Racing made a soggy, albeit triumphant return to the Roodee on Wednesday 10th May for Day One of the 2023 Boodles May Festival! With wet weather conditions throughout the afternoon leaving the ground Soft, it took a good performance to come home in the lead. The feature races of Day 1 came at 2:40pm and 3:15pm in the Cheshire Oaks and the Chester Vase; two notable Classic trials.
Race 1 – CAA Stellar Lily Agnes Conditions Stakes (GBB Race) (Class 2, 2yo, 5f)
Top jockey at Chester in 2022 with 8 winners, Ryan Moore’s imperious form continued into 2023 when steering Ziggy’s Phoenix (9/4F) to a narrow win in the Lily Agnes for Richard Hannon, holding on by ½ a length from the similarly named Ziggy’s Dream. Berthed well in Stall 1, Moore’s mount jumped sharply from the gates to take the early lead alongside Balon D’Or, the pair locked in battle all the way into the home straight. With just over a furlong left to race and little challenge coming from the chasing pack, Ziggy’s Phoenix pulled a length clear of Balon D’Or, ridden out to make sure of the victory. Nipping up the inside rail under hands and heels, Ziggy’s Dream made late headway in the final 100 yards of the contest but could never quite reel in the leader after a slow start proved costly. A fruitful combination of late, winning owners Middleham Park Racing also teamed up with Richard Hannon last week when successful in the King Charles II Stakes with Shouldvebeenaring!
Race 2 – Tote £100K Guaranteed Placepot Every Day Handicap (Class 3, 3yo, 5f)
Ploughing through the mud under a perfectly timed ride from William Buick, Danger Alert (12/1) swooped late to scoop the second race of the day, holding on by a head at the line from Jer Batt (11/4F) for trainer George Boughey. Racing keenly in mid-division through the first couple of furlongs, Danger Alert had plenty of cover in the early stages alongside market leader Jer Batt, the field headed by fancied runners Democracy Dilemma and Seantrabh as they rounded the home turn. Seemingly going best of all with the furlong marker in sight, Jer Batt made a circling run around the field and bounded into the lead, with victory looking all but certain under rising star Billy Loughnane. However, running straight and true down the centre of the track under a power-packed William Buick, Danger Alert made a storming late run to snatch the lead in the dying strides, denying favourite-backers of a quickfire double; Kerdos stayed on for third place. Already well on track this year after a Group 2 success in the Dahlia Stakes with Via Sistina, George Boughey’s rise continues!
Race 3 – Weatherbys Digital Solutions Cheshire Oaks (For The Robert Sangster Memorial Cup) (Listed Race) (Class 1, 3yo, 1m 3 ½f)
Arguably putting up one of the most impressive May Festival performances of modern times, Savethelastdance (8/11F) romped home in the 2023 running of the Cheshire Oaks, scorching clear by 22 lengths to record another victory for the deadly Ryan Moore and Aidan O’Brien. Niggled in rear after only a couple of furlongs, Savethelastdance sat a couple of lengths adrift of leading pair Sirona and Wintercrack in the early stages. With little change to the running order as the runners made their way to the two-furlong marker, Moore made his move aboard the hot favourite, manoeuvring the chestnut filly to the outside of Sirona with just the home straight to negotiate. Cantering all over her rivals, Savethelastdance merely needed to be nudged with a furlong to go, suddenly sauntering into an unassailable lead, and kicking further and further clear with every stride to record a scintillating victory; There’s The Door crossed the line a well-beaten second. A trainer with a 100% strike-rate from his five runners at Chester in 2022, Aidan O’Brien certainly has a winning formula on the Roodee, with this victory becoming his record eighth win in the Cheshire Oaks since 2008!
Race 4 – Boodles Chester Vase Stakes (Group 3) (Class 1, 3yo, 1m 4 ½f)
Seemingly written in the stars on what will likely prove to be his final ever ride at Chester Racecourse, Frankie Dettori’s swansong season rolled on in impressive style when his mount Arrest (10/11F) won eased-down in the Chester Vase for trainers John & Thady Gosden, 6 ½ lengths clear of 9/4 2F Adelaide River in second place. With the field led by the Johnston runner Hadrianus from the outset, Dettori seemed content to keep the keen-going Arrest in a prominent position behind the leader throughout the contest, the quintet completed by Adelaide River, Galactic Jack, and Duke Of Oxford racing in last. Sneaking a couple of glances between his legs as the runners passed the 3f pole, Dettori seemed full of confidence aboard Arrest, moving the colt forward to take on the leader as the field headed around the final turn. As Hadrianus emptied amid the increase in tempo around the home bend, Arrest swiftly asserted in the straight, quickening clear of Adelaide River in the final furlong and going on to register a stylish win, eased down in the final strides under Dettori. Coming back victorious in the famous Juddmonte silks, Dettori also scored in the same colours last week in the Qipco 2,000 Guineas aboard Chaldean. Congratulations on a truly marvellous career, Frankie!
