A crowd of more than 11,000 racegoers ensured that the atmosphere was lively for the 2023 Autumn Festival Saturday fixture at Chester Racecourse. A competitive seven-race card on the books, the feature races came in the ITV televised Tote Stand Cup (Listed) at 2:05pm, and the Camden Hells Handicap (Class 2) at 2:40pm. The going remained Good To Soft (Soft in Places) throughout.


Race 1 – Tote Stand Cup Stakes (Listed Race) (Class 1, 3yo+, 1m 4 ½f)

On his first run back in the UK having had an unsuccessful stint in the Middle East, Al Qareem (17/2) rallied strongly in the first race of the day to overturn the short-priced Bluestocking (8/11F) by a neck, ridden out to make sure by Sam James for winning trainer Karl Burke. Alert out of the gates and keen to get a good position, Al Qareem raced prominently through the opening furlong of the contest, the field taken along by recent course winner Alba Longa (17/2) in the early stages as market leader Bluestocking raced slightly wide in mid-division. Coming towards the final 2 ½ furlongs as Alba Longa weakened away, Al Qareem moved on into a narrow lead, shaken up to maintain his position as the looming presence of Bluestocking became more apparent on the turn into the straight. Ridden along and edging ahead before the furlong marker, Bluestocking looked to be in prime position to reward favourite backers with the winning post now in sight, the majority of her opposition now struggling to keep up. However, fighting back determinedly and gathering momentum with every stride, Al Qareem wrestled back a narrow advantage half a furlong out, eventually running on strongly enough to see off Bluestocking a shade cosily at the line. A potent trainer/jockey combination, Burke and James have now successfully teamed up eight times since the start of the 2022 season for Listed class or better victories, including twice with smart filly Poptronic!


Race 2 – Camden Hells Handicap (Class 3, 4yo+, 1m 2 ½f)

Recording a remarkable fourth victory from just six starts at the track, Box To Box (13/2) showed once again the importance of previous Roodee experience, coming home 1 ¼ lengths clear at the line under David Probert for locally based trainer Hugo Palmer in Race 2. Breaking smartly from a wide stall and sweeping around the field at the end of a furlong to race prominently, Box To Box took the early advantage through the opening mile, maintaining a slender lead over Sweet Reward (8/1) down the far side of the track, the pair stalked all the while by recent course winner First Impression (4/1F) and the always consistent Arthur’s Realm (6/1). Still apparently in cruise control with just under three furlongs to race, Box To Box hugged the inside rail around the home turn and quickly established a more commanding lead upon entering the straight. With Sweet Reward quickly fizzling out of the equation, First Impression looked to be the only real danger to the leader with a furlong to go, staying on for pressure down the centre of the track in an attempt to reduce the deficit. However, the bird had well and truly flown in the case of Box To Box, the four-time course victor now marching on resolutely in the closing stages to notch a fifth Roodee victory in fine style; First Impression plugged on for second ahead of Arthur’s Realm in third. Enjoying another solid season, David Probert also rode a Listed winner here in July aboard Holguin in the City Plate Stakes!


Race 3 – British EBF Ruby Anniversary Restricted Novice Stakes (GBB/IRE Incentive Race) (Class 4, 2yo, 6f)

Dominant from the front and never in much danger, Thanks Forever (6/5F) followed up a promising debut effort at York with an emphatic victory in the third race of the afternoon, steered home by Chester regular Jason Hart for the Adrian Keatley stable. Catapulted into the lead out of the starting stalls, Thanks Forever very quickly took the race by the scruff of the neck under Jason Hart, kicking on comfortably ahead of market rival Winged Messenger (100/30) in second place and the runners blitzed their way through the opening three furlongs. With all but back marker Nominal Event (80/1) now off the bridle, Thanks Forever stepped it up a notch around the home turn, Hart now getting more serious in the saddle and working hard to coax his mount a couple of lengths clear of a ridden along Winged Messenger. Passing the cutaway on the run down to the final furlong and very quickly asserting his dominance, Thanks Forever soon had the race in safe keeping under Jason Hart, swiftly booting over 2 lengths clear of Winged Messenger in the style of a very useful horse; Nominal Event ran on from out of the clouds to finish a respectable third on debut. In a whirlwind 30 minutes for the Keatley Racing Owners Group, winning connections soon had an across the cards double on their hands when Legendary Day won the Betfred Mallard Handicap at Doncaster’s St Leger meeting!


