With the promise of a competitive seven race card, followed by a DJ set from Radio 1 star Jordan North after racing, a bumper crowd of more than 17,000 ensured that the Roodee was a buzzing hive of atmosphere for the 2023 edition of Ladies Day. The feature race of the day came at 3:20pm in the CAA Stellar Chester Stakes (Listed Race), with ground conditions Good To Soft (Good in places).
Race 1 – Contact Company Handicap (Class 2, 3yo+, 7 ½f)
Enhancing his Roodee record to 50%, Master Zoffany (10/1) sailed clear in the final furlong to score for the third time at the track during Race 1, Billy Garritty steering his mount home for trainer Richard Fahey. Breaking away on terms, Master Zoffany raced in midfield throughout the opening half mile, licking the paint up the inside rail behind recent course winner Spioradalta (10/1) as the field were taken along by Liamarty Dreams (28/1) and Percy’s Lad (14/1), another course winner. Rounding the turn into the straight and apparently full of running, Master Zoffany still had a fair amount of work on, entering the straight in sixth place as Liamarty Dreams threatened to slip the field. Switched wide just before the furlong pole, Master Zoffany made his moved under Garritty, gradually cutting away at the deficit along with the staying on Roodee regular Revich (12/1) down the centre of the track. Hitting the front at the half-furlong marker, Garritty had no trouble booting Master Zoffany clear in the closing stages, eventually running out a comfortable 1 ½ length victor, with Percy’s Lad holding off Revich for second place. Aiming to hit over 100 winners for the 16th year in a row, Fahey is now up to 76 winners in 2023, including the Old Newton Cup with Wootton’Sun!
Race 2 – British EBF Ruby Anniversary Novice Stakes (GBB/IRE Incentive Race) (Class 4, 2yo, 7f)
Bouncing back to form after three below-par runs on the spin, Politico (4/1) blitzed away up the straight under a front-running Franny Norton special in Race 2, taking his record to 2-2 on the Roodee for trainer Charlie Johnston. Darting out of the stalls and disputing the lead early, Politico looked to be in prime position from the outset of the second race, holding sway ahead of outsiders Mister Gan (12/1) and Autumn Rose (28/1) in prominent positions, with the well-backed market leader Infinity Blue (5/4F) widest of all. Dictating the pace and travelling comfortably at the head of affairs, Politico kicked again around the home turn, forcing Infinity Blue to make his move down the outside to try and reel back the runaway leader. However, accelerating away with the minimum of fuss, Politico looked to be in a league of his own in the final couple of furlongs, the bird well and truly having flown away from the opposition and eventually finishing 2 ¾ lengths clear of Autumn Rose in second place; It’s Not Risky (6/1) stayed on well for third. Enjoying a successful first season as a sole trainer, Charlie Johnston has now raked in more than £2 million in prize money during 2023!
Race 3 – Printworks Handicap (Class 4, 3yo, 5f)
Holding off a host of challengers in the closing stages, Seantrabh (15/2) scored for the second time under rules for trainer Declan Carroll in the third race of the day, with up-and-coming apprentice Zak Wheatley doing the steering. Sharply into stride from a less than desirable berth in Stall 9, Seantrabh quickly made his way into a prominent position in the early stages of Race 3, moving up to challenge leading duo Profitable Edge (6/1) and Secret Mistral (25/1) at the halfway stage. His mount racing very keenly at the head of affairs, Wheatley soon struck the front aboard Seantrabh with just over two furlongs left to race, the 3-year-old gelding pulling himself into a narrow lead as the home straight loomed large. Always looking in control despite a late rally from market leader Fair Wind (100/30F) in the final furlong, Seantrabh led all the way to the line down the home straight and ultimately ran out a tidier winner than the ¾ length winning margin would suggest, with Fair Wind never able to get on terms in second place, and Profitable Edge fading late on into third. Now on 13 winners for the 2023 flat season, Zak Wheatley needs just one more to equal his personal best of 14!
Race 4 – CAA Stellar Chester Stakes (Listed Race) (Class 1, 3yo+, 1m 6 ½f)
Springing a surprise after a disappointing effort from market leader Military Order (4/5F) in fifth place, Shanroe (17/2) ensured his trip over the Irish Sea was a successful one, bringing home Listed honours in impressive style under Jason Hart and securing a valuable prize for handler Karl Thornton. Straight into the lead and keen to dictate at the head of affairs, Shanroe travelled comfortably under Jason Hart throughout the first circuit of the feature race, holding a lead of over a length to Military Order in second place, followed closely by Divine Jewel (15/2) and Lone Eagle (11/4), with rank outsider Greysful Storm (25/1) bringing up the rear. As Shanroe led the field into the final three furlongs of the contest, each of the quintet raced off the bridle under pressure to go forward and claim the valuable prize. As Military Order struggled to maintain his prominent position after being forced wide into the straight, Shanroe was soon left in the clear upon entering the final two furlongs, the leader gamely plodding on under stern pressure. In spite of a late thrust down the centre of the track from Divine Jewel at the furlong marker, Shanroe was simply not for passing in the closing stages, the 9-year-old veteran readily holding off the opposition to claim his eleventh win under rules, two of which coming over hurdles. A trainer renown for producing smart dual-purpose performers, Thornton also had Graded hurdle success with solid flat performer Wakea in 2016!
