Empress Ali Will Relish Chester Conditions

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That was some exciting start to Chester yesterday! We saw exciting finishes and potentially even the Epsom Oaks winner… the Chester Cup though didn’t went the same way as last year. It was a strong staying performance from improving Trip To Paris who landed Ed Dunlop the big race. Talks about a stint at the Melbourne Cup are obviously on the cards now for this exciting stayer.

In the very same race, my selection John Reel ran an almighty race, didn’t he? Unfortunately the tank was empty 200y too early and he faded from first into fifth in the end. Nonetheless great ride by Kirby, gave the horse every chance and I couldn’t be happier with it, despite the e/w bet not quite getting in.

The Cheshire Oaks went to Aiden O’Brien once again. Diamondsandrubies was a brilliant winner. My selection Entertainment ran a really good race there as the runner-up. Blithe Spirit was the huge disappointment. No excuses for her. I still think she was the best handicapped in the race but she lost it right at the start.

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2.10 Chester: Handicap (Class 2, 10f)

With the weather playing havoc this seems to be a widen open race. Last years winner Tres Coronas must clearly enter the calculations despite a 4lb higher mark today. He’ll handle the ground and loves it here. You surely will need to get the trip and like it soft, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Brazilian import Energia Fox going close today too. On the other hand she looks not particularly well handicapped, that’s why I won’t back her despite very generous odds on offer.

The favourite Collaboration has no issues with rain softened ground either, but I can’t have him here after a 14lb hike in the mark for an – albeit impressive – recent success at Epsom. This is much more demanding today, and despite his progressive profile I just struggle to see any value in odds of 9/4.

Last years runner-up Sennockian Star gives it another go here as well. He looks a mad price at 16/1 in my eyes. Obviously he would have to improve dramatically from what he has shown so far this season. On turf he was well beaten in his last couple of starts and maybe he’s just lost it.

But a return to this track may well rejuvenate him. There is also the small matter of his dramatically low looking handicap mark. He finished runner-up here off 101 last May, won at Glorious Goodwood of the same mark subsequently but is now down to 95! He handles soft ground as well and has a good draw today. At big odds I’m rather on than against him.

Sennockian Star @ 16/1 Paddy Power – 5pts win

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5.25 Chester: Handicap (Class 3; 10f)

Fahey’s Modernism seems to be on a good mark judged on his All-Weather form but only one win on turf puts me off, as well as his non-existent record with cut in the ground. The Character has won a CD maiden last year on good to soft and could be well treated off his current mark if he would find back to that sort of form. Ardmay has a CD success in similar conditions to his name and judged on his very best he may be still capable of better off his current mark.

The one I feel is really overpriced though is the filly Empress Ali. It is a slight risk to trust her on her seasonal reappearance and there is the question if she has trained on from three to four, but that is well reflected in the price, given her progressive profile last year, her positive course record, preference for cut in the ground and possible tactical advantage today. She won a CD Handicap of a mark of 82 following up on some fine performances throughout the summer. Probably a bit over the boil in her final start, still she wasn’t disgraced in a hot race at York.

Currently rated 86, there is fair chance that she has still more to offer, particularly with conditions likely to play to her strengths. She has good draw today which will ensure that she can be ridden handily, or possible even try to make all. She looks versatile in that regard but surly will be in a good tactical position today. All the rain in recent 24h has clearly enhanced her chances too. At 7/1 she looks overpriced in this field.

Empress Ali @ 7/1 William Hill – 5pts win

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