Despite weather conditions ranging between sun, cloud, thunder, and rain, over 19,000 racegoers took to the Roodee to partake in the 2023 edition of Clogau City Plate Day. The feature race came at 4:27pm in a competitive renewal of the Raymond & Kathleen Corbett Memorial City Plate Stakes (Listed), in which ten rivals went faced off on ground officially described at Soft all over.
Race 1 – Printworks Apprentice Handicap (Class 5, 4yo+, 1m 4 ½f)
Recording his first win on the flat in just under six years, Red Royalist (4/1) proved just too strong for Alchemystique (17/2) and She’s A Novelty (7/4F) in a tight conclusion to the opening contest, the 9-year-old coming home ½ a length in front under Taylor Fisher for trainers Mike Murphy & Michael Keady. Settling behind early leader Snag It (11/2) throughout the opening circuit, Red Royalist sat in a prominent third place alongside market leader She’s A Novelty, with Alchemystique and Heart Of Soul (14/) bringing up the rear. As the field began to thin out passing the three-furlong marker, Red Royalist did not appear to be travelling well, with Fisher cajoling his mount along to keep up with the leaders, She’s A Novelty now taking aim at Snag It around the home turn. However, very game under pressure, Red Royalist soon reeled back the deficit upon entering the straight and made his challenge down the outside of She’s A Novelty to wrestle his way into a narrow lead with a furlong to go. Briefly looking likely to be overhauled by a late burst from Alchemystique towards the stands rail in the final furlong, Red Royalist gamely pulled out more close home, and ultimately held on well to secure the victory. Having racked up 10 winners in their debut season on a dual training license, Mike Murphy & Michael Keady have already exceeded that total with 12 winners so far in 2023!
Race 2 – Rio Steakhouse EBF Novice Stakes (GBB/IRE Incentive Race) (Class 4, 2yo, 5f)
A day for the history books on the Roodee, the second race of the afternoon saw trainer Andrew Balding record his 100th winner at Chester, with David Probert steering Loaded Gun (4/1) home by a length ahead of Macanudo (11/4 JF) in second place. Quickly out the gates and proving Stall 9 to be of no hinderance, Loaded Gun rapidly found himself in a cosy third place position after the first couple of furlongs had been negotiated, with joint market leader Macanudo leading the way ahead of Si Si Senor (17/2), with the likes of Desert Master (11/4 JF) further back in mid division. Kicking for home and getting first run on the field passing the two-furlong marker, one could be forgiven for thinking Macanudo had the race in the bag from a long way out, the 2-year-old now stretching over 2 lengths clear of Loaded Gun with just the home straight to navigate. However, hanging badly over to his left at the furlong pole, Macanudo proved to be difficult for Jack Mitchell to steer, reducing his own lead enough for Loaded Gun to mount a late run down the centre of the track and ultimately steal the race in the shadows of the post; Desert Master stuck on to finish third. Victorious aboard Coltrane in the Doncaster Cup (Group 2), Probert raked in over £2 million in prize money in 2022!
Race 3 – Edinburgh Gin Handicap (Class 4, 3yo, 6f)
Breaking well from Stall 3, Divine Libra (6/1) secured a quickfire double for David Probert in the third race of the day, the 3-year-old keeping on well by ¾ of a length to provide Charles Hills with his 38th winner of the season. Bursting out of the stalls and darting across to the inside rail, Divine Libra raced towards the fore in the early stages behind Seantrabh (9/1) in the lead and alongside market leader Winter Crown (3/1F) on the outside. As the tempo increased on the turn into the straight, Divine Libra still appeared to be full of running, Probert biding his time aboard the 3-year-old, waiting for the gaps to appear as Seantrabh led the field into the final couple of furlongs. Produced perfectly after the ideal gap appeared along the inside rail, Divine Libra was soon on the attack as the final furlong loomed large, flying into the lead as Winter Crown relegated Seantrabh to third place. Head down in determined fashion as challengers appeared down the centre of the track, Divine Libra was simply not for passing in the closing stages, Probert merely having to push him out to hold on by a narrow margin ahead of Harry’s Halo (11/2) and Braveheart Boy (14/1), both of whom stayed on from the rear in eye-catching fashion. A trainer enjoying a solid season, Hills also recently scored a Group 1 with Khaadem in the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot!
