City Day Preview, Stephen Wundke
Tomorrow marks the start of the Chester season. Three days of quality horses, running for big prize money on the unique Chester track. My task is to find you one or two horses in each race that will give you a great run for your money and the chance to get a good shout in, because for me that’s what racing is all about. If we make some money along the way then all the better. In flat racing terms this is very early in the season and working out collateral form lines is never easy, particularly on ground that is now Good to Soft and possible softer by the time racing starts. Excuses aside, this is how I think it pans out.
ICM STELLAR SPORTS LILY AGNES CONDITIONS STAKES (Class 2) (2yo) Winner £7,731 7 runners 5f15y
This is a real test for these inexperienced 2yo. Three horses stand out on what we have seen to date. They are, the three times raced Navello for the very in form George Boughey, who has put up good figures, is the most experienced and whilst he has the “gun draw” in stall 1 my worry is that he might not be quick enough to take advantage of it and may be looking at the backside of rivals playing catch up. The second is the one race, one win, Armor. He has a speedy pedigree and after a fast time in his only race he would be my tip if the rain hadn’t got into the ground. I’m not saying he won’t handle we just don’t know. My tip is the locally trained Devious Angel, who improved 11lbs from her first to second run and that run was on the deeper Southwell track, where gate speed and stamina are essential. I may well be wrong but Tom Dascombe’s horse looks the one to be with in the first. She’s drawn two and showed good speed out of the boxes at Southwell and if she does it again, she just might dictate the pace from the front and prove too good.
My Tip : 2 units e/w Devious Angel @ 11/4
WEATHERBYS EPASSPORT CHESHIRE OAKS (FOR THE ROBERT SANGSTER MEMORIAL CUP) (LISTED RACE) (FILLIES) (Class 1) (3yo) Winner £34,026 7 runners 1m3f75y
All seven of our fillies have an entry in the Oaks at Epsom in a few weeks time, so connections all believe they have the makings of a group horse. Normally we would look first at the O’Brien horses, La Joconde and Nicest for the winner but with both it looks more of a fact-finding mission than it does confirmation of their ability. Interestingly though both have produced an identical best figure, on heavy ground. Of the two Nicest appeals most and the extra four furlongs here may will bring out her best. On form to date Dubai Fountain is streets ahead and delivered, as a 3yo, a big figure on soft ground and may well be the one if she has grown and strengthened up from last year. This is her first run for 2021 but the Johnston stable don’t normally need a run to be fit. The money is for Zeyaadah, who is unbeaten in 3 runs and whilst she has a bit to find with Dubai Fountain, she looks a classy filly. Heavy ground over a mile at Newmarket last time out was no problem for her. Again, we would love to see how she has grown over the winter. I’m reluctant to rule out the well-bred Gosden runner, Darlectable You but she has a lot of improvement to find and she may be more of an Ascot horse.
My Tip : 2 units e/w Dubai Fountain @ 5/2
TOTE+ AT TOTE.CO.UK HANDICAP (Class 2) (3yo 0-105) Winner £10,308 8 runners 5f15y
The speedsters are on show here over the flying 5f, where they will touch 40mph going around corners, it’s a phenomenal test of speed and endurance and to think most horses do it on one breath from the time the gates open. Horses really are amazing. Gate speed will be important and with only 8 in the field you might just be able to get a jump on the field from the middle so I like the speedy Army of India, who I think could ping the lids and lead them a merry dance for Mark Johnston and Chester’s number one jockey, Franny Norton. I think Imperial Force, who has some Group Class, could give him most to do if he gets out and has an untroubled passage from stall 1, which isn’t guaranteed.
