2014 Chester Vase Day Preview and Tips
Slightly less time on my hands from which to share my thoughts today, and there's barely time to mention yesterday's 12/1 advised winner (returned 10/1, backable at 14/1), Suegioo, in the Chester Cup... or the 28/1 advised winner (returned 16/1, backable at 33/1), Adina, in the Cheshire Oaks! Or the 6.4 lines of the placepot worth £439.68 to advised stakes.
Barely, but just about enough time to mention them! 😉
The going for Thursday is good to soft after 2mm of rain overnight, and the forecast is for showers all day, which could amount to another 4-5mm of the wet stuff. Look for horses that like good to soft, but ideally have shown form on softer.
Do look out for the non-runner count too, if you're betting each way or placepot.
And keep in mind that the Betfair Sportsbook is offering money back on all races if Ryan Moore rides the winner. He's a great set of rides today (again), so if you think he's the danger to your selection, that's probably the place to bet.
1.45 Handicap 1m2f 75yds
A pretty high class event, with two of the runners - Wigmore Hall and Yeager - having competed in Graded races at Arlington in USA. Here in Blighty, top weight Wigmore Hall has been contesting pattern class races, so this represents a step down in class. And although he's not won in UK since 2010, he has bagged a Meydan Group 2 and the same Woodbine Grade 1 (Northern Dancer Stakes) in both 2011 and 2012.
This is Wigmore Hall's first run of the season and he may need it. Moreover, his talent has earned him a big weight, and no horse had shouldered more than 9-01 to win this in the past decade.
Against him, I quite like the look of Irish raider That's Plenty. He's a versatile horse as regards trip and ground, having won or been second from seven furlongs to a mile and three, and on standard, good to firm and heavy. He's up six pounds for a win the last day at Musselburgh, and should have come on for that. Well drawn and with a prominent running style, That's Plenty will offer his supporters a run for their money.
The other obvious pace elements are Sennockian Star and Anaconda, both drawn very high. Whether they can get towards the rail from their car park stalls is debatable, and that might help the likes of Tres Coronas, a hold up horse, to get a playable pitch. He's well suited to a bit of give, and has been first and second in ten furlong handicaps at this meeting the last two years.
Donald McCain won this race in 2007 and 2012, and he loves a winner at Chester almost as much as Marwan Koukash. Funny then that his entry today, Gabrial The Great, used to be owned - as the name suggests - by the Doctor. Fitness has to be taken on trust to some degree - he's been off since December with a mild bout of colic - but the trainer is in decent form, and the horse knows his way home round here (second at this meeting in 2012).
It's wide open really, as 6/1 the field implies, and I'll limp in with That's Plenty and Tres Coronas against the field.
Betfred will give you your money back if your selection finishes second to the favourite in this race.
2.15 Huxley Stakes (Group 3)
Run over the same extended ten furlongs as the opening handicap, this Group 3 has been won by Sir Michael Stoute five times this century, from ten runners. Sir Michael saddles the long-time hype horse, Telescope, today, and he should be cherry ripe after a distant second to Noble Mission on his seasonal reappearance.
However, Noble Mission re-opposes in this and was nine lengths superior to Telescope when they met at Sandown in the Gordon Richards Stakes. Even accounting for the winner that day holding a fitness edge, nine lengths is a lot to make up, especially when Telescope will be unlikely to appreciate the rain that has fallen overnight.
The joint best horse at the weights is Ektihaam, but this fellow is having his first run of the season and has yet to win above Listed class. He might lead the field into the straight, but whether he has enough fitness to hold off the challengers is another question. Of the trio at the top of the market, Noble Mission does look the obvious choice.
Further down the lists, Luca Cumani runs Danadana and it's surely a good sign that he's bemoaning the five pound penalty the horse receives as a result of winning a Listed race in Turkey. It was a great Kieren Fallon ride to get the horse home last year, but Messrs Cumani and Fallon have had their disagreements since, and the excellent Andrea Atzeni - a jockey to follow if you're not already - takes over.
