Over 20,000 racegoers descended on the Roodee for the 2022 Ladies Day fixture, on a day full of sunshine, best-dressed competitions, and top-quality racing. The feature race of the day came at 3:05pm in the Chester Stakes (Listed), with three Class 2 races to also get pulses racing. Ground conditions were Good (Good To Firm in places), with dry weather and sunny spells throughout.
Race 1 – British Stallion Studs EBF Fillies’ Novice Stakes (GBB Race) (Class 4, 2yo, 7f)
Course experience paid dividends for the 30/100F Frankness in Race 1 of the afternoon, when the Frankel offspring scooted clear to win by 6 ½ lengths under Harry Davies for trainer Andrew Balding. With the field reduced to five after Balalaika was declared a non-runner, Jason Hart was quick to take advantage of an early lead aboard Tellus, with his mount racing keenly at the head of affairs throughout. Racing in second and wide of the leader, Frankness travelled well under Harry Davies through the first couple of furlongs, despite having ducked to her right upon leaving the stalls. Going best and well clear of the final three challengers, Frankness overtook Tellus for the lead with over 3 furlongs left to race and soon looked set to fight out a two-horse finish with her closest rival. Kicking clear off the home bend and in no danger of being overtaken, Frankness swiftly accelerated away from Tellus in the straight, eventually being eased down in the final strides of the contest with no opposition to threaten. Back in third place, after stumbling at the start and struggling from the outset, Pedro And The Bear made promising late headway to finish just over 2 lengths behind Tellus. With this victory, Harry Davies maintained his narrow lead in the Apprentice Jockeys Championship over Benoit De La Sayette, and provided yet another winner for Andrew Balding, who recently trained Chaldean to win the Tattersalls Acomb Stakes (Group 3) and York’s Ebor Festival last week!
Race 2 – City Framers Chester EBF Fillies’ Conditions Stakes (GBB Race) (Class 2, 2yo, 6f)
The second race of the afternoon also went the way of the market leader when 13/8F All The Time cruised clear by 4 ½ lengths to score under Jason Hart for Simon & Ed Crisford. Slowest away and losing plenty of lengths at the start, Sugar Hill Babe was the back marker from the outset and eventually finished 24 lengths behind the fourth-placed finisher of the quintet. Conversely, Can To Can broke sharply to lead in the early stages, closely followed by Queen Of Uplands and All The Time, who in turn raced a couple of lengths clear of Oneforsue. With the leading trio still holding sway as they raced towards the home turn, Ben Curtis turned the screw aboard Can To Can and soon had All The Time and Queen Of Uplands off the bridle in behind her with just under 2 furlongs to race. Spying a gap up the inside as the leading pair came away from the rail, All The Time responded well to Jason Hart’s urgings to gradually claw her way to the lead with a furlong to go. Stopping quickly after being surpassed, Can To Can soon had nothing left to offer by way of a stern challenge and eventually finished a well beaten second behind All The Time, who stayed on gamely in the final furlong to record a smart victory; Queen Of Uplands held off Oneforsue for third place. Owned by Royal Ascot Racing Club, All The Time also donned the very familiar colours of Motivator, who won the Racing Post Trophy in 2004, before the Dante Stakes and Epsom Derby in 2005!
Race 3 – Chester Stakes (Listed Race) (Class 1, 3yo+, 1m 6 ½f)
Just the four runners lined up for the feature race of the day but River Of Stars managed to spring a minor surprise by holding off talented German raider Loft (5/6F) by 2 ¼ lengths to win at odds of 3/1 under J F Egan. Determined to make all from the flag-fall, River Of Stars quickly asserted in the opening couple of furlongs, establishing a lead of a couple of lengths over Typewriter in second, followed in single file by Loft and Vindolanda in third and fourth place. Little change was made to the running order throughout the contest, with River Of Stars still leading the quartet as they made their way into the final quarter mile. Upping the ante and quickening into a 3-4 length lead rounding the turn into the straight, River Of Stars soon had her rivals under strong pressure, including the hot favourite Loft, trained in Germany by Marcel Weiss (trainer of 2021 Arc hero Torquator Tasso). With Typewriter and Vindolanda having no more to offer in rear, if was left to Loft to try to wear down the runaway leader. However, game as Loft was under strong pressure from Ben Curtis, the bird had already flown and River Of Stars kept on strongly in the final 100 yards to scoop another valuable prize for trainer Ralph Beckett. A man never too far away from big winners, Beckett recently secured a Listed race with Haskoy and a Group 2 with Kinross, both at last week’s Ebor Festival at York!
Race 4 – Abacus Securities 20-Year Anniversary Handicap Stakes (Class 2, 3yo+, 7 ½f)
Another surprise winner came in the fourth race of the afternoon when 20/1 shot Percy’s Lad made all from the front under Tom Eaves to squeeze home by ½ a length for joint-trainers Daniel & Claire Kubler. Quickly away and keen to grab the early lead, Percy’s Lad raced a length clear of Paws For Thought and Positive Impact for much of the contest, with On A Session also prominent alongside Bullace and the 5/2F Titan Rock. Coming to the 2-furlong marker, the two travelling notably better than their rivals were Percy’s Lad and Positive Impact, the pair quickly kicking clear on the turn into the straight with little threat coming from those in mid-division. Entering the final furlong, Percy’s Lad managed to find a second wind under Tom Eaves, and soon put over a length between himself and Positive Impact. With less than 100 yards to go, Positive Impact stuck on gamely for pressure to reduce the deficit to ½ a length but ultimately could not quite reach the long-time leader and eventual victor Percy’s Lad; Bullace stayed on well for third place ahead of Paws For Thought in fourth. A training partnership continuing to prove successful, Daniel & Claire Kubler are familiar names on the Roodee having trained the talented Outgate to win two Class 2 Handicaps here this season, a horse already coming in for big money offers and bids from horse owners in Hong Kong!
