The Chester May Festival gets under way on Wednesday afternoon and we have a tip for each of the seven races on the Roodee.
With a good mix of Classic trials, informative maidens and big handicaps, the Chester May Festival is one of my favourite meetings. Here I run the rule over all seven races on day one.
2.10: Stellar Group Lily Agnes Conditions Stakes, 5f16y
Eight of the nine runners finished either first and second last time out and the other won on his debut. A low draw is a big plus in all races around this tight circuit but horses still need to have the necessary speed at the gates to take advantage, otherwise they are shuffled back in the pack and have to hope the gaps come. On that basis alone, I’m selecting David Evans’ SILVER WINGS, who earned the form comment “broke well” when winning his maiden at Windsor last time (when well backed) and will come out of box one.
2.40: Arkle Finance Cheshire Oaks (For The Robert Sangster Memorial Cup), 1m3f79y
Aidan O’Brien’s Diamondsandrubies has a fitness advantage over most of these, having had a couple of starts already this term, and is nicely drawn in stall three. She looks a worthy favourite but I was really taken by the manner in which VICTORIA POLLARD won her maiden at Newbury last month, despite running green when hitting the front, and this Oaks entry looks well worth her place in this trial. Some good horses have come out of that Newbury race, including the 2011 Oaks winner Dancing Rain, and her trainer Andrew Balding landed the Epsom Classic with Casual Look in 2003. She was her trainer’s nominated “dark horse” in a recent stable tour and has reportedly been working well. The only real negative is her draw in stall 10, but her price of 6/1 (bet365) helps to compensate for that.
3.45: Boodles Diamond Handicap, 5f16y
This looks a trappy contest, but BLITHE SPIRIT must surely be in the mix. The Eric Alston-trained four-year-old has form figures at the track of 24114 and she’ll be spot on for this following her reappearance second in a 5f conditions event at Nottingham, where she showed her customary blistering speed and had 19lb to find at the weights with the winner Spinatrix. Her last win here came off a mark of 89, so today’s perch of 92 is hardly insurmountable, and stall six is okay given she is likely to blast out and grab a handy position against the inside rail. Hopefully, she can hold on and land us a 5/1 (Paddy Power) payday.
4.20: Homeserve Maiden Stakes, 1m2f75y
Aidan O’Brien runs the once-raced SIR ISAAC NEWTON and this 12/1 shot for the Derby is hard to oppose at the forecast odds-on, even though the race is expected to bring him on.
4.55: Merseyrail Day Saver Ticket Conditions Stakes, 5f16y
Robert Cowell is a master trainer of sprinters and this was underlined by Goldream’s Newmarket success on Saturday. He sets punters a poser here by running two but NORMAL EQUILIBRIUM is much preferred over stablemate Duke Of Firenze, who is entitled to need his first run back. The selection won’t lack for fitness and, having run well on both starts in handicap company this term, including when making all at Chelmsford in April, he deserves a crack at this higher level. Rated 100, he doesn’t have to much find – Dutch Masterpiece tops the ratings on 104 – and he has the necessary pace to exploit what is a plum draw in stall one.
5.25: Diabetes UK And British Heart Foundation Handicap, 1m4f66y
It was only an all-weather maiden that PETERHOF won over 7f at Lingfield last October, but he had an odds-on shot, Foreign Diplomat, behind in third and that horse franked the form when winning at Thirsk on his reappearance. This is a massive step up in trip but this Derby entry is bred to get it and it’s almost a given that his initial handicap rating of 82 underestimates him. He looks to have John Gosden’s Secateur to beat.
Good luck with your Chester bets!