The Chester May Festival kicks off on Wednesday. Traditionally quite an important date in the calendar as more often than not we see potential Oaks and Derby contenders over the three days.
However it is also a meeting that brings certain aspects of the Chester racecourse to the forefront of our mind: the draw advantage or disadvantage in particular. It’s no secret – and numbers do back it up indeed – that low drawn horses perform much better than those drawn wide. This not uncommon, of course, but even more emphasised at this ever turning track.
Particularly over sprint distances, if you are drawn in the high numbers you can basically forget whatever winning chances you dreamed of – it’s not gonna happen. So bear that in mind if you intend to get in involved in the races.
2.25 Chester: Cheshire Oaks (Listed), 1m 4f
Aiden O’Brien has used this race as a springboard for plenty of good fillies in the past, in fact his record is quite sublime and therefore it should be a tip in itself that he brings Alluringly here on the back of a mightily impressive maiden success last month.
The Fastnet Rock filly rocked home at Tipperary in stylish fashion, giving the impression that she could be a very smart individual. She looked, big and scopey, clearly physically improved that day, after two slightly underwhelming runs as a juvenile.
The step up in trip is the question mark. She goes as far as never before and it’s not clear cut on pedigree, however there is Saddler’s Wells in the dam line, so that alone should ensure that she has at least a fighting chance. Also she ran strongly to the line the other day, giving the impression a step up in trip will only see her improving again.
10pts win – Alluringly @ 6/4 Skybet
5.05 Chester: Class 4 Handicap, 7f
The final race of the opening card of the Festival. I elaborated above on how the draw plays a huge role here, so going against the bias backing a horse from a wide draw is probably rather dumb.
I still do it. Reason is that I back bottom weight Fast Dancer here, who is drawn in eleven, but who is a hold-up horse and therefore might not be quite as disadvantaged by the draw as a horse that needs to lead.
Though it is also true that being up with the pace is an advantage at Chester too, it also happens regularly that they go way too fast up on front witch in turn opens up opportunities for those horse ridden more patiently.
Fast Dancer will rely on this fast pace and what encourages me most is his positive course record. Also he dropped to a mark that potentially undervalues his past achievements and therefore a race to suit should see him have a cracking chance here.
10pts win – Fast Dancer @ 14/1 Bet365