An ultra-competitive handicap to kick off a day that looks chockablock full of those types of contests. Brentford Hope was supremely impressive when winning at Haydock when last seen, and while the form of that race has given off mixed signals since, he’s the one they have to beat on his seasonal reappearance.
The value in the contest, though, may lie with Revich. He put up back-to-back successes here last season, over this sort of trip, beating a number of course specialists in the process. He arrives here just 4lb higher in the handicap than for the second of those triumphs. He’s run a cracker in the Lincoln and the Spring Mile over a mile this season, and has to be taken seriously back in trip.
A cracking renewal of the Huxley Stakes where you’d say that Bangkok and Palavecino were value if you could guarantee they would bring their all-weather form to the turf. Sangarius is one we know is a class performer on both surfaces, landing black type over this trip at Lingfield and Ascot.
However, preference is for Aidan O’Brien’s Armory on the back of his form last season. He almost landed the Cox Plate on his final start in 2020, only to be collared late, that run coming after finishing third in the Irish Champion Stakes. He was within 2l of Magical and Ghaiyyath that day, a formline that far surpasses anything the rest of these can throw up. If he’s just as good at four, he might take some stopping.
The feature of the week, and as you would expert, it looks fiendishly difficult. Not So Sleepy will be dangerous if he’s let loose on the front-end, as there’s no guarantee he’ll stop when the field make their challenge, while thrice placed in the race, Who Dares Wins would be one to hang your hat on to run a solid race.
Ralph Beckett has expressed that the Tote Chester Cup has been a long term plan for his runner, Future Investment. A winner here over 2m last season, he found things happening a bit quickly in the Old Borough Cup, but still pulled out plenty to finish sixth. Put a line through his run in the Cesarewitch and he looks a top candidate for the race, especially with the ground softening this week.
El Astronaute has been a fabulous horse for connections, and looks to have the perfect opportunity to add another win to his CV. John Quinn’s chestnut has to give 3lb to his rivals here, but even then, he’s clear on official ratings. Once he gets in front, it’s hard for them to pass him, and having demonstrated how good he can be when landing the Listed Achilles Stakes last year, the rest have some way to go to match him.
Back in trip and down in class, Karl Burke’s Ainsdale might be the one to chase him home having faded late over 6f in the Cammidge Trophy on his seasonal reappearance.
Restorer clearly enjoys his trips to the Roodee with form figures of 14221 at Chester, the latest victory for Ian Williams’ grey coming on his last outing, back in September. He showed real determination to overhaul Lawn Ranger that day, to get up by a short head.
At 4lb worse off at the weights, he’s got his work cut out to overcome his victim that day. Lawn Ranger arrives here hard fit after returning in a hot-handicap on the all-weather at Kempton, finishing fifth behind Al Zaraqaan and Almighwar, two horses who look likely to win black type in their career. He was a narrow course and distance winner off Friday’s mark of 90 last season, so looks weighted to reverse the form with Restorer and might just have too much for the rest.
The consolation race for the Tote Chester Cup has a couple of very interesting 4yos taking part in the form of Postileo and Frankenstella. The former has just five runs under his belt, but has looked classy on all of them. His form stacks up, but this handicap mark doesn’t give him much wiggle room. Frankenstella ended her 3yo season with three wins in her last four outings, and might just step up on her seasonal reappearance.
The pick for the race, though, is Elysian Flame. A decent performer on the flat previously for Mick Easterby, he developed into a very novice hurdler over the winter, in the frame on all four outings. He returned to the flat in excellent style, beating long-time Chester Cup fancy Almighwar a neck at Newbury. Under a 3lb penalty he might be hard to stop.
Dr Marwan Koukash might just have the one-two in the final race of the Chester May Festival, with his duo likely to be right at the head of affairs. G For Gabrial hasn’t hung around this season, with four runs on the turf already. He rarely runs a bad race, finishing in the first three on 10 of his last 15 runs, though any rain will be an inconvenience for him.
This step back up in trip looks to be just the ticket for Heart Of Soul, who couldn’t quite quicken over shorter last time out. His two previous runs before that came over course and distance where he recorded a win and a second. The horse that beat him won next time out to give the form a nice boost, and gives Ian Williams’ charge a chance of winning from 1lb higher in the weights.