Chester racecourse is one of the more unique tracks around the country and unveiled a fancy new weighroom this week. The track is often used by Aidan O’Brien to test the balance of his Oaks & Derby hopefuls. If it’s good enough for Aidan, it’s good enough for me.
The meeting kicks off on Wednesday with the Group 3 Chester Vase as the feature on the opening day of the festival. It is a week to look forward to with an eye on some of the bigger races later in the year.
Lily Agnes Conditions Stakes
Richard Fahey has been firing in the winners of late and looks to have another strong chance of a winner with Show Me Show Me here who won well on debut at Doncaster. He showed a very good attitude there and should progress from that.
Great Dame who gets a nice bit of weight from Show Me Show Me, who won really well at Ripon most recently. This was a marked step up from what she had shown on debut and if she finds the same amount of improvement then she’ll take all the beating.
Archie Watson has been going from strength to strength with his horses in recent seasons with two-year-olds being is bread and butter. Archie looks to have another nice type with Electric Ladyland who’s won both her career starts thus far. The only concern I have is that both those wins came on the all-weather and she needs to prove herself on turf.
In general, Brian Meehan’s horses improve from their first run and I’d be expecting Top Buck to progress from his runner-up finish on debut and with Oisin Murphy in the plate, he could be the answer here.
Selection: Top Buck
This race is often used as a trial for the Epsom Oaks with the last filly to do the double being Enable. Aidan O’Brien has won three of the last four runnings of the Cheshire Oaks and he is solely represented by Secret Thoughts this year. She was Group 3 placed last season and ran well on seasonal debut behind Lady Kaya who didn’t let the form down when she finished runner-up in the 1000 Guineas on Sunday. I’m not convinced she wants this step up in trip on pedigree but Aidan wouldn’t be running her if he didn’t think she’d stay.
Ralph Beckett does particularly well with fillies and runs the unbeaten Manuela De Vega who looked good when winning a listed race over a mile when last seen. She should get the trip well and will be difficult to beat,
John Gosden and Frankie teamed up to win this with Enable back in 2017 and they will try to repeat the feat with Fanny Logan who broke her maiden only ten days ago. She looked good that day and although she needs to improve if she is to feature here and I see no reason why she can’t.
Of the remainder Grace And Dragon won well on her only start at Nottingham ad with Oisin Murphy in the saddle, she’s an interesting contender.
Selection: Manuela De Vega
Course form is very important when it comes to Chester and although this is a three-year-old only handicap some of these have course winning form. She Can Boogie has course form of “213” and represents the Tom Dascombe yard who always target this meeting with their runners. A slight concern is that she needed her seasonal debut last season but if fit enough she should go close.
Leodis Dream comes into the race chasing a five-timer and he’s actually only been beaten once in his career thus far. He seems to just do enough to win each time which means his mark isn’t crazy and with his running style very much favourable around here, he’s the one to beat.
Another horse coming here in great form is Top Breeze for the Richard Hughes yard. He looked good on his first start on turf at Newmarket and is a horse worth following.
Angel Alexander comes into this race as a maiden with fro figures of “222” to his name but with a recent gelding operation likely to bring about improvement he shouldn’t be underestimated.
Selection: Leodis dream
Aidan O’Brien has farmed this race in recent years having won five of the last six renewals. So it’s not surprising that he runs three of the seven runners here with Norway, Sir Dragonet and Gentile Bellini all representing the master of Ballydoyle. All three have quite different profiles with Norway the class act having finished fourth in a Group 1 at Saint-Cloud on his final start last season and it’s not surprising that he’s the choice of Ryan Moore.
Sir Dragonet was pretty easy to back on debut at Tipperary but he proved to be a very easy winner. He’s bred to be a nice staying type and it will be very interesting to see how he fares here. It’s slightly disappointing that it’s taken Gentile Bellini three starts to get his head in front given his flawless pedigree being by Dubawi out of Sky Lantern. He should be a nice Group horse going forward is well worth keeping an eye on.
King Ottokar looks likely to start favourite and was thought good enough to run in the Futurity on just his second start last season. He began the current campaign with a nice win in a condition race at Newbury. He’s got lots of potential and should be very competitive.
The horse I like in here is Technician who is improving at a rapid rate having won his maiden at the beginning of last month he then went on to finish runner-up in the Sandown Classic Trial. Oisin Murphy was short of room at a crucial point that day and with a clearer run, I expect him to go very close.