He's every bit as good a horseman as Fallon, though not so experienced, but he does know Chester and he's in flying form just now (11 wins from 51 rides in the last fortnight, for a level stakes profit of £54.13, the geegeez racecards tell me. Incidentally, they tell me pretty much all of the other information I've imparted in this post!)
Perhaps the most interesting horse in the race is Marco Botti's Edu Querido. He's having his first start in Britain, having last been seen in a Group 1 in Meydan, where he was beaten less than five lengths. He's rated 108, which gives him a few pounds to find with the pick of these, but this does represent a drop in class, and if ridden more prominently he might run better than his 33/1 odds.
Overall, I think Noble Mission has a more compelling profile than either of Telescope and Ektihaam, though the last named might get the run of the race. At bigger prices, last year's winner Danadana should again run well despite the penalty, and Edu Querido is one to watch.
2.45 Chester Vase (Group 3)
A Derby trial, which was won by subsequent Epsom scorer, Ruler Of The World, last year in handsome fashion. If Sir Michael Stoute is the guv'nor in the Huxley Stakes in recent years, then Aidan O'Brien is the boss here. His nine runners since 2007 have yielded four winners, and this time he's double handed.
Joseph O'Brien is presumed to be on the first string, Carlo Bugatti, with Ryan Moore taking the 'spare' on Orchestra. The market cannot separate them, both available at 7/2, and it's worth noting that Moore has won this race in two of the last three years for O'Brien. Orchestra comes here after winning a Tipperary maiden, and is all about potential rather than form in the book.
That's true for most of the field, including stable mate Carlo Bugatti. He was disappointing when only fourth in a Navan Group 3 but wasn't given a tough time of it and is expecting to be much fitter here. Of the pair, I slightly prefer Orchestra, for the facts that he remains unexposed and he has Moore doing the steering (no disrespect intended to the very capable Joseph O'Brien).
Johnny G runs Romsdal, a runaway Kempton maiden winner on his last start. At that time, everything Gosden ran was winning, and now the wheel has turned, with the trainer in poor (relatively) form. Indeed, his five winners from 30 runners in the last fortnight equates to a -£19.49 ROI. Romsdal is another with plenty of upside but I'd not be in a rush to back a Johnny G horse just now.
One I'm looking forward to watching is Stars Over The Sea. As his name implies, he's a son of Sea The Stars, and his dad had two winners at the track yesterday, when both Adina and Prince Of The Stars prevailed. It looks very much like his progeny will improve with age, with his 3yo's batting at 21%, versus 14% for his juveniles. It's worth noting that both age groups have so far been blindly profitable to back, and Sea The Stars will surely not have to wait too long for his first Classic winner. Great racehorse, great stallion prospect.
It's a bit of a guesswork race, but the team with the most options is always Ballydoyle, and Orchestra gets the nod on that basis.
3.15 7f 122yds Handicap
A seven and a half furlong handicap for three-year-olds only. I've placed on record my dislike of 3yo handicaps, and so my advice is to be taken with at least caution. The favourite, Mark Johnston's Muteela, is a good place to start. Despite being drawn wide, Johnston is quoted in today's Racing Post as saying, "I'd be hopeful she's better than a mark of 87 and we would like to think she can progress up the ranks".
Her issue is the draw, as she's led on both her runs to date - both wins - and there does look to be plenty of pace inside her. One that catches the eye is the Martyn Meade-trained Legend Rising. He ran a nice race at Yarmouth last time, and the booking of that man Moore looks material. He's two from two on good to soft, is well drawn, and will surely come on a bundle for that pipe opener at the seaside. He's more exposed than almost all of the rest of the field, but has proven he can handle conditions.
I could mention another three or four and not find the winner, so I'll stick with Legend Rising as a token each way suggestion.
