Tag Archives: Chester

Thursday Selections: May, 10th 2018

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That looked good… at least for the wallet: Magic Wand (7/2) thundering down to landing the Cheshire Oaks yesterday. A general 14/1 chance for the Oaks, it remains to be seen how much that form is worth as it surely didn’t look a strong renewal. Ispolini in contrast was a real letdown in the Chester Vase.

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4.35 Chester: Class 3 Handicap, 1m 4f

You don’t see that often an Aiden O’Brien trained individual running in a British Handicap, and those that do generally fail to fire. So, you got to be wary of this Christopher Robin today.

On the other hand, this son of Camelot showed promise as a juvenile and despite a disappointing reappearance at Leopardstown recently remains to have some very fancy entries for later the season.

Christopher Robin could also be excused for his 6½ lengths beaten fifth of fifth finish in heavy conditions over 10f in a race that was run at a start stop gallop. If the going was a concern, then the fact he was trailing the field and in a bad spot when the field turned for home is in combination a fair excuse.

Nevertheless, this lad is unlikely to turn into a Group performer. But of a handicap mark off 81 he looks well in given improvement is likely to come for the better ground and step up in trip. This race isn’t that deep and at given odds I feel Christopher Robin is overpriced, actually.

Selection:
10pts win – Christopher Robin @ 5/1 Matchbook

Wednesday Selections: May, 9th 2018

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

2.25 Chester: Cheshire Oaks, Listed, 1M 3F 75Y

This is not a good renewal. At least on paper it appears rather weakish. So, given his record in this race and the jockey bookings at given prices I’m happy to take a chance with Aiden O’Brien’s Magic Wand.

Only to starts to date, a fair debut as a juvenile, and fair pipe opener at Leopardstown in probably unsuitable ground conditions. She looks like crying out for the trip, though the better ground should be a big help too.

Magic Wand was an expensive purchase, is obviously incredibly well bred and has some fancy entries for later the season. Hence this is hopefully only a stepping stone.

Selection: 
10pts win – Magic Wand @ 7/2 WH

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3.35 Chester: Chester Vase Stakes, Group 3, 1m 4f

Open looking contest as it often it is the case at this time of the year: who of these well bred colts turns out best? The answer for today may be found in the recent Sandown Classic trial. Two of the main contenders clash here again: Hunting Horn and Ispolini.

I prefer Goldolphin’s Ispolini today. I like his progressive profile and the fact that he clearly has come on over the winter as we seen when he ran a fine race to finish 2nd at Sandown on his seasonal debut.

That was only his third career start and you saw a bit of inexperience in the closing stages. At the same time he is entitled to come on for the run. From a good draw and with the step up in trip likely to suit, this could turn out to be a real Derby contender for the boys in blue.

Selection:
10pts win – Ispolini @ 7/2 PP

Saturday Selections: St. Leger Day 2017

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1.30 Chester: Class 4 Handicap, 5f

This type of race in this type of conditions won’t suit many in this field, but favourite Show Palace has a prime chance to bounce back to form. He already won three times this year and loves the mud plus looks still to have a bit more to offer with the right conditions.

Franny Norton in the saddle is another bonus, while the positive draw enhances his chances even further.

Selection: 
10pts win – Show Palace @ 3/1 Skybet

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2.40 Chester: Listed Stand Cup Stakes, 1m 4f 

Group 3 winning Duretto proves popular with punters though the well exposed and less sexy Soldier In Action is a better bet in my book. He thrives in tough conditions like the ones to expect at Chester today and stays all day long.

He didn’t land a blow in the Ebor, however won a tough handicap the same month of a mark off 106. So he’s clearly a smart operator. Rated within three pounds of Duretto, match fitness might prove and advantage for Mark Johnston’s inmate, I believe.

Selection:
10ts win – Soldier In Action @ 11/4 Paddy Power

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3.35 Doncaster: Group 1 St. Leger, 1m 6.5f

This years St. Leger shapes as an intriguing contest with five, six horses closely matched on ratings. No doubt, Irish Derby winner Capri warrants plenty of respect, though the ever improving Crystal Ocean, Stradivarius, Defoe and the filly Coronet all real chances to improve again with a big shout over the Leger trip.

However is the forgotten horse in the race another Ballydoyle runner? Venice Beach doesn’t get any love leading up to the race, even though he has some excellent form in the book too.

Sure, he looks short of top class over a mile and a quarter, however he shapes like a grinder who’s crying out for the trip. Watch back the Grand Prix de Paris, where he looked outpaced and beaten in the home straight. Yet he fought back gamely, found more and more and finished an excellent third.

At York in the Voltigeur he wasn’t a match for Cracksman. But he finished a clear second of some decent individuals. It might turn out that he simply is not a Group 1 animal, that says the trip and ground in combination make him a big danger to anyone in this field, I feel.