Race 4 – Storrar Cowdry Solicitors Nursery Handicap (Class 3, 2yo, 5f)

Fresh from causing an upset in the first race, lightning struck twice for Karl Burke in Race 4 when David Egan steered home progressive 2-year-old Bazball (12/1) by a neck, bringing up her third victory of the season and turning over the well-backed Due For Luck (EvensF) in the process. Hard pressed to get a good position out of the gates, Bazball soon found herself in a prime location on the heels of the leaders, with Leaves Of Grass (17/2) taking control at the head of affairs, and market leader Due For Luck taking a keen hold up the inside rail, the field covered by little more than five lengths as they thundered through halfway. Sensing an opportunity, Egan switched Bazball out wide around the home turn, bustling his mount along to make a challenge upon entering the straight, with Due For Luck waiting patiently for racing room underneath the far rail. Hitting the front at the furlong pole, the lead soon looked to be short-lived for Bazball, with Due For Luck now storming down the far side and readily moving up to contest the advantage. However, staying on straight and true down the centre of the track once challenged, Bazball pulled out a little extra at the finish and galloped on strongly to hold off the challenges of Due For Luck on her inside and a keeping-on Hackman (15/2) on her outer. With a career best 93 winners in the bag last season, David Egan has certainly continued his form into 2023, recently taking the Irish St Leger aboard Eldar Eldarov!


Race 5 – Camden Town Brewery Handicap (Class 4, 3yo, 1m 6 ½f)

Admirably game when challenged either side in the closing stages, Urban Outlook (11/1) pulled out all the stops in Race 5 to record his second win from just five starts under rules, providing David Probert with a double and trainer Andrew Balding with yet another course success. Breaking widest of all from Stall 10, Urban Outlook quickly circled the field to get himself into a prominent position under David Probert, racing just behind early leader Edwina Sheeran (9/1) through the opening mile and a half, ahead of Dreams Adozen (4/1JF) who had finished second on his only two previous outings on the Roodee, and Gifted Angel (12/1) who was last seen running over hurdles when scoring at Cartmel in August. With little change to the running order throughout, Urban Outlook still maintained a perfect location by the time they reached the home turn for the final time, situated one wide of the now shoved along Edwina Sheeran and still yet to come off the bridle. As Dreams Adozen and Gifted Angel were urged forward by their riders to make a challenge, Urban Outlook moved a length clear at the furlong pole, trying to see them all off from the front. Despite a late surge from Dreams Adozen looking sure to see off the leader in the final 100 yards, Urban Outlook kept on in determined fashion to hold on by a head, simply refusing to give in and ultimately forcing Dreams Adozen into his third Roodee runner-up spot in a row. Familiar to the Roodee winners’ enclosure, the Mill Reef silks have also been carried to success here twice by Balding’s Intransigent!


Race 6 – National Racehorse Week Handicap (Class 3, 3yo+, 6f)

Closing the gap to just one in the race to equal the modern-day record of six career wins at Chester, Roman Dragon (100/30) stayed on beautifully under Hayley Turner in Race 6 to collect his fifth title on the Roodee, keeping on by 1 ¾ lengths to bring up the double for Hugo Palmer. Unable to grab the inside rail from a slightly wider berth than ideal in Stall 6, Hayley Turner had to keep Roman Dragon towards the outside of runners for much of the contest, tracking the early leader Glorious Angel (12/1) in the main whilst Oso Rapido (9/2) attempted to cut every corner by sticking the rail. Rounding the turn for home and in a good position to strike, Roman Dragon came under firm pressure with the furlong marker in sight, gradually eating away at the leader’s deficit as market rival Divine Libra (9/4F) began to make headway from the rear. Finally managing to get to the leader’s quarters with just under a furlong to go, Roman Dragon soon found his second wind and rapidly forged into a commanding lead to make a race-winning move that even the staying-on Divine Libra could not foil, the market leader eventually having to settle for third place behind the plucky Glorious Angel. Having now ridden Roman Dragon to Roodee success twice from two attempts, Hayley Turner certainly knows how to keep winning owners Nick Hughes & Owen Promotions happy!


