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Blast From The Past: 2012 Cesarewitch

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We look back at the victory of the only dual winner of the long-standing Cesarewitch Handicap.

The Cesarewitch has often thrown up surprises and big-priced winners, and Scatter Dice became the second successive 66/1-shot to win the race when she took the 2013 renewal for Mark Johnston and Silvestre de Sousa. Scatter Dice had badly lost her form in the second half of 2013, but was on a potentially good mark based on some of her early-season exploits. That could hardly have been said about the 2012 winner Aaim To Prosper, however, who was shouldering top weight and a BHA mark of 107 on his first start back in a handicap since he had won the same race two years prior. His first win had come off a mark of just 87 and, though he had run respectably in defeat afterwards (second in a couple of listed races at Sandown), he was hardly arriving in top form, having turned in a lacklustre display in the listed Jockey Club Rose Bowl in late-September.

Add to that the fact that no horse in Cesarewitch’s 176-year history had ever won more than one renewal of the race, and Aaim To Prosper’s lofty SP begins to make plenty of sense in a race that contained its fair share of progressive and unexposed sorts. Favourite for the 2012 Cesarewitch was John Quinn’s Countrywide Flame, the winner of the 2012 Triumph Hurdle, who had had a tune-up for the Newmarket marathon when winning a two-mile Chester handicap 29 days earlier.

Countrywide Flame wasn’t quite able to get past Aaim To Prosper, but ran a big race (beaten only half a length in second) and forced a huge performance out of the winner, who led over three furlongs out and held on gamely in the final stages despite hanging left under jockey Kieren Fallon. Aaim To Prosper ran to a Timeform rating of 119 that day, the best in the race since the turn of the century, though he wouldn’t necessarily have been able to reproduce that if returned to pattern company, the demands of the Cesarewitch clearly bringing out the very best in him.

Aaim To Prosper didn’t race again on the Flat, but left Brian Meehan for a spell over hurdles with Paul Nicholls during the 2012/13 season, his best effort coming when winning a three-mile handicap at Doncaster from a BHA mark of 124 under Ruby Walsh. It took nearly two centuries for a dual Cesarewitch winner to emerge and, with no previous winners holding entries this year, it may be some time before we see another horse match Aaim To Prosper’s achievement.

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NAVAN 1:20

Sunday 17 December
7. DIAMOND CAUCHOIS (FR) 159
Davy Russell silk Davy Russell horse in focus
Gordon Elliott, Ireland
11. RACING PULSE (IRE) 158
D. J. Mullins silk D. J. Mullins
W. P. Mullins, Ireland hot trainer
8. DRUMACOO (IRE) 157+
Barry Geraghty silk Barry Geraghty
M. Hourigan, Ireland
NT
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