Chester May Meeting Day 3 Preview, Tips
It's been a pretty special first two days. Wednesday's 14/1 and 28/1 winners were supplemented with a 590/1 four-timer across the four Channel 4 races yesterday. It becomes increasingly unlikely that we can replicate that level of form, and in truth I'd be delighted to get out level on day three, guaranteeing a juicy profit on the week. This is betting, not alchemy, after all!
The going is now soft, and there could be further light showers. The running rail has been moved out a little meaning race distances are about twenty to forty yards longer than advertised. If your fancy gets nutted on the line, there's your ready-made excuse!
Time is of the essence again today, I'm afraid, so it's a whirlwind preview, beginning with the...
1.45 7 1/2f Handicap
A competitive handicap to start us off, and the logical starting place is with the stall one runner, Here Comes When. Lightly raced, he won a course, distance and class handicap at this meeting last year so we know the race conditions suit. He should also get a tow into the race from Big Johnny D in trap two, but the imponderable is the ground. Here Comes When has never raced on soft, and his winning form has been on good or quicker. At the prices, I'm inclined to look elsewhere, though he'll be a strong player if he acts on the ground.
One who definitely will go in the soft is Pintura. He's placed eight times from ten soft ground starts, and won this race two years ago when it was run on soft. He's six pounds below his last winning mark, and with the benefit a run (which was "badly needed" according to his trainer) he looks a very tempting each way prospect at around 8/1, despite a high enough draw in nine.
And if the aforementioned Big Johnny D gets loose on the lead he could stay there until late in the play. Those extra 24 yards due to the moved running rail won't help his cause, however, and he may need an oxygen tank to fend off late challengers, principally Pintura with luck.
2.15 Dee Stakes
This was won last year by Magician, who subsequently conjured up Group/Grade 1 wins in the Irish 2000 Guineas and Breeders Cup Turf. The same firm, Ballydoyle, are double handed this year with Ryan Moore aboard Century and Joseph O'Brien on Kingfisher.
Century won his maiden in a big field at the Curragh on debut, but then ran a clunker in the Racing Post Trophy when a 6/1 chance. That was clearly not his running but, equally, he now has something to prove with the form of that maiden not working out terribly well so far (just three winners from 27 subsequent starters).
Kingfisher is much more exposed, having had five runs already. He too has just a maiden win to his name, but has beaten just four horses in three runs since. That they were all in Group races is commendable but, all the same, he hardly comes here with an upwardly mobile profile.
Somewhat sets the standard on ratings, his 109 being the best in the field. That is equal to or better than the rating of any winner since African Dream (a 2/5 chance when taking this in 2004), and his season opening fifth in the Feilden Stakes looks solid enough. He has less scope than many but has achieved more than some of these ever will. He looks reliable in the context of the top of the market, though the ground might be soft enough, and I'm still looking for a bet in the race.
His stablemate Bow Creek has no such going concerns and is the second highest rated in the field. Like Somewhat he has limited upside scope, but again like Somewhat he's achieved more than some can hope to. He might get an easy lead here, and if he can keep rolling - not certain on breeding - he'll go very close.
The bottom one, Randwick, is most interesting of the outsiders. He's had just one run - eighth of fifteen in a Nemarket maiden - and is pitched into Listed company from there. By High Chapparal out of a Darshaan mare, he's bred to get every yard of this, and should be fine on a soft surface. It's a pity Sloane Avenue has come out, leaving just two places to go at, but the 7/2 on Betfair's place market (three places) offer mild appeal in a weak-looking affair.
This is a very messy race, and not at all one to be bullish about. In the circumstances, a tiny play - win and place - on Randwick could yield a dividend. He's 20/1 with a few firms this morning for the win, and as I say, you'll get an extra place (and a shorter price) if betting place on Betfair.
2.45 Ormonde Stakes
A six runner field overnight, we're already down to four with the withdrawals of Ernest Hemingway and Mount Athos. The remaining quartet are quite classy, mind, with two Group 2 winners in the field.
This is almost a mile and three quarters, and it might be that the pace setter gets first run on his rivals. The trailblazer is likely to be Jathabah, a daughter of Singspiel whose best form is over a trip. Her best form is also a stone and more behind her main rivals, and though she will get first run, she ought to cede to better horses.
Those better horses are Brown Panther and Hillstar. The former is famously owned by Michael Owen (yawn) and has won on soft. Trained by local handler, Tom Dascombe, he looks sure to be revved up for this and will take some beating.
Main form rival is Hillstar, but his two runs on soft were a clunker, albeit in the Group 1 Champion Stakes where, despite breeding suggesting otherwise, the trip may have been on the short side; and in a seven furlong maiden. Jockey Ryan Moore believes the soft ground is in his favour, and he's better placed to make such comments than me, but there is no racetrack evidence to add ballast to his comments, a maiden win aside.
The other runner, Banoffee, won at this meeting last year on good to firm. She was then a little disappointing when seventh in the Oaks and failed to sparkle in four subsequent runs last term. She also ran moderately in two Meydan spins early this year and, overall, has a flaky profile.
