What are the best bets at Chester on Thursday?
The Chester May meeting continues this afternoon and here are my thoughts on the four Channel 4-televised races.
14:10 Gateley PLC Original Legal Thinking Handicap, 1m2f75y
Sir Michael Stoute’s Darshini looked like he wanted further when winning over this trip at Chelmsford last month and for that reason he’s swerved at the current 4/1. A gelding operation has been the making of Deep Red as he’s won both his starts this term and he should make a bold bid to land the hat-trick, though he’s drawn wider than ideal in stall ten – the importance of a low draw here cannot be overestimated.
Better drawn is Mick Easterby’s FELIX DE VEGA (7/1 Hills) in stall one and the four-year-old is a tentative choice in a wide open contest. He absolutely hacked up at Redcar last time – perhaps too well as the handicapper raised him 8lb as a result – but he looks to be going the right way and his in form trainer is claiming 5lb off him. He appeared to appreciate heavy ground last time but he has won on a firm surface, so he shouldn’t be too inconvenienced if the ground dries out from the current ‘good to soft’ (likely).
14:40 Betway Huxley Stakes (Group 3) (For The Tradesman’s Cup), 1m2f75y
There’s not much between the Sir Michael Stoute and John Gosden representatives, CANNOCK CHASE and Western Hymn respectively, on the ratings, but the latter horse is in receipt of 7lb and has had a previous run, so it’s easy to see why he’s favoured in the betting – he’s Sky Bet’s 5/4 favourite ahead of Cannock Chase at 3/1.
However, having done all his winning at Sandown, he does have to prove himself around the tight turns of the Roodeye, whereas the Stoute horse finished second in last year’s race and is a Group 1 winner who could be a typical late bloomer for his trainer. The stable record also speaks in his favour with three winners and three places from just seven runners and that earns him the pick, with Ryan Moore booked to do the steering.
William Haggas’ Battalion looks a big danger. He’s undeniably quirky and has done most of his recent running on the all-weather, but the six-year-old acts well on tight tracks like this one and has been working nicely at home since appearing not to stay in the 1m5f John Porter Stakes at Chelmsford last month. The drop in trip is just what he needs and he’s worth a small saver.
15:10 MBNA Chester Vase (Group 3), 1m4f66y
Aidan O’Brien’s US Army Ranger was all the rage for the Epsom Derby after winning his maiden at the Curragh last month in ready fashion. As a consequence the son of Galileo is a short price to follow up here – Hills’ 1/2 is the best quote – and he may well be too good. However, as we found out with Air Force Blue in the 2000 Guineas, the stable hotpots don’t always win, and stablemate Somehow made hard work of winning yesterday’s Cheshire Oaks. He’s certainly no bet at odds-on then.
O’Brien is also represented by Beresford Stakes winner Port Douglas and he has to be respected, though a 4lb penalty makes life tough for him on his return to action. Instead, let’s take a flyer at a bigger price on Charlie Hills’ HIGH GROUNDS. A winner on the all-weather at Lingfield on his racecourse debut back in January, he perhaps found the soft ground against him when a modest third behind Derby hope Midterm in the Group 3 Classic Trial at Sandown last time a decent will appreciate today’s better surface. He is still the stable number one hope for the Derby and a much better run can be expected at a meeting the stable has always targeted. He’s worth backing to small stakes at bet365’s 16/1 and should be combined with the favourite in a dual forecast bet as cover.
15:45 Boodles Diamond Handicap, 7f122y
It’s hard to rule out any of the nine runners with any real confidence, though those drawn out wide will need some luck in running. Arcanada, the only course winner in the field, is drawn widest of all and Richard Fahey’s promising Dark Devil has fared little better in stall eight. That’s not to say they can’t win but I’d rather be on the Richard Hannon-trained STORM RISING (7/2 bet365) who will exit from stall three.
The son of Canford Cliffs showed plenty of promise plenty of promise as a juvenile winning his first two starts at Newbury (a maiden and a nursery, both on soft ground) and was probably over the top when finishing last of five at Newmarket in October on his final start. He starts this season on what is potentially a generous mark of 90 and his trainer, who has been amongst the winners of late, did say last term that he’d be better on a decent surface, so a career-best effort on today’s drying ground would not surprise.
2.00 Felix De Vega @ 7/1 Hills
2.40 Cannock Chase @ 3/1 Sky Bet (saver on Battalion @ 7/1 Hills)
3.10 High Grounds each-way @ 16/1 (plus dual forecast with US Army Ranger)
3.45 Storm Rising @ 9/2 bet365
All odds were correct at time of posting.