While raceday fashions are a big part of the second day of the Boodles May Festival, the Ormonde and Dee Stakes are the highlights on the track and the Class 1 races have developed a high-class roll of honour over the years.
Following on from Wednesday’s Chester Vase, the Dee Stakes is also a recognised trial for the Derby although it is run over the shorter distance of one mile, two furlongs and seventy yards. Named after the river which runs alongside the racecourse, the race was established in 1813 and was originally open to both colts and fillies. The most recent winners who went on to be successful in the Derby are the Sir Henry Cecil-trained Oath who competed the double in 1999, followed by Kris Kin for Sir Michael Stoute in 2003.
The leading trainer in the Dee Stakes is Barry Hills who recorded a fantastic eleven winners of the race, while Aidan O’Brien has dominated things of late. The master Irish-trainer has won the Listed contest eight times since 2005, including the last three runnings. His most recent winner of the Dee Stakes actually fits an unusual profile as Circus Maximus was subsequently dropped back in distance to become a top-class miler, going on to win three times at the highest level over the shorter distance.
The Ormonde Stakes is one for the staying horses as it is run over a distance of one mile and five and a half furlongs. The naming of the Group 3 race can be traced back to 1886, which was when the Chester race crowd witnessed the unbeaten Ormonde, a colt bred in Cheshire, gaining success on the Roodee. He went on to win the Triple Crown of Classic races at Newmarket, Epsom and Doncaster during his three-year-old season and he would remain unbeaten through his 16-race career.
Two other famous horses on the Ormonde roll of honour include two Derby winners, Blakeney and Teenoso, who were successful at Chester as four-year-olds in 1970 and 1984. The latter, trained by Geoff Wragg and ridden by Pat Eddery on the Roodee, would go on to success in the King George at Ascot later that year. Only three horses have won the race twice – Sovrango won back-to-back
renewals in 1962 and 1963 before Clive Brittain’s Shambo repeated the feat some forty years later. The last dual-winner of the race was the Geoff Wragg-trained St Expedit who landed the race in 2001 and 2002.
In more recent times, the Ormonde has been won by a number of high-class horses in the last ten renewals. Sir Michael Stoute is renowned for his patient approach with his older horses and he has landed the race a record six times, including with Harbinger in 2010 and a success for Her Majesty The Queen with Dartmouth in 2016, while other winners to note include the Aidan O’Brien-trained Sir Nicholas Abbey in 2011 and the popular success of Brown Panther for local trainer Tom Dascombe in 2014.