I’m at Chester this week and it looks to be a beautiful Wednesday – There’s a smell of Pimms and cut grass in the air….I’m hoping to bag a few winners so lets dive in.
1.50 Stellar Group Lily Agnes Conditions Stakes
The opening race is a 5f race for 2 year olds and it is always a fascinating race to watch as they go so quick around here. Chester has the biggest draw bias in the country.
The horses drawn low have an exceptional record at this track. Also front runners do exceedingly well here. The last 4 winners of this race were drawn high though which is quite odd. I think when it comes to this race the best horse wins no matter the draw. I don’t think the horses drawn 1 and 2 will have enough early pace to lead.
Yogi’s Girl in stall 3 and Black Orange stall 4 will most likely set the early pace. Yogi’s Girl won nicely from the front last time out and I think she’ll take plenty of catching in this. That was on a right handed track though.
She ran very wide off the bend on her first start which was on a left handed track which leads to some doubts about her getting around the bends here.
Requinto Dawn won nicely in the Brocklesby and was a decent 2nd off a penalty last time out at Doncaster. This horse likes to be held up though and I’m not sure that racing style will suit here. Big Time Maybe is my idea of the best horse in the race. This horse made the running on debut and was reeling in in the final stages of the race. The winner has since gone on and won again which has boosted the form.
Stall 10 will make winning this race a test but I think the horse has enough early speed to get across to a decent position. Former Football Michael Owen is one of the owners of his horse and he aims all of his best horses at this meeting every year.
I think BIG TIME MAYBE can land the opening race for him. Yogi’s Girl looks the danger though.
2.25 Arkle Finance Cheshire Oaks
The 2:25 is the Cheshire Oaks Listed race for 3 year old fillies. This race will be run just short of the Epsom Oaks distance and it is always a decent trial for that race in June. Aidan O’Brien has won this race 5 of the last 9 times including the last 2 renewals.
He is going for three in a row this year with his Fastnet Rock filly Alluringly. This filly ran very green on debut last season as a two year old. She was a never nearer 7th in a 7f big field maiden.
Clearly that trip was on the sharp side for her. I’m not sure what they were thinking when they ran her over 6f on her next start last October. She was always outpaced but did her best work late on to claim 5th place. She was not seen out again until she reappeared last month at Tipperary.
That day she was stepped up to 1 mile and 1f and it clearly made the difference. She came there off the final bend pulling a train. Was barely asked to go on and she sprinted clear, both her and the runner up pulled a long ways in front of the field and she won eased down at the end. She didn’t beat much but she won with considerable ease.
The 1 mile 1f trip that day even looked to be too short for her, she’ll love the further step up in trip today. I think she has a nice turn of foot and she stays very well. She shouldn’t have a problem with the sharp track due to Ballydoyle having gallops with sharp bends.
Rank outsider Erica Bing will insure a strong pace today which will suit. Enable to me looks the only danger to Alluringly. This horse won nicely on debut at Newcastle. The form of that race worked out well and was unlucky on her 2nd start when 3rd to stablemate Shutter Speed.
Enable was denied a clear run and finished best of all. There’s no doubt that the step up in trip from 1 mile 2 to this trip will suit. The only question is though how good is she. I think both fillies are classy but I think Alluringly has more upside.
We haven’t seen the best of ALLURINGLY by a long ways and I think she can given Aidan O’Brien another winner in this race.
3.00 Boodles Diamond Handicap
The 3:00 is a 5f sprint handicap and the draw could play a big part in deciding this one. Early speed and a low draw is a must. There are quite a number of hold up horses in this race and I think it’s a big disadvantage for them. Only one of the last eight winners of this race were drawn higher than stall 4.
Six of the last eight winners were drawn in either stalls 3 or 4. Sir Maximillian is drawn in stall 3 and Reflektor is drawn in stall 4 in today race.
Sir Maximillian is a course winner but he is an extreme hold up horse who has to be put their on the line. That given Reflektor could be the one to be on. He has bags of early pace and can front run. He also comes from the same yard as Big Time Maybe in the 1st race on the card.