Race 7 – Oktoberfest Race Day 30th September Handicap (Class 4, 4yo+, 1m 4 ½f)

A dramatic conclusion to the final race of the day went the way of admirable veteran Restorer (13/2) on his 17th course start, the 11-year-old sticking on well at the finish to provide David Egan with a second winner of the afternoon, the pair bringing home the spoils for owner/trainer Ian Williams. Bagging a nice spot tracking the leaders through the opening circuit, Restorer raced comfortably up the inside under David Egan, sitting behind pacesetter Page Three (9/2) in the early stages as Can’t Stop Now (3/1F) moved up with Way Of Life (12/) to keep the leader honest. His own pacesetting duties now getting the better of him, Page Three quickly beat a retreat passing the three-furlong pole, leaving Can’t Stop Now to assume command at the head of affairs, with Compliant (4/1) now making headway alongside Restorer in what looked likely to be a well fought out finish. Four-in-line as the leading quartet rounded the turn and headed towards the final furlong of the contest, it was Compliant who looked to have the most in the tank, staying on stoutly down the outside of Can’t Stop Now as the winning post drew nearer. However, jinking to is right upon taking a narrow lead, Compliant provided a real moment of drama in unshipping jockey Danny Muscutt to the Roodee turf, galloping on riderless and leaving Restorer to eventually seal the deal in the shadows of the post, keeping on by a neck for his seventh victory under rules; Compliant and Muscutt came out relatively unscathed following the incident. What a dramatic end to the 2023 Autumn Festival!

Race report by Adam Perkins    

Skip to the finish
(2:05 pm) THE TOTE STAND CUP STAKES (Class 1, Listed, 3+yo)

Distance: 1m 4f 63y | Prize: £60,000

Winner Name: Al Qareem (1) Owner: Nick Bradley Racing 33 + Burke Trainer: K. R. Burke, Leyburn Jockey: Sam James
Number of runners: 7

Distance: 1m 2f 70y | Prize: £45,000

Winner Name: Box To Box (3) Owner: The Running Order Partnership Trainer: Hugo Palmer, Malpas Jockey: David Probert
Number of runners: 10

Distance: 6f 17y | Prize: £14,000

Winner Name: Thanks Forever (4) Owner: Keatley Racing Owners Group & D Moore Trainer: Adrian Keatley, Malton Jockey: Jason Hart
Number of runners: 8

Distance: 5f 15y | Prize: £20,000

Winner Name: Bazball (8) Owner: Nick Bradley Racing 5 & E Burke Trainer: K. R. Burke Jockey: David Egan
Number of runners: 7 Number of non-runners: 1

Distance: 1m 6f 87y | Prize: £22,500

Winner Name: Urban Outlook (2) Owner: Kingsclere Racing Club Trainer: Andrew Balding, Kingsclere Jockey: David Probert
Number of runners: 10

Distance: 6f 17y | Prize: £20,000

Winner Name: Roman Dragon (2) Owner: Nick Hughes & Owen Promotions Ltd Trainer: Hugo Palmer, Malpas Jockey: Hayley Turner
Number of runners: 7 Number of non-runners: 1

Distance: 1m 4f 63y | Prize: £14,000

Winner Name: Restorer (6) Owner: Mr Ian Williams Trainer: Ian Williams, Alvechurch Jockey: David Egan
Number of runners: 8
Raceday Schedule



2:05 pm

THE TOTE STAND CUP STAKES (Class 1, Listed, 3+yo)
Distance: 1m 4f 63y | Prize: £60,000

2:40 pm

Distance: 1m 2f 70y | Prize: £45,000

3:15 pm

Distance: 6f 17y | Prize: £14,000

3:52 pm

Distance: 5f 15y | Prize: £20,000

4:25 pm

Distance: 1m 6f 87y | Prize: £22,500

5:00 pm

Distance: 6f 17y | Prize: £20,000

5:35 pm

Distance: 1m 4f 63y | Prize: £14,000