It is the final day of the May Meeting from Chester on Friday and after a win and a place from four selections so far this week we are looking to finish with a bit of a bang. The big race on Friday is the Chester Cup. We’ve picked out our bet for that race and two other from the support cast to end the week with.
The final day of the 3 day Chester May meeting sees a big field of 16 declared for a really good looking 7 furlong Class 2 handicap.
Despite the big field, there’s not loads of pace with the likely leaders drawn in 6 and 12. The market is wide open bar the 3/1 favourite Ptarmigan Ridge. He goes very well on soft and was gambled on into favouritism at Haydock on his only run this term when 2nd off 88. He’s up to a mark of 91 here, he has a good draw but the price is too tight to be getting involved.
Last year’s winner Baraweez bids to go in again and loves a tight turning track. He also goes very well when turned out quickly so a 6 day absence is very interesting indeed. He’s hard to overlook but he’s now a 9 year old and there may be something more progressive in the field.
Love Dreams is drawn widest of all in 16 so that should put paid to his chance whilst Shady McCoy has the ground in his favour but the track and his hold up style will count against him.
Instead, the bet in this race has to be Cold Stare who was down the field in that Haydock race where Ptarmigan Ridge was 2nd. He tends to come on loads for his first run after a break; note that, until this season, he’d beaten just 2 of 42 opponents when seeing the racecourse after a break of 50 days of more.
The key to this horse is the ground. He ran ok in the Greenham last term on good to soft ground but didn’t see his ground again until winning on soft at Haydock off a mark of 90. He was then 5th of 23 in the Ayr Silver Cup on heavy before finding 6 furlongs too sharp back at Haydock. Upped to 7 furlongs again, he was 2nd of 11 at Doncaster on his final run off today’s mark of 93. He beat 5 of his 13 rivals in that Ptarmigan Ridge race on his reappearance but is expected to improve loads.
He’s not ideally drawn in 9 but there’s not loads of pace inside him so it’s conceivable he could tack across and get a good position. The O’Meara stable could not be in better form with his last 4 runners all winning including all 3 he’s sent to the Chester meeting. Danny Tudhope was on board for the 3 Chester winners and takes this ride too. Their success is not limited to Chester with him combining for 7 winners from just 14 runners in May so far.
Back Cold Stare (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 11.00 William Hill BOG (¼ odds 1-4)
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Another Class 2 handicap, this time over a mile and a quarter with 12 runners going to post.
By contrast, this looks to be a race full of pace and it’s hard to know what’s going to lead. It would be no surprise to see this set up for a closer.
Epaulement is one of the market leaders and is a horse that likes to lead. He’s won 2 of his last 3 including his only start this term. He’s up a lenient 3lbs but he’s a big horse that may struggle on this tight track whilst the ground is an unknown.
Frankuus is a strange one. He’s shown nothing for almost 2 years but was then 2nd on his reappearance. The question marks are whether he’ll repeat that run and whether he’ll face the same trouble he had in the stalls at the meeting 12 months ago.
The other horse currently vying for favouritism is Sputnik Planum who is 2 from 2 for Mick Appleby and has De Sousa on board. However, he’s up 7lbs and has a full year’s absence to overcome.
At a bigger price, the chances of Dukhan should not be underestimated. A relatively lightly raced 4 year old, his form is better than it first seems. On his reappearance last term, he was in receipt of 7lbs from Old Persian and only went down by a head, pulling 3 lengths clear of the 3rd horse home. He would have won too had he not raced as keenly. Considering our horse is rated 94 here whilst Old Persian is a full 28lbs higher in the rating (off 122), it could be argued the selection is very well in here.
Before getting carried away, he then faced firm ground 5 times on the spin and never came close to backing up that run. However, he then raced good to soft ground for the first time and beat Chatez off a mark of 89. This is the Chatez that was raised 3lbs for that run and duly won the Spring Cup at Newbury next time out.
The selection is up 5lbs to 94 and raced off that mark on his reappearance at Pontefract where he went off the 11/10 favourite. He finished 6th of 7 but it can be ignored given the slow pace and the firm ground.
The mount of James Doyle, he’ll surely step up now he encounters the softest ground he’s faced to date and given the likely strong pace. 9/1 looks a very fair price provided he can get a decent early position.
Back Dukhan (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 10.00 Boylesports BOG (¼ odds 1-3)
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Many people’s highlight of the week comes in the shape of the 2 and a quarter mile Chester Cup handicap.
There’s always a big field (17 go here) and, despite the distance, a lowish draw and a good early position is crucial as you don’t want to be racing 3 or 4 deep around this ever turning track.
Those from the inside 4 stalls all like to be held up and whilst they may have to adopt a different running style, it’s not easy to have any confidence. The one with the most obvious chance is drawn in 5 and that’s the favourite Austrian School. He’s the one most expect will make the running and he could easily make all here having trotted up by 6 lengths at Musselburgh last month. He’s only 3lbs higher here and could progress onto bigger things this season but 7/2 is too short to be getting properly involved.
Jumps trainers have a good record in this and Willie Mullins saddles 2. Low Sun is the mount of Ryan Moore but faces an uphill task with the widest draw of all in stall 17.
However, the chances of his other runner, Whiskey Sour ridden by Andrea Atzeni is there for all to see. This horse loves a big field and is an excellent and often well fancied dual purpose horse.
He was favourite for the Ascot Stakes Handicap last summer when 5th of 19 behind Lagostovegas on ground too quick and this year he’s been seen twice over hurdles where he was 4th of 24 when favourite in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham and then 2nd at Cork.
This horse loves a tight track almost as much as he loves soft ground. He’s won 4 times on the flat, 3 of those coming at the tight Irish track of Galway whilst the same number, 3 of those wins, have come on genuinely soft ground.
He’s drawn in 7 and should be ok to get across early to grab a decent early position. With the track likely to suit, the ground perfect, the draw more than ok and the liking for a big field, he will surely be difficult to keep out of the frame.
PLACED – Back Whiskey Sour (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 10.00 Betway BOG (⅕ odds 1-5)