- Back Southern France to Win - 8/1 at Bet365
- Back Cliffs Of Dover Each-Way - 33/1 at Paddy Power (7 places)
Stratum and Southern France vye for favouritism at the head of the Cesarewitch 2018 odds, as Newmarket prepares for the annual 2m2f cavalry charge around the Rowley Mile course.
With £500,000 up for grabs and 34 runners gunning for glory, it's a paradise for punters, with the best value often in the each-way market.
Stratum finished third at Royal Ascot over 2m4f, and went on to win a 2m handicap at Newbury, putting himself at the head of both the Ebor and Cesarewitch markets. He had no luck in the Ebor over 1m6f and doesn't have a good draw in 18, but is no bigger than 13/2 with Unibet to win at Newmarket.
Southern France is by far the classiest horse in the line-up. The three-year-old was second in the Group 2 Queen's Vase at Royal Ascot and third in the Group 1 St Leger at Doncaster - both run over 1m6f.
For his ability, his rating of 107 may be generous, and of the favourites, he is definitely the best bet at 8/1 with Bet 365 - keeping in mind the fantastic record of three-year-olds in the event, and his slightly more preferable draw in box 24.
Is There A Trends Winner?
Discounting one winner with a handicap mark over 100, in the past 10 runnings of the Cesarewitch, the average winning official rating was 89, and the average rating for placed horses down to fourth was 94.
The winner rated over 100 was Aaim To Prosper, who had won two years previously off bottom weight. He was an exceptional horse over the distance, so for this column, we're going to rule all 100-rated horses out.
Draw is crucial; trends show stalls one to seven are best, middle boxes eight to 14 are not recommended, and 22-28 aren't bad. Three-year-olds punch above their weight, finishing in the first four 4/12 runners, and horses who finished worse than 7th last time out have not won.
Factoring in the poor record of horses carrying more than 8st 12lb, that leaves eight - Uber Cool, Royal Reserve, Vis A Vis, Law Girl, Theglasgowwarrior, Cliffs Of Dover, Golden Spear, and Its'afreebee.
Best Cesarewitch Bet:
Southern France is a standout, a horse who will probably never been seen out of Group company again, but trainer John Gosden has been working miracles all autumn and also sends a Group horse into this handicap: Precious Ramotswe.
She makes some appeal at 33/1 with William Hill, as does the Galway Festival winner Low Sun at 12/1 with Ladbrokes, but once again, it comes back to Southern France - and that top price of 8/1 with Bet365.
And, A Longshot. . .
Grade 2 hurdle winner Cliffs Of Dover has struck up a remarkable partnership with jockey Megan Nicholls this year, winning three 2m handicaps, and finishing sixth on unsuitable ground at Doncaster.
He ticks a lot of boxes; drawn in stall four, proven stayer, carrying no weight. Bookmakers Paddy Power are paying down to 7th position on the places in the Cesarewitch, so back Cliffs Of Dover at 33/1 with them, or perhaps take a chance on Cesarewitch Trial winner Stars Over The Sea at 20/1.
He carries a 4lb penalty for that win, but was raised double that for future handicaps, so is 4lbs well-in. Trainer Ian Williams's charge is in the form of his life and can't possibly finish out of the top seven, even with his big weight and less-than-ideal draw out in 27.