This is another horse that Michael Owen has connections with and these horses can nearly be followed blind at this meeting.
This horse was 2nd twice at this course last year so no problems with handling it. Taexali in stall 2 and El Astronaute in stall 1 are also front runners.
Taexali has an awful strike rate of 1 from 20 but El Astronaute on the other hand is a very capable sprinter. At the early stages of last season I thought this horse would go on to run in listed and group class but the horse was a major disappointment all bar a win on his last run of the season off a 6lb lower mark.
He needed his 1st run back this season but won gamely last time out at Newmarket off a 2lb lower mark. 2 wins in the last 3 starts suggest he’s getting his act in order. Stall 1 will be a big help for him to win again. REFLEKTOR has beat him on one occasion though in the past and at the prices I’d rather side with that one today.
Blithe Spirit the 5 time winner here is also not without a chance at big odds but he’s drawn wide.
3.35 188Bet Chester Cup Handicap
The 3:35 is the feature race of the day and it is the Chester Cup handicap which is due to be run over 2 miles and 2 and a ½ furlongs. Like the sprint races at this track the draw has an impact on the outcome of this race too.6 of the last 8 winners were drawn lower stall 5 or lower.
Nakeeta was a short head 2nd in this race last year but has to carry a further 10lb this time round which won’t make life easy. He was last seen when runner up to Golden Spear in the November handicap at Leopardstown. He gave that runner 12lb that day and has to give that rival 3lb less today. I’m not sure if it’s enough to reverse the placings though.
Golden Spear is also fit from hurdling. He’s been placed in top handicap hurdles at Ascot, Leopardstown and recently at Fairyhouse. He’s a holdup performer which won’t make things easy for him around here but he has Ryan Moore in the saddle.
Blakeney Point is many people’s idea of the winner of this race. This horse has improved greatly for the step up to marathon trips and has won 3 of his last 4 races. The only loss came on the turf. He does have a win here but that is his only win on turf. I think he’s a much better horse on the all weather.
Based on a line through Magic Circle, Golden Spear holds Blakeney Point on form.
The Cashel Man was a good 2nd in the Cesarewitch trial over this trip last season and then a decent 4th in the race itself. I think that race is the key trial for this race and many of these ran in it.
Fun Mac, Nakeeta and Angel Gabriel were well down the field that day but Yorkidding 7th, Golden Spear 5th, The Cashel Man 4th, Sea of Heaven 3rd and First Mohican 2nd all ran great races. The winner Sweet Selection recently won a Group 3 so the form is rock solid. Based on that run alone Yorkridding is now rated to reverse the form with with all of those horses. He’s between 1lb and 10lb better off with those runners today. Based on the collateral form, Sea of Heaven is the only one that should get close to him today.
There was very little between them in a previous race too.
There are plenty of other horses in this race that weren’t in the Cesarewitch but both Yorkridding and Sea of Heaven look to have decent chances.
They both have course form here too which is a bonus.Yorkridding has a great berth in stall 3 though whereas Sea of Heaven is drawn wide in 14.
Of the others Who Dares Wins, Montaly and Watersmeet all have decent chances. Who Dares Wins won at this track off an 8lb lower mark last season. He is another who is fit from hurdling and he has run with credit in a few decent handicap hurdles this season including when 3rd at the Cheltenham Festival. He stays well but he might find a few better handicapped horses too good for him. Watersmeet who is Yorkridding’s stablemate looks to have a decent chance.
He stays well and he looks the type to go well here. His jockey Franny Norton is always a jockey to follow around here too. Montaly is an out and out stayer and he has a real nice draw in stall 2.
He was placed in 3 staying handicaps last season and then was out of his depth in a Group 1 in France. Much calmer waters here.
He’s not won for 3 years though but he could well make the place. I think Sea Of Heaven will take plenty of beating in this but there isn’t much between he and Yorkridding.
Sea of Heaven doesn’t look great value at 11/2 either, YORKRIDDING looks decent value each way at 12/1 and he is my selection.
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