Race 4 – Clogau Handicap (Class 4, 3yo+, 1m 6 ½f)
A name familiar with all Roodee regulars, Emiyn (9/2) notched his third win at the track in stylish fashion in the fourth race of the afternoon, Zak Wheatley keeping last year’s Watergate Cup winner in front from start to finish, supplying Declan Carroll with yet another Chester victory. Maintaining a slow and steady pace at the head of affairs, Emiyn raced comfortably throughout under Zak Wheatley, holding sway ahead of Two Brothers (7/2) and Chase The Dollar (33/1), with previous course winner It’s Good To Laugh (9/1) racing alongside Zimmerman (11/1) in mid-division. Having conserved energy due to the steady tempo, Emiyn was the first to commit when approaching the home straight, kicking on a couple of lengths clear of It’s Good To Laugh, who made a move around the outside of beaten horses into second place with just two furlongs to go. However, ploughing on through the rain-soaked ground, Emiyn displayed a very likeable attitude in the final couple of furlongs, staying on doggedly up the run-in and seeing off It’s Good To Laugh in determined style, the pair well clear of Zimmerman and Two Brothers as the field came home in wide intervals having been unable to live with the winners’ turn of foot. A front-running 7th in this year’s Chester Cup, Emiyn has now finished in the first four on his other seven runs around the Roodee: very impressive!
Race 5 – Raymond & Kathleen Corbett Memorial City Plate Stakes (Listed Race) (Class 1, 3yo+, 7f)
Finally able to add to his maiden victory on racecourse debut, Holguin (11/4F) stayed-on strongly to claim well-deserved Listed honours in the feature race on the card, the consistent 3-year-old bringing up the double for trainer Andrew Balding, and the treble for jockey David Probert. Racing in midfield from the outset, Holguin raced comfortably through the halfway under Probert, positioned a couple of lengths behind early leaders He’s A Monster (5/1) and Misty Grey (14/1), with the likes of Fast Response (6/1) and Royal Ascot winner Witch Hunter (10/1) towards the tail of the field. Pushed along to make a forward move as He’s A Monster led the field into the straight, Holguin and Misty Grey raced widest of all towards the stands rail, the pair now challenging Witch Hunter for the lead as He’s A Monster faded away under pressure. Running on well for Probert’s urgings along the rail, Holguin pulled out a little extra in the final furlong, staying-on stoutly through the deep ground to claim a narrow lead 100 yards from the line, eventually seeing off Fast Response by a narrow margin, Karl Burke’s talented filly unable to claw back the deficit in time to claim her second Listed win. Not the first time winning owner J Palmer-Brown’s colours have been carried to Class 1 success, Raise You also donned the same colours when winning last year’s Irish St Leger Trial (Group 3)!
Race 6 – Camden Town Handicap (Class 4, 4yo+, 1m 2 ½f)
The final race of this year’s City Plate Day went to the game Auld Toon Loon (6/1), who kicked on well down the home straight under David Nolan to record a smooth 2 ¼ length success for trainer David O’Meara. Always in close proximity to the leaders, Auld Toon Loon raced along the inside rail throughout the opening circuit of the final race, chasing leader and previous course winner Jean Baptiste (3/1F) for the majority, with Compliant (100/30) racing prominently on his outside. As the tempo lifted passing the three-furlong marker, Nolan pushed Auld Toon Loon along to maintain his run up the inside, with Jean Baptiste kicking for home first, but under strong pressure to do so. Four runners practically in line as the leaders made their way into the final furlong of the contest, Jean Baptiste finally surrendered the lead to Auld Toon Loon, with challengers also appearing along the stands rail in the form of Bushfire (7/1) and Compliant as the winning post drew closer. However, gamely pressing on now in the clear, Auld Toon Loon was much too good in the closing stages, the 4-year-old readily kicking more than 2 lengths ahead of Compliant in the final 50 yards to record his second win of the season; Jean Baptiste finished a neck further behind in third place. A prosperous partnership when teaming up, O’Meara and Nolan also teamed up in 2014 when victorious in the Pomfret Stakes (Listed) with Custom Cut, who won 9 Listed or better class races during his career!
Race report by Adam Perkins
THE PRINTWORKS APPRENTICE HANDICAP STAKES (CLASS 5, 4+yo)
Distance: 1m 4f 63y | Prize: £10,000
THE RIO STEAKHOUSE CHESTER EBF NOVICE STAKES (CLASS 4, 2yo)
Distance: 5f 15y | Prize: £10,000
THE RAYMOND & KATHLEEN CORBETT MEMORIAL CITY PLATE STAKES (CLASS 1, 3+yo)
Distance: 7f 1 y | Prize: £50,000