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City & Suburban / Great Metropolitan Handicaps

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  • #21612
    betlarge
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    • Total Posts 2789

    Tomorrow’s Spring Meeting at Epsom sees the renewals of the City & Suburban and Great Metropolitan Handicaps. I remember these as still significant early-season handicaps in the late 70’s but their status has increasingly diminished in recent times.

    The following was found on-line:

    First run in 1851, The City & Suburban Handicap is a race that in former times was regularly contested by a high-class field. For instance, in 1854, the filly Virago, had an unorthodox preparation for the forthcoming 1000 Guineas, by completing an unusual double of winning this race and the mile longer Great Metropolitan at the Epsom Spring Meeting. Obviously a tough customer, Virago actually won twice more at York later in April, before triumphing in the 1000 Guineas itself in early May. Unfortunately the race now longer attracts horses of that calibre, and is now just another ordinary mile and a quarter handicap.

    In 1846, Epsom’s clerk of the course set out to upgrade the Spring Meeting by persuading businesses and clubs in the London area to contribute towards the prize money for a new race. He successfully raised the sum of £300 for the purpose, and so the Great Metropolitan Handicap was born, making it one the first races to be sponsored. Before 1985 this race was unique in the English racing calendar. Then raced over two and a quarter miles, it started at the winning post and ran in the reverse direction of the Derby course for about 3 furlongs, where it turned right across the in-field of the main track, rejoining the Derby course just over a mile from home. Because the in-field of the course was downs land, and open to the public, it became increasingly difficult to maintain it in good racing condition, so in 1985 the race was reduced to a mile and a half and run over the Derby course itself. The unique character of the race was consequently lost, and it has now become just another handicap.

    Interestingly, such were the success of these two handicaps in years past, they influenced the creation of two major American races – the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap and Grade II Suburban Handicap, both run at Belmont. These are two legs of the New York Handicap Triple Crown (along with the Grade II Brooklyn Handicap) run in May/June.

    Anyway, here’s Summer Princess landing the Met in 1931:

    http://www.britishpathe.com/video/good-old-epsom-once-again

    Mike

    #401976
    Eclipse First
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    • Total Posts 1569

    Sefton won the City and Suburban in 1878 before going on to win the Derby.

    #401977
    itsawar
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    • Total Posts 213

    thats brilliant, thanks for the history lesson, very interesting. It’s strange watching them go off with out stalls, but the video is good for nearly one hundred years old.
    cheers

    #402037
    Crepello1957
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    • Total Posts 734

    Disappointed they are no longer on terrestrial.

    #402044
    stodge
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    • Total Posts 92

    Yes, I remember the Great Metyropolitan, a unique race. I believe Willie Carson said it was a really dangerous race to ride because it was always a big field and the undulations across the middle of the course were variable at best.

    #402051
    phil walker
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    • Total Posts 1376

    Surprised they don’t move the races to a weekend or to another course like Sandown to regain terrestrial coverage.

    Am I wrong in thinking the City & Sub used to be run at Kempton?

    #402053
    betlarge
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    Surprised they don’t move the races to a weekend or to another course like Sandown to regain terrestrial coverage.

    Am I wrong in thinking the City & Sub used to be run at Kempton?

    No, always been at Epsom to my knowledge. You’re not thinking of Kempton’s Roseberry Hcap by any chance, another in-decline early season race that is now run on the A-W.

    Mike

    #402059
    CrustyPatch
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    • Total Posts 917

    I remember watching those races, including the Great Metropolitan, on ITV in the days when that meeting was televised from Epsom.
    John Penney used to be the commentator for that meeting and I remember being fascinated at watching the horses "meandering" across the course all over the place, as Brough Scott used to put it.
    Health and safety zealots today would hate it.
    A real treat to watch at the time because the route of the course was so unusual.

    #402070
    phil walker
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    • Total Posts 1376

    You’re not thinking of Kempton’s Roseberry Hcap by any chance, another in-decline early season race that is now run on the A-W.Mike

    Thanks Mike, very possible I’ve got those mixed up. The Rosebery, the Queens Prize, the Jubilee Handicap aaah the good days at Kempton with their turf flat course

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