3.50 5f Maiden
This is a big field sprint maiden, and gate speed will be crucial. It's actually a really tough test for such inexperienced horses, and they'll need anticipation, balance and lots of zip to get the job done.
Ballymore Castle is a shade of odds on after showing both anticipation and zip on his Newbury debut. That straight five is a lot less testing from a balance perspective than this cambered arc, though, and at the price he might be opposable. With what is something of a moot point, however.
A couple that have achieved less to date but look speedy early types, are Hell Of A Lord and Come Uppence. That they represent leading early season juvenile trainers Bill Turner and David Evans is further grist to the mill of their claims, and both have speed to burn. Come Uppence gets the one stall, just inside Ballymore Castle, and could lead from there. Hell Of A Lord is in seven, which won't be easy, but yesterday's sprints went to the quickest breakers rather than the inside draws necessarily.
With the easing ground, I'd expect stamina to come into play more and, thus, a good draw can make for a ground-saving trip. As such, I think I'm settling on Come Uppence as a win/place alternative to the favourite, who does look pretty good on that first run but cannot be a bet at odds on.
4.25 6f Handicap
A six furlong handicap, and the same inside draw / early pace principles apply, albeit not quite so rigidly, as you might expect. Lexington Abbey, drawn eleven, is already a self-certificated non-runner having knocked himself in his box when he saw his double digit stall position!
That currently leaves a dozen speedsters, and those with the draw/pace combination are Jazz, Quickaswecan, and Pushkin Museum.
Jazz was a horse I followed in nurseries last season, with little success on my part it should be added, and he's not shown a huge amount in two runs this year to date, despite being favourite both times. He wasn't beaten that far last time but finished tamely on soft ground. It won't be much quicker today, and he looks short enough overall, despite being quite well favoured by conditions.
Quickaswecan is well enough named and, from trap two, could track Jazz and pounce in the lane. He's won on soft, so will handle whatever rain may fall, and was in front of Jazz when both were beaten by New Bidder at Pontefract a month ago. Further, Quickaswecan got a bit of a bump that day too, whereas Jazz had no such excuses. Franny Norton rides for Mark Johnston, and Norton is a peerless pilot on this piste.
Pushkin Museum looked a sprinter to follow over the winter as he racked up a pair of five furlong all weather wins in quick succession. His sole turf start to date is best forgotten as he was drawn on the wrong side. Nevertheless, he was stuffed out of sight and there remains the possibility that he doesn't handle turf. His US breeding does little to disarm that reservation. On balance, it wouldn't surprise me to see him run better, but at 9/1 or so he's not a big enough bargain to take the chance.
This is another of those three year old handicaps where I don't feel I have a strong enough handle to offer confident advice. However, with the race profile in mind and with most of them looking at least reasonably exposed, I'd be looking for a decent run from Quickaswecan. Jazz should again be on the premises.
Betbright will give you your money back if your horse finishes second in this race.
5.00 1m2f 75yds Handicap
A big field and some big-priced winners in the recent past. 50/1 and 25/1 twice have bagged this since 2007, so don't be afraid to tilt at an out of form windmill.
Halfsin might be the sort to go well at double digit odds. He's drawn in three, and has the pace to take advantage of it, and he loves the soft side of good. Owned by Dr Koukash, he'll have been plotted up for today, and yesterday's readers will know of my affection for trainer, Marco Botti - winner of the Chester Cup with another Koukash Klub member, Suegioo.
Halfsin is back to his last winning mark of 85, and has won off as high as 88. In short, he looks cracking value at 20/1 with BetVictor.
It's a wide open contest, and I could make a case of sorts for all of them. But at the prices, Halfsin looks clear best value. I think he should be around half those 20/1 odds.
And finally, if you're looking to play up your winnings - or recoup your losses - Betbright are refunding all bets if your selection finishes second by a head or less at Newton Abbot this afternoon. If you're betting at that meeting anyway, it's a very good concession.