Geoffrey Freer Stakes Betting

From May through August each year, the Newbury Racecourse in Berkshire organises a series of events under the title “Party in the Paddock.” The gatherings draw top-name music acts, such as The Wanted and Tom Jones, along with a full slate of racing, leading up to an exciting card of eight contests on a Saturday in mid-August. That’s when the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes is held, as a supporting race for the main event—the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes worth £100,000.

This £65,000 flat race takes place on the left-handed turf of the Newbury track, covering a distance of one mile, five furlongs and 61 yards. It is open to Thoroughbreds aged three years and upwards. The youngest runners carry eight stone six pounds, while entrants aged four years and older carry nine-stone-four.

Allowances of three pounds are awarded to fillies and mares. There are penalty weights applied to winners of races of one and half miles or longer since 1st November of the previous year, amounting six pounds for Group 1 winners, four pounds for Group 2 winners and two pounds for Group 3 winners.

The inaugural edition of this event was conducted in 1949, when it was known as the Oxfordshire Stakes. The race was the idea of Geoffrey Freer, who was then the manager of the Newbury Racecourse as well as being a handicapper for the Jockey Club. Freer was credited with restoring the racecourse after it had served as an American military supply depot in World War II. The year following his death in 1968, the race was renamed in his honour.

When the current system of race classification was initiated in 1971, the Geoffrey Freer Stakes was accorded Group 2 status. One of its earliest sponsors was Walmac International, who held the tile role through 1990. Ibn Bey followed as the primary backer in 1991~93, and then came Tripleprint from 1994 through 1997.

For several years, the Geoffrey Freer Stakes had no main sponsor. From 2001 to 2005, Stan James was the primary backer. In 2006, the Geoffrey Freer Stakes was relegated to Group 3 level and the Sportsman Newspaper took up sponsorship. A year later, current sponsor CGA came on board not only for this race but also for the Hungerford Stakes.

In six decades of racing, the Geoffrey Freer Stakes has seen several back-to-back winners. Sovrango was the first in 1962-63, followed by High Line in 1970-71 and Ardross in 1981-82. Then in 2002-04 came the one and only three-time winner, Mubtaker. In 2005, the mighty chestnut stallion tried for an unprecedented fourth victory at age eight but narrowly lost by a neck to unheralded Lochbuie, who paid 12/1.

Three jockeys have four wins apiece in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes. The first to accomplish the feat was Lester Piggott, who got victories aboard Court Command in 1956 and Valinsky in 1977 before winning twice on Ardross. Pat Eddery followed right behind with wins atop Realistic in 1974, Consol in 1975, Moon Madness in 1987 and Silver Patriarch in 1999. Most recently, Frankie Dettori added his fourth win with Kite Wood in 2009, after triumphant rides on Charmer in 1990, Drum Taps in 1991 and Phantom Gold in 1996.

Among trainers, only one has amassed five victories here. That’s honour belongs to Noel Murless, who had success with Ridge Wood in 1949, Court Command in 1956, Hopeful Venture in 1967, Rangong in 1969 and Attica Meli in 1973. Ardross’s trainer Henry Cecil has four winners of his own, including Red route in 1994 and Dushyantor in 1997. Sir Michael Stoute is still looking for a fourth win to be added to the three he’s had with Shemazar in 1985, Multicoloured in 1998 and Papal Bull in 2007.

A good tip at the Geoffrey Freer Stakes is to pay attention to the bookmakers. They correctly identified seven of eleven winners since 2000, including all three of Mubtaker’s victories, Murghem at 7/4 in 2000, Papal Bull at 6/4, Sixties Icon at 2/1 in 2008 and Kite Wood at11/10 in 2009.

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