Chester is as charming a venue as it is demanding on horses who take on its tough and sharp turns and once again, the much-loved three day May meeting gets under way this week, starting off with the Group 3 Chester Vase card on Wednesday.
The layout of the meeting has switched around somewhat for 2018, with the Chester Cup moving to Friday this year, which makes sense seeing as it is the feature race of the meeting. Today’s card is a good mix of quality, potential and good handicap races, but the main focus is a pair of Epsom Classic trials at 2.25pm and 3.35pm.
In 2017, the brilliant Oaks and Arc winner Enable landed the Listed Cheshire Oaks and once again, an intriguing field has formed to take on the 1m3f contest. It’s unlikely we’ll find a winner as good as last year’s here, however. The likely favourite is Aidan O’Brien’s Magic Wand, a two race maiden possessing the profile of an improving filly. She hasn’t achieved much to date however and overall, looks short enough in the betting. Of the lightly-raced runners, Ralph Becket’s Kinaesthesia won on her debut and will be attractive to many punters, while the more experienced Shaherezada will also appeal to each way backers, running for a white-hot Roger Varian stable.
This is a fiendishly difficult little trial to unravel, but I’ll take a chance on O’Brien’s DRAMATICALLY, a War Front filly who is bred to appreciate this step up in trip, running under the safe hands of Seamie Heffernan.
It doesn’t get any easier for punters at 3.35pm, with the Group 3 Chester Vase Stakes over 1m4f providing quite the puzzle. Once again, Ballydoyle is well represented. With Ryan Moore choosing Hunting Horn over Flag Of Honour and Family Tree, the son of Camelot is likely to go off favourite after a decent run when 3rd in a Sandown trial the last day; just behind Charlie Appleby’s Ispolini who re-opposes here. The quality of that trial is open to debate and with this pair taking up much of the market, it’s appealing to look elsewhere for a bet.
William Haggas has been in flying form over the past month (10 wins from 52 runners the past 28 days) and his YOUNG RASCAL comes to the table with an interesting profile. The son of Intello won a 20-runner Newbury maiden by 5 lengths in a good time last month and although this is a vastly different task around the sharper turns of Chester in a smaller field, this 3yo is certainly going the right way and has to be respected. Haggas doesn’t have many runners around Chester generally, but he operates at an impressive hit rate with the horses he does saddle up there.
Idaho to prove too hot in Ormond Stakes
On Thursday, IDAHO will be a warm order to get his campaign off to a winning start in the feature Ormond Stakes at 3.35pm. A horse with a world of talent under his bonnet, we all know Idaho could win a race like this standing on his head if in the mood. But will he be? A respectable enough run first time out in Meydan should certainly put the edge on him and there’s no reason Chester shouldn’t play to his strengths on quick ground. It is unlikely he’ll be beaten by any of his five rivals if producing something like his best form. The main threat could turn out to be Duretto, who was a close 3rd in this race last year and handles the track well.
Take a chance on Byron Flyer in Chester Cup on Friday
Only four favourites have won the Chester Cup since 1975, highlighting just how hard a race it is for all the runners and riders. Luck is obviously a key factor here, but it is a race riddled with interesting trends which can at least point one in the direction of a horse with a suitable profile. One such horse fitting the bill is the Ian Williams trained BYRON FLYER.
A 7yo running off a mark of 96 and carrying 8st 12lb, he ticks the Age | Rating | Weight boxes just about perfectly based on recent winners. Price wise, only 2 winners in the past 16 years went off above 20/1, but equally the race is laden with a history of double figure priced winners. Byron Flyer is available to back at 20/1 in several places, so sits in an agreeable bracket in that sense and with the services of Franny Norton assured, we also have the best Chester jockey around on board.
Byron Flyer was heavily supported to land a 1m5f handicap here in late May of last year, where things didn’t go well in running. He is an improved horse since then and returns to Chester with a notable chance of getting involved in the biggest race of all, around this unique little track.
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Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.