Good morning all,
Last day of Chester and more rain yesterday made it even more testing. Expect a few more non-runners as the day goes on. My thoughts on the TV races on the main piece.
1.50 – 7½f Handicap
A car park draw is going to make it almost impossible for the likes of Love Dreams and Arcanada (update – non-runner), which is a shame as both have claims in this. But drawns of 16 and 12 respectively are more than enough to put me off, I’m afraid.
You have to say that Ptarmigan Ridge has an awful lot going for him here. A C& (almost) D winner last September, he looked as good as he’s always done on his first run for his new trainer, Richard Hughes, at Haydock last time out. Maybe David Egan went a touch too soon there but even so, it was still a good run to be second. Drawn 2, he’ll have Sha La La La Lee to give him a tow into the race from stall 1, the ground will be ideal, and he must be on the premises at the business end.
2.25 – Huxley Stakes (1m2½f, Group 2)
Matterhorn is a much improved performer and thrashed a possibly below-par Wissahickon on Good Friday at Lingfield, but the question will be whether he can reproduce his improvement back on turf, and rain-softened turf at that. If he can, he’s the likely winner, but at 7-4 I can pass the opportunity up with some ease. Addeybb, second in the betting at 5-2, won’t mind the ground but isn’t fully proven at the trip, and again, is easy enough to give the elbow to.
On better ground Chief Ironside might have been worth a small bet, as he’s a C&D winner that improved throughout last year, and might try to lead these start to finish. If it keeps drying, that will help him, but it’ll also help last year’s winner Forest Ranger, who is following the same pattern as last year (Earl Of Sefton to here) and given how well he ran at Newmarket, will be primed for this. I might try a bit on Chief Ironside and a small rev fcst the pair, but a race for very small stakes.
3.00 – 1m 2½f Handicap
I’m amazed to see a horse with the basic talent that Banksea has put in at 66-1 here, but it’s his first run for his new yard and he may well be one for another day. Possibly York, where he’s gone well before? Stick him in trackers and see how he gets on here.
Not hard to see the claims of Frankuus here, given that David O’Meara has his Chester team in top nick, and for a front runner, stall 2 looks a right bonus. He handles all ground too, so won’t mind any further rain, and all looks in place for a big run.
What are the alternatives? Gossip Column flew around these bends to win last August and is only 3lb higher here, and again, for a front runner, stall 6 wouldn’t be the worst place to be. But he probably does need it to dry and although he’ll strip fitter for a recent run, he did finish last and maybe he’s not ready to win yet.
Aasheq is another C&D winner that will handle the ground but stall 10 could blunt his chances unless he can ping the gates and get a decent position. And the worry is that the prominent runners are mainly drawn low-middle, so he’s likely to be parked out wide. When all is said and done, you come back to Frankuus, so he’ll do for me.
3.35 – Chester Cup
Sorry to say it, as I do like to try and find something at a big price, but the claims of the favourite, Austrian School, do jump out at you here.
He hosed up at Musselburgh with the minimum of fuss and only gets a 3lb penalty for that. Ever since I saw him win at Pontefract last year, where all he did was gallop, you knew that staying trips would probably be his thing. Not only that, he looks one of only a couple of pace angles in the race, and has been lucky enough to pull stall 5 out of the bag. If he stays – and I think he will – he’ll have a good chance of making all. I don't think the ground will be any issue (has wins on good to soft and soft) and he may take some beating.
The worry with second favourite Cleonte will be the ground, with his best form coming on quicker. It'll not bother Whisky Sour though, and he looks a big danger on the best of his form. Stall 7 is far from a disaster and he should be thereabouts too.
At a bigger price, Time To Study, who went off favourite for this last year, is definitely worth consideration. Now with Ian Williams, he ran fifth in this last time around, staying on late, and the soft ground here can only help (one wins and four placed efforts from five starts on soft/heavy). Stall 13 isn't ideal, but he's had a break and the cheekpieces are removed, which is good as I'm not sure he needs them. Not without hope at 20-1, I'd say.
Today's selection – Frankuus 3.00 Chester
Good luck with all your bets today,