Jockey Club Stakes Betting

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Bookmakers and punters alike know the flat racing season has shifted into high gear when the annual Jockey Club Stakes are held in late April or early May. This exciting Class 1, Group 2 flat horse race is open to Thoroughbreds of age four years and upwards. It covers a distance of one mile and four furlongs on the right-handed turf of the famous Rowey Mile “L” at Newmarket Racecourse.

Newmarket, of course, is the historic “Home of Horseracing.” England’s first recorded race took place here in 1622. A steed belonging to the Marquis of Buckingham beat Lord Salisbury’s horse in a match race for a prize worth £100, and soon races became a regular feature. While in residence at Newmarket, Charles II established the written rules for British horse racing and the original Jockey Club was formed here in 1665.

The inaugural running of the Jockey Club Stakes was held in 1894 for three year olds and up. It was won by the indomitable stallion Isinglass (1890–1911), who dominated British racing during his time and won the English Triple crown. The distance back then was a mile and a quarter, which was increased to a mile and three quarters in 1901. The minimum age was raised in 1963—the same year in which the current distance was settled upon.

Runners in the Jockey Club Stakes carry eight stone twelve pounds, with allowances of three pounds for fillies and mares. Penalties are also applied to horses finishing first in meetings of one mile or over since August 31 of the previous year, amounting to five pounds for Group 1 winners and three pounds for Group 2 winners.

In the long history of the race, only one horse has ever managed to win it twice. That feat was accomplished by the mighty bay Phardante, ridden by Greville Starkey in 1986-87. Among jockeys, several accomplished the back-to-back double here, including Willie Carson riding Almaarad in 1988 and Unfuwain in 1989 as well as John Reid aboard Time Allowed and Romanov in 1997 and 1998, respectively.

Frankie Dettori and Pat Eddery gained three victories apiece here between 1990 and 2007, while Kieren Fallon posted two. However, the greatest pilot in the history of the Jockey Club Stakes has to be the legendary Lester Piggott, with seven wins spanning 32 years. Those included rides on Holmbush in 1950, Nucleus in 1955, Court Prince in 1959, St. Paddy in 1961, Knockroe in 1972, Relay Race in 1974, and Ardross in 1982.

Today the total prize pool for the Jockey Club Stakes is a neat £100,000, with some £56,000 of it going to the first place finisher. Sponsorship changed hands several times over the years, including such backers as General Accident, Madagans, Pertemps, Sagitta, and ultimatebpoker.com, all since 1988. In 2006, bookmaker stanjames.com took on the title position and has held it ever since.

Typically, there are seven starters for the race, although the number may vary from five to ten. In 2010, the Irish four-year-old Jukebox Jury was the favourite among five entries and proved the oddsmakers right at 7/4. It was an important meeting for the event, returning to form after 2009’s debacle, when two horses dropped out prior to post time leaving a field of just three to contend. The favourite at 10/11 was Ireland’s Casual Conquest, who failed to keep pace with the American-bred Bronze Cannon, a winner by three lengths at 7/1.

In the recent history of the Jockey Club Stakes, no horse aged more than five years old has won since 1995. The four- and five-year-olds own the track evenly over the past two decades. Occasional upsets keep the betting interesting, such as Sapience paying 40/1 in 1992, but for the most part the favourites and single-digit forecasts dominate the race, so look to a winning Perfecta, Trifecta, or Quinella if larger payouts are desired.

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