Timeform assess the Cambridgeshire Handicap favourite and give their verdict for Saturday's race at Newmarket.
Cambridgeshire Handicap - 15:35 Newmarket
Focus on the favourite
The Cambridgeshire has delivered some great betting stories down the years, with notable gambles landed on the likes of Pipedreamer, Lord North and, most memorably of all, Pasternak, who was sent off 4/1 having been available at double-figure odds on the morning of the race in 1997.
It would be little surprise this year were Tempus to go off at shorter than the 6/1 currently available about him for this 29-runner handicap. He is bred to be smart – out of Group 1 winner Passage of Time and a half-brother to the high-class Time Test – and he has a created a very favourable impression during his burgeoning career, winning four of his six starts, including both this season.
He was handed the race in the Stewards’ room on his return at Newbury last month, but he would have been an unlucky loser as he was hampered and forced to switch before running on strongly and only narrowly failing to overhaul the first past the post. That was a highly encouraging comeback and he built on it when following up in a mile handicap at Ascot three weeks ago, scoring by a comfortable length and a half.
He must carry a 5 lb penalty for that success but still looks well treated off a mark of 98 and, given his progressive profile, it would be little surprise were he to take another big step forward here. This is the stiffest test of stamina he has faced – he is unraced beyond an extended mile – but the trip promises to suit based on run style and pedigree.
An outsider to consider
Good Birthday (25/1)
Good Birthday has not won this season and has put in a couple of disappointing efforts, but it's worth noting that he finished third in last year's Cambridgeshire off an 8 lb higher mark. He shaped well on that occasion, too, having to weave his way through after waiting for the gaps.
Good Birthday is perhaps not the most straightforward – there have been a couple of occasions when it looked as though he might not be putting it all in – but he certainly has the talent to make an impact from this mark of 90, whilst he proved last year that he is well suited by a strongly-run nine furlongs. He did enough at Newbury last time to suggest that he was in decent form, getting going too late having been held up, and he is not one to readily dismiss.
A stat to note
John Gosden has won the Cambridgeshire five times
No trainer has won the Cambridgeshire more often than John Gosden, whose tally of five includes the last two winners, Wissahickon and Lord North. Four of Gosden's five winners – including Wissahickon and Lord North – were three-year-olds, and he is represented by another member from the classic generation this time in Al Rufaa. A €230,000 purchase as a yearling, Al Rufaa has developed into a useful performer this season and completed a hat-trick of handicap wins at Newmarket last month, making light work of his opponents. However, he needs to bounce back from a disappointing effort in a minor event at Haydock last time, when he dropped away to finish last of four after taking a strong hold in a race run on heavy ground. The return to a sounder surface could suit Al Rufaa, while the bigger field will enable Frankie Dettori to get some cover and make it easier to settle his strong-travelling mount. He could go well if improving for the step up in trip (has raced only at seven furlongs).
A case can be made for plenty of these but the two with the most appealing claims are Khalid Abdullah’s pair, Derevo and Tempus. Derevo tops Timeform’s weight-adjusted ratings having posted a career-best effort in defeat at Doncaster recently. He caught the eye with how powerfully he moved through that mile-and-a-quarter contest, so he should prove well suited by this drop back in trip and looks well handicapped off the same mark. Derevo should give a good account, but it’s difficult to overlook the potential of Tempus, who has made good strides this season and looks the type to carry on improving for a while yet. He always looked in control at Ascot last time and this step up in trip can unlock further progress.
Timeform weight-adjusted ratings:
- 129 Derevo
- 127 Montatham
- 127p Sinjaari
- 126p Tempus
- 125 Walhaan
- 125 Balgair
- 125p Ilaraab