Selection:
10pts win – Venice Beach @ 14/1 Bet365

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5.15 Musselburgh: Class 3 Handicap, 1m 6f

I’ve been keen on Dominating the last time at York in the Melrose Handicap, though he flopped that day. We can draw a line through that I feel, though, given it was a very hot race. This is easier and it remains the fact that Irish St. Leger winner Jukebox Jury has an outstanding record with his first crop of three year old’s in Britain.

Contributing towards this has been the Mark Johnston trained Dominating himself, as he has won already three times this year, including over the 1m 6f trip and at Musselburgh.

I don’t think conditions will be an issue for him, in case the rain arrives. He didn’t perform the one time he raced on soft ground, but on pedigree it looks fine and he’s a different horse now, I believe.

Selection:
10pts win – Dominating @ 9/2 Bet365

Saturday Selections – 1st July 2017

2.20 Chester: Class 3 Handicap, 5 furlongs

Blithe Spirit hasn’t shown anything of note this season yet, however she has to be respected on return to her beloved Chester with softish conditions sure to suit. She has been given a big chance by the handicapper and has the advantage of a good draw.

Selection:
10pts win – Blithe Spirit @ 16/1 Ladbrokes

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4.15 York: Maiden Stakes, 1 Mile

White Rosa is the one to beat. She boosts a lovely pedigree, went close on debut and should improve a good deal with that experience under her belt.

The form of that race doesn’t look too shabby given the 4th went on to win a maiden subsequently.

Selection:
10pts win – White Rosa @ 5/2 Bet365

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8.10 Lingfield: Class 5 Handicap, 7 Furlongs

Express Lady looks leniently treated on handicap debut. She won a fair maiden over course and distance on debut tanking along for most parts of the race not dropping to bit to get in practically on the bridle whereas the runner-up a 82 rated individual who franked the form subsequently, was labouring without having a chance.

That was against boys. Today same CD against fillies, top weight Bassmah looks a decent threat but Express Lady should be too good of an opening mark off 73.

Selection:
10pts win – Express Lady @ 13/8 Bet365

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5.20 Curragh: Irish Derby, 1m 4f

A wide open renewal with no clear cut favourite as it’s been the case in the years before. The Epsom Derby winner Wings Of Eagles is here, though, and commands plenty of respect.

He is a legit winner of the big race in my mind. However his racing style is risky. He needs to have everything fall right for him. That was the case at Epsom thanks to a red hot pace and him finding gaps when he really needed them.

The Curragh is usually a fair track, however can – even more so when there is a bit cut in the ground – favour those up with the pace. In my opinion at least. Wings Of Eagles could still be too good but he will need all the luck in the world, I feel.

You got to respect when Andre Fabre sends one over. Waldgeist was a close runner-up in the French Derby and the longer trip today isn’t an issue. He is clearly the one all have to beat as tactically I feel he holds all the aces.

Cracksman was good in the Derby and should have still a bit more to offer given his general inexperience. The pace scenario suits him, so does the track.

I’m not a fan of Capri. A big, grey horse. Can still do better no doubt and may have not been seen to best effect at Epsom. However his overall record suggests he is not quite up to it.

One big price laughs at me: Douglas McArthur in the famous colours of South African owner Markus Jooste. This horse keeps defying expectations. He was fourth and less than two lengths beaten in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud as a 2yo behind Waldgeist, was runner-up on his seasonal reappearance in the Ballysax and won the Leopardstown Derby Trial as an unfancied chance.

He was then used as a pace maker in the Epsom Derby, where he outran his price tag once again, lasting for a very long time and finishing a gallant 7th.

He will be up there again today, but may race a bit more on his own merit. Taj Mahal may well be the Nr. pace setter. Sitting behind in second should suit Douglas McArthur. There are still some doubts about his stamina, nonetheless being with the speed will be an advantage in my mind and if he stays then he could be very hard to pass as he has already shown.

Selection:
10pts win – Douglas McArthur @ 15/1 Matchbook

Chester Thoughts

The Chester Vase is often a good trial for the Derby, particularly if it comes to horses trained by Aiden O’Brien. He likes to bring his Derby hopes over to this awkward, ever turning track that tends to teach young, inexperienced horses allot.

So it was intriguing to see him running a whopping four in the Vase on Thursday. That implies AOB isn’t sure himself whether one of these actually is a real contender for the big one in June, I suspect.

As it panned out favourite Venice Beach won the race in fine enough style, though far from giving the impression that he’s an upcoming superstar. And that is pretty much in line with what the four times raced son of Galileo produced so far – his highest time speed rating until yesterday was a lowly 72. It’s fair to say, at this point in time, that despite his victory yesterday, he’s probably not the 2017 Derby winner.

