket for three years before returning to Ascot to become the British Champions Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes. Moving in the other direction was the Princess Royal Stakes, which took the vacant spot the Pride Stakes left behind at Newmarket.
2011 – Royal Lodge & Fillies Mile rehoused
Frankel scooped his first major victory in the Royal Lodge Stakes in 2010, paving the way for a series of other first-class titles. The race had historically taken place at Ascot but in 2011 it permanently relocated to Newmarket. What a fine acquisition it was too, as the one mile race has been part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series since.
The same year, Newmarket also welcomes the Fillies’ Mile, by this time a highly valued contest boasting Group 1 status. Taking place on the second day of the three-day meet, the first permanent running at its new home was won by Lyric of Light. To make room for these two new additions, the Cambridge Meeting waved goodbye to the Middle Park Stakes.
2011 – Joel Stakes upgraded again
When first established, the Joel Stakes only held listed status but it enjoyed promotion to Group 3 in 2003. Eight years later, it became one of three pattern races upgraded by the BHA, the Sceptre Stakes and Hampton Court Stakes being the other two. As a result, the Cambridgeshire Meeting gained itself another Group 2 contest.
2011 – Sahpresa makes it a hat-trick
It is rare to see a horse win three consecutive times at the Cambridgeshire Meeting but this is exactly what Sahpresa managed in 2011. Having won the Sun Chariot Stakes the previous two years the American-bred and French-trained horse gave it one more crack. By securing gold yet again, Sahpresa became the first ever (and at the time of writing, only) three-time Sun Chariot champion.
2014 – Major races removed from schedule
Organisers at Newmarket opt to move the Oh So Sharp Stakes, now a Group 3 event, to a fixture in October. The following year it is pushed back another week further to become part of the Future Champions Festival. Also departing the Cambridgeshire Meeting is the Sun Chariot Stakes, a considerable loss given its Group 1 status.
The biggest loss from the schedule however is the Fillies’ Mile, also moved to Future Champions Day. To help soften the blow, the Rockfel Stakes, a leading race for two-year-old fillies, took its place. Lucida, trained by Kevin Manning won the first September running of the contest.
2017 – Princess Royal Stakes upgraded
Six years after the Princess Royal Stakes first appeared at Newmarket the race received a promotion, going from Listed level to Group 3. It proved to be a memorable renewal for Chain of Daisies who become the first two-time winner of the event, which had been established in 1998.