It looks like Brown Panther will track Jathabah and readily outpace that one in the finish, and it might be worth betting that the rag can hold on for the place. Hillstar, although a shade of odds on, is unappealing at the price. He'll win nice races this year, but I'd be a layer today.
3.15 5f Handicap
A sprint handicap over the minimum, and you'll know the drill by now. Inside draws and early pace hold sway generally. The geegeez pace analysis tab, sorted by draw, shows that the pace is mainly drawn wide, although in this shorter than normal field of seven, it's impact should be lessened.
Viva Verglas has the best of the post positions in trap one, and has made the running in the past. He may well have needed his first run of the year, and should be spot on today. His second on soft at Haydock shows he acts on muddy ground and that level of form would be good enough to win this. At 7/1 he's worth an interest for a stable that does very well with soft ground sprinters.
Ventura Mist may have been under-rated by the market here too. She's a smart filly and won the Redcar 2yo Trophy last year, netting her syndicate owners stacks of cash in the process. That was over six on good to firm, but she won her maiden on soft over five and might by played with a telling late burst.
It's a bugger's muddle of a race with the fancied horses - See The Sun and Blithe Spirit - poorly drawn and potentially looking to lock horns early. Moreover, Blithe Spirit has to show she acts on soft after two mid-division displays. See The Sun is consistent but from stall seven will need a fair amount to go his way and could get trapped out wide on that crucial first turn as they are released from the gates.
The Irish raider, Fine Cut, has won his last two, both over six on the poly at Dundalk. This is a very different test, and he surely wants further than these flying five, with ground an unknown and the trainer not being in spectacular form.
This might go the way of the top of the market, but there are plenty of reasons to look further down the lists, and I quite like Viva Verglas to bounce back, and Ventura Mist to plug on.
3.50 7f Handicap
A big field seven furlong handicap where, remarkably, so far they all stand their ground.[Note, since writing this, FOUR have come out! Ten still go at time of update, 10:44am] The two to take my eye, both on profile and pace, are the long absent Gabrial's Bounty and super-fit Verse Of Love.
The former has been off for nigh on two years, but has plenty of form in the soft. The booking of yesterday's hat-trick hero, Ryan Moore, is hardly a negative though and hints strongly towards the readiness of this fellow. He has form at the track, and is owned by Kaptain Koukash. As such, he's expected to be jobbed up to the eyeballs for this.
Verse Of Love has been busy already this season, having run no fewer than 14 times since the end of November! He's won one of his two soft ground excursions, and is drawn in four, with early pace to make use of it. He should track the leaders and remain on the premises at the death. Whether he's quite good enough to win, I'm not sure.
There's a lot of pace drawn middle to high - notable Dr Red Eye, Grissom, Gatepost and Skytrain - and it could get quite messy for nags caught in that speedy crossfire. For my shekels, I'll be avoiding the potential melee and staying low. To that end, a third possible is Related, ridden by O-Sheen Murphy. He's got a bit of form on heavy, drops in class here, and should get a nice pull into the business end with his stalking style and the three post. 12/1 is fair enough. [Note, Related is now a non-runner]
As ever in such races, there's every chance I've not mentioned the winner or over-stated the likelihood of shenanigans, but keeping it simple is generally a good move when betting and, in that context, Gabrial's Bounty gets the nod.
4.25 7f Fillies' Maiden
I honestly haven't got a clue and won't be betting except to try to sneak the placepot. Willie Haggas' newcomer is by Pivotal, so should love the distance and going. In a race where those to have run have achieved relatively little, it might be worth siding with a first time starter. So, for the purposes of completeness only, Tohaveandtohold is a most tentative of selections.
It might be worth noting that Barry Hills, Charles' father, won this race three times between 2004 and 2007. Hills Jr saddles Scillonian Sunset.
5.00 1m4f Handicap
And we close the Chester May Festival of 2014 with a mile and a half apprentice handicap. I'll be doing something else when this race is on, and I suggest you should be too, unless you want to watch to see if there are any rising stars riding. Chester's demands on the pilots mean that with a group of such inexperienced jockeys, it's akin to punting self-mutilation getting heavily involved here.
That said, the geegeez jockey form tells me that Jason Hart has a pretty good record at the track. He's one of my next gen jockeys to follow - as is Oisin Murphy, also legged up here - and Hart rides King Of Paradise. He's a front runner drawn two, which is ostensibly good. I write 'ostensibly' because the other solid pace angle in the race is Licence To Till, drawn one, meaning they could go hard - too hard - early.
The latter doesn't stay a mile and a half and certainly won't if gunned for the lead, in which case, King Of Paradise, who stays every yard of it, should lead at some point. Most of the King's winning form has been in smaller fields, though, so a couple of non-runners wouldn't hurt.
If it is a burn up, the pair that could stalk and pounce in the ground are Ultimate and Running Deer. The former is ridden by Megan Carberry, and she's looked quite stylish in winning three of her four races in the last fortnight. She has a chance to make it four from five here.
Running Deer is favoured, and has winning form on/in the ground, distance and class.
At the prices, I'm happy to nominate King Of Paradise and Ultimate each way, though I won't be betting the race.