6th April 2018
Can you imagine a horse too good to run in a £1 million race? I know it sounds ridiculous, it is ridiculous, but that will be the case when Jockey Club Racecourses introduces its £1 million Cesarewitch from 2020. Horses rated more than 110 will not be eligible to run.
What, exactly, is the objective? There is a lot of talk about promoting staying races and owners keeping horses in training for longer but the Cesarewitch fills every year. So they aren’t going to get more runners. And they aren’t going to improve the quality by much as the lowest rated top-weight in the last five years is 103.
£750,000 for a maximum increase in class of 7lbs doesn’t seem like a very good idea to me. But, of course, it isn’t going to cost Jockey Club Racecourses £750,000 and it isn’t going to bring £750,000 of new money into the sport. Along with the rise in prize-money comes a hike in entry fees from 0.5% to 1.25% and they haven’t told us yet how they are going to structure those entry fees. If they are true to form there will be early stages meaning that, while the 36 runners pay £12,500 each (that’s £450,000 of the pot), there might be many more who paid a lesser amount at an early stage.
I hope this isn’t another con like the sales races and the Wetherbys Super Sprint, where owners are putting up the vast majority of the money, but I fear that it might be.
It strikes me that the announcement has come now to try and steal some of the thunder from York’s £1 million Ebor but that race will be a very different kettle of fish. For a start the entry fees remain at 0.5% as they should. There will be no cap on the quality of horse and every chance that this can turn into a Melbourne Cup-style race with horses coming from around the globe. There is still the issue of it being a handicap and the question of whether horses, racing for such a prize, should have to give weight to others but even the current Ebor is such a high class race that the weight band is narrow. Some similarly structured races in the USA and the Melbourne Cup itself have Group 1 status.
That the winner of the Ebor gets no ‘Black Type’ at all, while a horse trailing in third in a Listed race does, is also more than a little ridiculous but that is no fault of the Ebor or York racecourse – it is the ‘Black Type’ system that is flawed.
So, as you can see, I am a great supporter of the £1 million Ebor and I am not impressed by the cheap imitation Cesarewitch. And, by the way, before those idiots with the lottery mentality start bleating about big value handicaps giving small owners and trainers a chance of winning a big prize, just remember which trainer has won the Cesarewitch more than any other in, at least, the last thirty years. Only two trainers have won more and they were both in the 19th century. Sadly, I might not be winning it again if they turn it into a rip-off race that extracts entry fees from owners for the gratification of the racecourse.