Race 5 – CSP AV EBF Fillies Conditions Stakes (GBB Race) (Class 2, 2yo, 6f)
Maintaining her unbeaten record under rules in emphatic style, Great Generation (100/30) took apart the fifth race of the day under Stefano Cherchi, going on to score by a stylish 3 ¼ lengths for trainer Marco Botti. Another race where only the five went to post, the field remained fairly tightly grouped throughout Race 5, the runners taken along by Tenhotfourcrazy (4/1) in the lead ahead of Elinor Dashwood (15/2) and Great Generation, with the class dropping Jabaara (9/4F) racing in last place behind Works Of Art (100/30). Travelling down the far side through the halfway point, Great Generation travelled notably well for Stefano Cherchi on the heels of the leaders, coming widest of all around the home turn to make a challenge for the lead on the run past the two-furlong pole. As Elinor Dashwood and Tenhotfourcrazy faded out of contention under the increase in tempo, Great Generation showed no signs of struggle when passing the furlong marker, readily swooping into the lead, and with Jabaara unable to make up enough ground from rear, Great Generation was left to seal the deal in the final 100 yards, rapidly clearing away from his rivals in eye-catching style. With Great Generation already looking like a smart 2-year-old to follow, Marco Botti will be hopeful of adding another valuable prize to his CV, having already claimed a Group 2 with Giavellotto this year!
Race 6 – Olivia Acton 21st Birthday Handicap (Class 3, 3yo+, 5 ½f)
Swooping down the outside and getting up on the line to deny Roman Dragon (7/2F) a fifth course victory, Call Me Ginger (11/2) was delivered to perfection by Paul Mulrennan in the penultimate race on the card, securing victory by a short head for Northern trainer Jim Goldie. A fast exit out of the stalls ensured that Call Me Ginger was never in much danger in Race 6, the 7-year-old sitting in mid-division alongside Roman Dragon through the opening half of the contest as Hyperfocus (7/1) led the field towards the final couple of furlongs. Still with seven rivals in front of him, Call Me Ginger was asked for his effort by Paul Mulrennan on the turn into the straight, switching his mount out wide for clear shot at the leader with just over a furlong to go. As Roman Dragon gradually wore down the lead set by Hyperfocus upon passing the furlong maker, it looked for all the world as if he was about to secure his fifth Roodee victory. However, building up a head of steam down the centre of the track, Call Me Ginger was flying under the Mulrennan drive and eventually had just enough left in the tank to nudge ahead of Roman Dragon in the shadows of the post; Hyperfocus held on for third place. An often fruitful partnership when joining forces, Paul Mulrennan and Jim Goldie also teamed up for 3x Group 3 and 1x Listed victories in 2020/2021 with stable stalwart Euchen Glen!
Race 7 – Jordan North DJ Set Handicap (Class 4, 3yo+, 2m)
Relentless from the front throughout the final contest, Brave Knight (100/30) galloped his rivals into submission under Darragh Keenan in Race 7, making all for Sir Mark Prescott Bt by ¾ of a length, holding off course regular It’s Good To Laugh (3/1JF) in the process. Booted into the lead from the widest stall, Darragh Keenan was eager to set the pace out in front aboard Brave Knight, maintaining a steady gallop through the first circuit ahead of Seahouses (3/1JF) and Wholeofthemoon (14/1) for the most part, with previous course winner It’s Good To Laugh towards the rear of the field with Zimmerman (5/1). As the majority of the field came off the bridle upon passing the three-furlong marker, Brave Knight appeared to be travelling best of all out in front, only coming under marginal pressure when making his way around the home turn, with Zimmerman now in hot pursuit. Galloping on in relentless fashion, Brave Knight stretched further clear with just over a furlong to race, Seahouses now folding tamely into last place as It’s Good To Laugh began to make late headway. However, despite cutting the deficit to just under a length, It’s Good To Laugh never threatened to overhaul the leader, and merely having to be pushed out, Brave Knight came home a tidy winner under Darragh Keenan. Operating at a superb 22% strike-rate this season, Sir Mark Prescott Bt now needs just one more winner to equal his record last season of 32 winners!
Race report by Adam Perkins
THE CAA STELLAR CHESTER STAKES (Class 1, Listed)
Distance: 1m, 6f | Prize: £50,000
THE CSP AV EBF FILLIES CONDITIONS STAKES (Class 2)
Distance: 6f | Prize: £22,000
THE OLIVIA ACTON 21ST BIRTHDAY HANDICAP STAKES 76-95 (Class 3)
Distance: 5.5f | Prize: £20,000