Race 5 – Camden Pale Handicap (Class 3, 3yo, 6f)
Drawn in Stall 1 and always prominent, Radio Goo Goo (11/1) put up a game performance in the fifth race of the day, leading from pillar to post under Ben Curtis to score for trainer David Evans by ½ a length. Maintaining a strong tempo at the head of affairs, Radio Goo Goo made most ahead of Kessaar Power and California Gem in the early stages, with market leader Royal Dress (2/1F) keeping to the inside rail under Ryan Moore in mid-division. Still holding the advantage as the field swung into the home straight, Radio Goo Goo stayed on strongly under pressure from his rider to sneak a few lengths clear of 22/1 outsider Winter Crown, himself flying down the centre of the track from an unpromising early position. However, with time running out and less than 100 yards to go, Winter Crown fell just short in the shadows of the post, failing to pull back the game winner Radio Goo Goo by just half a length, the pair finishing just over a length clear of Royal Dress in third place. A jockey familiar with the winning post at Chester, Ben Curtis also claimed the valuable Queensferry Stakes (Listed) on course in 2022 aboard the Hugo Palmer trained Ebro River!
Race 6 – Deepbridge Syndicate Maiden Stakes (GBB Race) (Class 3, 3yo, 1m 2 ½f)
The penultimate race of the day went the way of promising youngster Amleto (7/2), who eventually ran out a comfortable 3 ½ length winner under Tom Marquand for top trainer William Haggas. Leading from the outset, Gifted Angel raced a length clear of Amleto in second for much of the contest, the pair followed closest of all by market leader Shadow Dance (6/5F) as the runners powered through the wet conditions. Travelling best of all with a couple of furlongs to race, Amleto challenged Gifted Angel for the lead on the turn into the straight, soon ridden over a length clear of a staying-on Paddy The Squire (80/1) who had now inherited second place. Showing a real likeness for the easy ground and for the switch to turf, Amleto quickened on again in the final furlong, settling the race in a matter of strides and winning eased down ahead of Paddy The Squire and Shadow Dance. A force to be reckoned with, the Marquand-Haggas machine also combined for Group 1 glory in Australia recently, with Dubai Honour winning the Queen Elizabeth Stakes!
Race 7 – Everyone’s Turf Handicap (Class 4, 4yo+, 7f)
In a field stacked full of previous course winners, it was course debutante Hodler (17/2) that came home in front, delivered late from a wide berth in Stall 12 under a stylish ride from Ryan Sexton, taking home the spoils to win by 2 lengths. Racing towards the rear of mid-division throughout, Hodler kept company with veteran Another Batt in the early stages, the field led by the 2021 winner of this race Broken Spear, and 2022 runner-up Paws For Thought. With just over two furlongs left to race, Sexton made an ambitious manoeuvre around the outside of the field, rapidly making ground in the widest position to chase new leader Paws For Thought into the straight. Relentlessly cutting down the deficit with the winning post fast approaching, Hodler challenged the leader as they entered the final furlong, soon extending under more firm pressure from his rider to clear away by a couple of lengths in the final 100 yards; Paws For Thought eventually finished third after a tough battle, leaving Gorak to fill the runner-up spot. Owners more commonly associated with jumps horses, Taylor & O’Dwyer also enjoyed plenty of success with the recently retired Lostintranslation!
Race report by Adam Perkins
Distance: 1m,3f,75y | Prize: £100,000Winner Name: Savethelastdance (6) Owner: Mrs J Magnier / M Tabor / D Smith / Westerberg Trainer: Aidan O'Brien, Ireland Jockey: Ryan Moore
THE CAA STELLAR LILY AGNES CONDITIONS STAKES (CLASS 2, 2yo)
Distance: 5f,15y | Prize: £30,000
The Tote £100K Guaranteed Placepot everyday Handicap Stakes (CLASS 3, 3yo)
Distance: 5f,15y | Prize: £30,000
THE WEATHERBYS DIGITAL SOLUTIONS CHESHIRE OAKS (CLASS 1, 3yo) (for the Robert Sangster Memorial Cup) (Listed Race)
Distance: 1m,3f,75y | Prize: £100,000
THE BOODLES CHESTER VASE STAKES (CLASS 1, 3yo) (Group 3)
Distance: 1m,4f,63y | Prize: £120,000
THE DEEPBRIDGE SYNDICATE MAIDEN STAKES (CLASS 3, 3yo) (GBB RACE)
Distance: 1m,2f,70y | Prize: £20,000