7th September 2018

What have they done to the Cesarewitch? I said immediately, when I saw the proposals to increase the value of the race, first to £500,000 and ultimately to £1,000,000, that this was doing nothing for the promotion of the staying horse, as they claimed, or for the Cesarewitch. I pointed out the obvious, that the race attracted a full field every year, that the lowest rated top weight in the last five years was 103, and that a massive increase in prize-money could not dramatically change the shape of the race or attract horses that would not have run anyway. I pointed out that it was no more than a publicity stunt at the expense of owners who are to be landed with exorbitant entry fees.

I did not know about a further rule change which has now resulted in last year’s winner, Withhold, being ineligible. The new rule says that entrants must have run at least twice since April on the flat at 1m4f or more. Why? What exactly are they trying to achieve?

A spokesman for Newmarket Racecourse said that the amendment was highlighted to trainers in a letter from Michael Prosser two weeks before entries closed and was published in the Racing Calendar. I was not aware of it until I read about it on the Racing Post website today. They also said that the fact that last year’s winner has been ruled out is, ‘no doubt an unintended consequence’. Well, that’s stating the obvious. But what I want to know is, what do they see as the intended, positive, consequences of these changes? What has it done to change the race for the better? And is someone going to stand up, soon, and say ‘we got it wrong, we shouldn’t have done it, and we are going to change it back’? Fat chance!

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