Runner-up Wings Of Eagles isn’t a superstar either, however I liked, at least on the visual front, the way he stayed on late despite encountering a troubled run, where he was forced to come wide around in the closing stages.

Despite four runs – so a bit of experience on would think – under his belt before Chester, he still seemed to have quite a bit to learn. The race comments for him in the Vase actually state ” disorganised over 1f out” – you’d hope the experience taught him a good lesson – as it should – and that in itself makes him an interesting horse to monitor for the future I reckon.

Today we see the return of US Army Ranger to the place of his biggest success: he won here the Vase twelve months ago on only his second career outing which as a result catapulted him into the hot seat for the 2016 Derby.

He finished a strong runner-up behind Harzand in the Classic of the Classics, however things have not gone to plan subsequently and it was pretty much the same story on his seasonal reappearance last month.

So with plenty of intrigue I watch him go to post today in the Diamond Ormonde Stakes, a Group 3 contest, which, if he is as good as he promised early in his career, he should win. Would I bet on it? Hell, no!

A good hour earlier on the card we’ll see a horse that’s been talked about aplenty: Cliffs Of Moher. The thee year old is the 8/1 second favourite in the Derby ante-post market right now, based on hype, trainer name and on an impressive second career run, when beating useful stable mate Orderofthegarter at the end of last season, clocking a serious time speed rating of 104.

Can he deliver today? If he does we probably see him shortening dramatically in the betting for the Derby. The fact that Aiden O’Brien does not run another horse here in the Dee Stakes seems significant in terms of confidence he and “the lads” have in the Galileo son.

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1.50 Chester: Class 2 Handicap, 7.5 furlongs

Hot race with a potentially well handicapped favourite in lightly raced El Hayem however the James Eustace trained Ice Slice should go close from a good draw for a much better price.

He’s already a CD winner and went close from a poor draw on his only second start here. Ice Slice was a massively improved horse last year winning five races and on form looks capable of running to or even above his current handicap rating of 93.

He probably needed his seasonal reappearance run last month and should strip fitter. Conditions will suit, even if a bit of rain would fall.

Selection:
10pts win – Ice Slice @ 8/1 Bet365

Chester Kick-Off

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.

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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.

Selection:
10pts win – Alluringly @ 6/4 Skybet

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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.

Selection:
10pts win – Fast Dancer @ 14/1 Bet365

Piri Wango can land the Ahonoora

Gordon Lord Byron

3.15 Chester: Queensferry Stakes (Listed), 6f

You can pick holes into any horse here, even the rather shortish favourite. Eastern Impact’s Royal Ascot performance sets obviously a very high standard, but earlier this season he wasn’t capable of winning a listed event. So while the drop in class is significant today, it doesn’t mean he’ll have an easy task.

With the rain falling, I like to give proven soft ground performer Canny Kool a chance here. He tries 6f for the first time and will have raise his game in order to feature. But he should be well suited by the trip on pedigree and may well be able to pull out more. He has a good draw and is usually up with the pace, which always helps at Chester.

Canny Kool @ 12/1 Betfred – 5pts Win

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3.50 Chester: Class 3 Handicap, 1m

Apostle need to have things fall inch right for him in order to win, as happened exactly one year ago when he landed this very same race. He is down to the very same mark today, hasn’t been disgraced in a very hot handicap lately and therefore should be in with a fine chance here.

The draw isn’t ideal and it appears to be a deep enough race, so chances are that he may not get the all clear run he needs. But despite the quality on offer in the field, not many are well handicapped, unlike Apostle.

Apostle @ 10/1 Bet365 – 5ps Win

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3.20 Galway: Ahonoora Handicap, 7f

A surprisingly lacklustre affair, with a clear lack of quality on offer. Only a handful of horses should be good enough to feature. That makes it easier to narrow down the field. Last years winner Baraweez ran well earlier this week at Festival and must have a prime chance off the same mark today. I can see why Hidden Oasis features prominently in the betting, but the step up in trip is a worry.

Beau Satchel won earlier this week and loves the track, so does old boy Pintura – both make plenty of appeal, but the money is coming in for Ger Lyons’ charge Piri Wango and there is a strong case to be made for him.

He is proven over course and distance, finished runner-up in the Topaz Mile last year and in good form lately. He’s the class act in the field with excellent Group form to his name, but that is also the reason why he has to carry top weight. It’s a tough ask but he performed well under big weights in the past and should love the conditions today.

Seven furlongs is as sharp a trip as he likes it these days, but blinkers and a good draw will clearly help to see him early in position. I believe he has a prime chance to go close today.

Piri Wango @ 7/1 Bet465 – 5pts Win