Harry & Roger Charlton's Greek Order could land a mighty gamble in the bet365 Cambridgeshire at Newmarket on Saturday, evoking memories of some great renewals.
I haven’t been able to move for nostalgia the last few days. It all started when the wife came back from the Take That ‘Greatest Days’ musical and started blasting out Pray, Babe and Never Forget around the house on a seemingly never-ending loop. The kids discovered the joys of F-Zero on the Nintendo Switch (it’s a new version, Dad). Then a McDonalds advert harking back to the days of Ceefax hit the screens.
Nostalgia is in vogue and it got me thinking about my formative years as a punter, also known as the mid-to-late 90s, as I made the transition from sixth form to university student, fuelled by Castlemaine XXXX. That’s where it all started, trying to solve the big Saturday handicap. And when I think of big Saturday handicaps, I think of the Cambridgeshire.
There was always something about watching almost 40 horses charging down the Rowley Mile that got the blood pumping. The size of the field, the autumn sun, the chance of catching a big fish at juicy odds. Yet despite that, the Cambridgeshires I remember are the ones where there was a public punt on one horse that went off at what seemed quite ridiculous (relatively) short odds given the nature of the race.
Halling was just before my time, but Pasternak was right in the sweet spot and that gamble on the Sir Mark Prescott-trained horse, who went off 4/1 from prices as big as 11/1 in the morning, was the catalyst for an annual obsession. He was probably to blame for (my) misguided money on the same stable’s Pedrillo seven years later, too, the son of Singspiel trailing in 22nd having been sent off at a remarkable 7/2.
But that’s the great thing about the Cambridgeshire. For every Pasternak there’s a Pedrillo, for every Pipedreamer there’s a Portage. And while there was a period where the public punt horse in the Cambridgeshire became a rare breed, they are back; Lord North, who landed the money when going off 9/2 for Frankie Dettori and John Gosden in 2019, reinvigorating the beast.
In 2020 we had Tempus go off at 9/2 for Roger Charlton and Juddmonte, but he could only finish sixth. In 2021 we had Anmaat, subsequent Group 1 winner Anmaat, go off at 11/2 for Owen Burrows and Shadwell, but he was beaten into second. And then last year Shadwell were at it again with Mujtaba, trained by William Haggas. He went off 5/1 but could only finish eighth, before making amends in style next time out when winning a Newbury handicap by just the seven lengths.
It seems like the race is working towards another Pasternak, Pipedreamer or Lord North and perhaps this is the year, with another public (antepost) punt horse lining up in this Saturday’s Cambridgeshire, Greek Order. Trained by Harry and Roger Charlton, for Juddmonte, he is already generally 4/1 before the final decs and has the potential to go off a shorter price than any of the aforementioned, even the hapless Pedrillo.
While Charlton has recently come unstuck with a Cambridgeshire favourite after Tempus couldn’t land the money three years ago, he does have some positive previous with a public punt horse in this race thanks to Blue Monday in 2005. He went off 5/1 and won easily, the lightly-raced four-year-old making a mockery of his mark of 99 before winning two Group 3s the following season (while also finishing third in both the Coral-Eclipse and Juddmonte International).
Greek Order wouldn’t have the same profile being a year-younger three-year-old. He is more like a Pipedreamer or a Lord North in that respect, a lightly-raced member of the Classic generation who is seriously on the upgrade. The son of Kingman hosed up in a Newbury handicap off a mark of 85 last time and, while the handicapper didn’t exactly miss him raising him 10lb, he does have pretensions to be group class.
Look at the way he moves up in the Newbury contest after being keen enough in the early stages, his three-month break and steady gallop combining to exaggerate the freshness, and then the way he quickens to put the race to bed in a flash. It’s not hard to envisage a strongly-run nine furlongs suiting this horse and to give a bit of substance to match the style, the horse in second, Maximilian Caesar, has subsequently won a Doncaster handicap off his same mark (89) at the Leger meeting.
He could be lobbed in alright, even off his revised mark, the full-brother to Group 3 winner Sangarius seemingly peaking at just the right time with a Cambridgeshire tilt in mind.
As for my position with him on Saturday, I’ll probably take him on. He’s just gone a bit too short hasn’t he? Perhaps it’s the memories of Pedrillo, for all that this Greek Order could be another Pasternak, another Pipedreamer, another public punt horse that lands the money in one of the greatest days of any Flat season.
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