Brigadier Gerard Stakes Betting

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Officials at Sandown Park in Esher, Surrey say they have the “best-kept secret in the U.K. racing calendar.” It is the Brigadier Gerard Evening held in late May or early June each year, and it features two of the highest quality evening events staged anywhere in the country—the £100,000 Group 2 Henry II Stakes and the £50,000 Group 3 Brigadier Gerard Stakes. Both are open to Thoroughbreds aged four years and older.

The Brigadier Gerard Stakes was inaugurated in 1953. It was originally known as the Coronation Stakes, commemorating the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. In 1973, the name of the event was changed to honour the recently-retired champion Brigadier Gerard, a racehorse that had won the Westbury Stakes and the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park as well as the classic 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.

The Brigadier Gerard Stakes covers a distance of one mile, two furlongs and seven yards over Sandown Park’s right-handed turf. All runners carry exactly nine stone, with an allowance of three pounds for fillies and mares. Penalties are applied to entries successful in races held since 31st August of the previous year, amounting to seven pounds for Group 1 winners, five pounds for Group 2 winners and three pounds for Group 3 winners.

In 2011, sponsorship of the Brigadier Gerard Stakes was transferred from Blue Square to Piper Heidsieck Champagne and the total prize purse decreased by £15,000 from its all-time high of £65,000 in 2010. Previous sponsors over the years have included Spillers, Credit Suisse First Boston and betfair.

The event boasts an impressive roll of honour of Thoroughbreds skilled over ten furlongs, including three that have succeeded here twice. Chamier was the first, winning back-to-back in 1954-55, and Tacitus matched that feat with consecutive victories in 1963-64. Then came Jellaby with a triumph in 1977 for rider Bryan Taylor and trainer Ryan Price. Two years later, Jellaby was back under different colors, winning in 1979 for Peter Walwyn with Pat Eddery in the saddle.

The top jockey in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes is none other than Lester Piggott. His six victories here put him well ahead of all other riders, beginning in 1958 with success aboard Arctic Explorer in 1958. He then followed up with wins atop Petite Etoile in 1961, Anne’s Pretender in 1976, Gregorian in 1980, Adonijah in 1984 and finally Commanche Run in 1985.

Two of Piggott’s mounts—Arctic Explorer and Petite Etoile—were schooled by Noel Murless as part of his stable of six winners. The other four were Busted in 1967, Royal Palace in 1968, Connaught in 1969 and Pembroke Castle in 1971. Tying that record number, trainer Sir Michael Stoute started in 1991-92 with Stagecraft and Opera House, followed by Pilsudski in 1996, Insatiable in 1998 and Notnowcato in 2006 before adding Workforce in 2011.

Four-year-olds have had the lion’s share of wins here during the past half century, but that doesn’t mean the more mature runners are totally left behind. Since the turn of the new millennium, two five-year-olds, two six-year-olds and one seven-year-old have met with success in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes. The latter, Stotsfold, paid 7/1 when beating six-year-old Tazeez by a neck in 2010.

Among favourites of the past dozen years, Workforce was the latest to succeed, paying evens in the most recent edition of the event. Before that the odds makers were correct on only two occasions, touting the Japanese entry Shiva at 7/2 in 2000 and Notnowcato at 5/4.

Winners at long odds are not at all uncommon in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes. In 2005, New Morning represented Ireland and paid handsomely at 12/1. Two years later, Take A Bow crossed the finish line first at 11/1 and then in 2008 another Irish entry, Smokey Oakey, delivered the best payday of all at 20/1 amid a field of fourteen starters.

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