Tag Archives: Chester

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

Saturday’s Racing: On The Hunt For Winners

Newmarket Rowley Mile tight finish

2.20 Sandown: Class 2 Handicap, 1m

Whether some of the more lightly raced individuals can improve to a level that’ll see them going close is debatable, but the very much in-form Jacob Black is sure to have a prime chance once again.

The four year old is getting better with every race, and after getting close in a hot Newmarket Handicap on his seasonal debut, he made all to win here at Sandown a fortnight ago. The winning margin was tight in the end but Jacob Black got a bit lonely in front inside the final furlong and was actually eased down towards the end. He had still a bit in hand.

The Handicapper has given him a chance to prove his class and raised his mark by only 3lb. He may not be able to dictate this bigger field as he did the last time, but he has a good draw and should be in an ideal position when it matters.

Jacob Black @ 6/1 Bet365 – 5pts Win

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2.45 Navan: Handicap (60-95), 6f

Quick ground is a rarity in Ireland so there isn’t too much fast ground form on offer in this field. However Lily’s Prince is sure to appreciate the underfoot conditions. She has been it pretty good form in recent weeks. A fine success at Cork, followed up with a sixth place in a hot Tipperary sprint.

On paper this last performance doesn’t look inspiring, but the drop to 5f wasn’t suitable and she lost something at the start. She appeared dangerous briefly from 2f out but was found out for speed eventually. This slightly longer trip is what she needs, and with conditions to suit, she may have still a bit to offer from her current mark in an open enough affair.

Lily’s Prince @ 10/1 Betfred – 5pts Win

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3.10 York: Ganton Stakes (Listed)

The race evolves around the question whether Wannabe Yours is 100% today and if he’s improved from three to four. Last years form is outstanding and gives him a leading chance no doubt. 3/1 looks tempting I admit, but with these question marks flying around I do opt for the form horse at twice the price.

That’s Lincoln winner Gabrial. Conditions come just right for him today with a bit of rain getting into the ground and his recent 4th in Listed Handicap over course and distance gives him a big chance. That day as top weight he had a really tough task assigned and was just beaten in the closing stages by progressive horses with less weight.

The form works out really well, though and Gabrial should find this here actually a bit easier, given he’s on level weights with his rivals. He is holding his form well and is likely to run his race today – which may be good enough to win.

Gabrial @ 7/1 Bet365 – 5pts Win

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5.25 Chester: Class 3 Handicap, 5f

I agree with the betting here: Bowson Fred is a very worthy favourite and has plenty in favour. Good draw, form and conditions. But the fact that he has gone close in all his recent starts without winning suggest he is vulnerable nonetheless.

In contrast if you can forgive Snow Cloud his recent poor showing, you’ll see a progressive, talented and improved filly. Ripon’s 6f in softish conditions were just not what she wanted but she showed true class on her seasonal debut at Redcar in quick conditions over 5f.

Travelling strongly, and producing a nice turn of foot, she looked to have loads in hand. Judged on that performance she might be still better than her current mark off 81, although this is a tougher race and Chester from draw five is something of an unknown experience to her. If she handles it, she is sure to be a big runner.

Snow Cloud @ 7/1 Coral – 5pts Win

Rita’s Boy can take it all!

Twilight Son

Thursday was a day with mixed feelings – Hans Holbein finished the job nicely. He has enhanced his Derby credentials to an extend, is now a general 25/1 chance for the big race. Nonetheless he would have to improve a lot to be a real contender.

His victory meant the day finished in profit, though. Which is always positive. Says all other three selections ran really badly. None did even go close or was in contention when the field turned for home. Disappointing.

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3.45 Chester: Class 2 Handicap, 5f

This race is as open as it gets. The two horses on top of the betting are fair individuals with decent chances to go close, without instilling any confidence and they look short into. Godolphin’s Wanting has to prove that he can act on soft ground, while Snap Shots seems to be on a high enough mark for the moment. Anonymous John has performed really during the winnter on the All-Weather but went up in the mark to 95 without winning in his last six starts. He looks vulnerable off top weight.

The one that looks a tick overpriced in this field is Rita’s Boy. The mount of Franny Norton has ran well on his last two turf starts, finishing runner-up on both occasions behind good winners who followed on from that in good style. He’s been certainly unlucky not to finish closer lto, when he didn’t get a clear run until the final furlong marker, and even wasn’t beaten up. He surely could have finished closer.

He was hampered and knocked out of his rhythm on his penultimate start soon after the start, he also hang a bit in the closing stages but was just beaten by a tight margin by a well handicapped individual. who scored subsequently again.

He went up in the mark for these last two performances but could still be better than his current mark off 82 judged on those runs. He will need to bring his A-game though. He acts on soft ground though and the only slight concern today is the draw which would ideally a bit closer to the rail. Nonetheless I feel he has a cracking chance in this field.

Rita’s Boy @ 11/2 Paddy Power – 5pts win

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8.25 Nottingham: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 2f

The Michael Appleby runner Philba is an interesting contender in this race. He should improve from his seasonal reappearance six days ago but most importantly has been gelded since then. His sire poses some impressive starts for first time geldings, so it may be worth to have a punt on this three year old Cockney Rebel son.

He is also first time blinkered and is probably bound to make all from the front in a race that lacks strengths in depth. He has actually some pretty fair maiden form to his name, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him going strongly today with blinkers fitted now as a gelding.

Philba @ 14/1 William Hill – 5pts win 

Steve Prescott Can Improve As A Gelding

DSC_0958

4.55 Chester: Class 3 Handicap, 6f

I’ll be having a speculative on Richard Fahey’s Steve Prescott. On pure form this horse has a bit too find on his seasonal reappearance but there is plenty to like about him nonetheless. His penultimate performance last season over course and distance rates a good one. He missed the kick but stayed on strongly to finish 2nd. Off a 2lb higher mark he couldn’t follow up in a subsequent start, but most of his racing came here at Chester and he did rather well.

However he seemed to develop a habit of starting slowly, which would be a problem today. He’s never been tried on really soft ground before, however his sire is one with a good record in these conditions usually. Furthermore he should improve with age.

What makes him interesting is the fact that he’s first time out as gelding today. That may well help him to overcome temperamental problems and he could be able to improve a bit. As a fresh horse today, now gelded, you would expect him to be ready for this meeting given who the trainer and owner is. Draw isn’t ideal, but it is a wide open race with a good but overbet favourite.
Steve Prescott @ 25/1 Coral – 5pts Win