My Tips. 2 units e/w Army of India @4/1 ad 1 unit e/w Imperial Force @ 6/1
CHESTER VASE STAKES (GROUP 3) (COLTS & GELDINGS) (Class 1) (3yo) Winner £45,368 6 runners 1m4f63y
With this race having such a bearing on the Derby in the last 10 years, we will be watching closely to see how these colts fare. Just six go to post here and 4 have Derby entries and whilst the field number is small, none would surprise if they won. In order to feature in the Epsom Classic betting, you get the feeling we would need to see a top-class performance and I’m not sure who that is going to come from. My eye, on ratings, is drawn to the son of Kingman, Wirko but interestingly he doesn’t have a Derby entry and I guess him staying the Derby trip might be a question on pedigree, so perhaps this 10f journey may be a fact-finding mission for trainer Charlie Appelby, with a view to Ascot and the King Edward if he stays. He also has an entry in the Lingfield Derby trial over 2f further, next week, so if he won both, the Godolphin team wouldn’t be opposed to supplementing him. Either way he must be impressive at home. Perhaps the ground has gone against him now. Ignoring an Aiden O’Brien horse is always dangerous in this race but Sandhurst doesn’t strike me as a winner waiting to happen, now that view might be costly. Roger Charlton’s runner, Pleasant Man is interesting at a bigger price but I think I will stick with the ”experiment” Wirko and see if he can repeat his Epsom win, where he handled the tricky terrain which should help him here at Chester
My Tip – 2 units win Wirko @9/5
TOTE+ PAYS YOU MORE AT TOTE.CO.UK HANDICAP (Class 3) (3yo 0-95) Winner £6,185 11 runners 6f17y
Another duel for the 3yo speedsters, this time over 6f. With all of these horses only having turned 3 this year it really is the toughest race on the card. I will keep it brief and stakes low. But this is a good one for the future and I guarantee if we don’t back the winner, winners will come out of this race in the next couple of weeks. So set the video. For a shout let’s try, a man whose horses I haven’t tipped for at least 4 years, Brian Meehans entry, Tanfantic, who looked to win with a bit in hand at Lingfield and may be better than this mark and Richard Hannons runner, Good Listener for whom I predict a big handicap win shortly. It may be in this race but keep him on the right side, he still looked a little green when 2nd on his first run this year.
My Tips – 1 unit e/w Tanfantic @ 6/1 and 1 unit e/w Good Listener @ 6/1
BOODLES MAIDEN STAKES (PLUS 10 RACE) (Class 3) (3yo) Winner £6,185 10 runners 1m2f70y
If you were wondering if owning a racehorse was a rich man’s game, look no further than this race. There are three horses that interest me, Alfaadhel for Roger Varian, who missed the break badly on debut, recovered too quickly and then just faded close home. The extra trip should help him, he should improve and show a return on his £360,000 fee soon! The £600,000 yearling (yes that’s right), Kingsofthemidlands, for King Power racing who was promising on debut but must be capable of a whole lot better and by comparison the absolute steal of the bunch at £105,000, Immelman for the Crisfords, who again shaped well at Nottingham on debut. We are taking a lot on trust here as this track is so different but they will go a little slower over 10f than all of these did over shorter on their previous outings and it may be that after his run in the Wood Ditton, which is the best form on offer, that Kingsofthemidlands proves too good for Andrew Blading and Silvester DeSouza and pays back 1% of his purchase fee with his winnings.
My Tip : 2 units win Kingsofthemidlands
DEEPBRIDGE ESTATE PLANNING SERVICE HANDICAP (Class 4) (4yo+ 0-85) Winner £5,154 14 runners 7f1y
Tough race to make any losses back if things haven’t gone well, as they go co-favourites of four at 6/1 as I look at the early market prices. Class act, Sir Maximilian showed he stayed 7f when winning here off 5lbs higher last year and he may well have just needed his comeback run to put him cherry ripe for this race on his latest, although at 12 years of age his best runs may well be behind him but I think he might just like the way this race sets up. He has Franny Norton on board and he is drawn well in 2. I fear the ground has gone against Rathbone but I did like him earlier in the week. My second fancy against the field is Lincoln Park, who despite the draw of 11 has the extremely talented Richard Kingscote in the saddle and if Franny Norton isn’t the best around Chester then he is. He will of course need all his undoubted skill and more than a bit of luck to get this one home. I think he will give it a good go.
My Tips 1 unit e./w Sir Maximillian @ 6/1 and 1 unit e/w Lincoln Park @ 6/1