Race 5 – Joan Calvert Brown Handicap Stakes (Class 2, 3yo+, 5 ½f)
Recent course winner King Of Tonga showed the benefit of a short break when battling well to claim the fifth race of the day by ¾ of a length at odds of 4/1 under Harrison Shaw. Sharply away, Sampers Seven was the early trailblazer under double-seeking Jason Hart, closely followed either side by course regulars Roman Dragon and Lihou, with King Of Tonga settling on the rail in fourth place. As the tempo increased before the home turn, Sampers Seven still held sway up top, with Lihou and Roman Dragon now firmly under pressure in behind. However, another to take the daring run up the inside rail, King Of Tonga was soon catapulted into a duel with the long-time leader entering the straight, with Roman Dragon sticking to the task well down the outside. As Ancient Times began to make stealthy headway having been ridden along for the best part of 4 furlongs, King Of Tonga wrestled his way to the lead with a furlong left to race and managed to steal enough of an advantage to eventually hold off his new challenger by ¾ of a length, gamely staying on in the closing stages. Valiant in defeat, Sampers Seven finished an honourable third place a length clear of Roman Dragon, who has remarkably finished in the first four places on seven of his eight runs at Chester. Operating at a healthy 13% strike rate, Declan Carroll has amassed 18 winners so far this season, already surpassing his 2021 total of 14. Congratulations Declan and Harrison on another victory!
Race 6 – Archie Biggs Handicap Stakes (Class 4, 3yo, 5f)
Prominent tactics once again proved successful on Ladies Day when 15/2 chance Riversway made all in the penultimate race of the day under Barry McHugh, scoring by ¾ of a length in comfortable fashion. Struggling early doors after being hampered in an early scrimmage for the lead, both Frisky and Le Beau Garcon (11/4 Joint Favourites) sat towards the rear of the field. However, breaking smartly and taking a keen hold at the front of the pack, Riversway led the field along at a blistering pace in this short 5f sprint, followed in close proximity by Lucky Shake, So Smart, and Antiphon. Travelling well in the prominent vanguard, Catch Cunningham soon began to make headway as the field rounded the final bend, cutting through the field to sit directly behind Riversway upon entering the final 1 ½ furlongs. With Lucky Shake now producing a strong challenge on the inside, Riversway now had a fight on his hands to maintain his lead in the final furlong, the pair still over a length clear of Catch Cunningham. However, game under pressure and managing to pull out further in the dying strides, Riversway won snugly in the end under Barry McHugh, ahead of Lucky Shake and Catch Cunningham. Notable late headway was also made by Frisky, who could be one to watch next time after having suffered various traffic problems throughout but still managed to steal fourth place. Another horse to carry successful colours on today’s card, Riversway carries the colours of David Armstrong, an owner renown for Group 1 successes in recent years with Mayson and Mabs Cross!
Race 7 – GBR Everyone’s Turf Handicap Stakes (Class 4, 3yo+, 2m)
Favourite backers rejoiced in the lucky last as The Gadget Man easily justified 7/4 favouritism by 4 lengths under J F Egan, who once again teamed up with Ralph Beckett for their second winner of the afternoon. In a race in which three of the 8 runners were owned by Dr Marwan Koukash, it was course regular Emiyn that maintained the lead for more than one circuit of the contest, mainly followed by Mancini and Bollin Neal, with a further couple of lengths back to The Gadget Man and Cogital in midfield. With just under 3 furlongs left to race, many of the contestants came under stern pressure as the race truly began in earnest, with Bollin Neal and Cogital struggling to keep up with the increase in tempo. Making rapid headway out wide, previous course winner Heart Of Soul began to make a strong challenge for the lead as Emiyn led the field around the home turn, with Mancini in between them and The Gadget Man plugging on in fourth. No sooner had Heart Of Soul hit the front, he had surrendered the lead back to Emiyn who stayed on pluckily under Harrison Shaw with over a furlong to go. However, staying on best of all down the centre of the track and under firm pressure, The Gadget Man determinedly reduced the deficit in the final furlong to take over the lead in impressive style, leaving Emiyn for dead in the closing stages and winning going away; Mancini held on for third place. A jockey with a career spanning more than 30 years, J F Egan has had many big days on the Roodee, with wins in the City Walls, Chester Stakes, Stand Cup, and the Chester Cup!
Race report by Adam Perkins
The British Stallion Studs EBF Fillies' Novice Stakes (Class 4, 2yo)
Distance: 7f 1y | Prize: £11,546
The City Framers Chester EBF Fillies' Conditions Stakes (Class 2, 2yo)
Distance: 6f 17y | Prize: £21,198
The Abacus Securities 20-year Anniversary Handicap Stakes (Class 2, 3yo+)
Distance: 7f 127y | Prize: £46,000