On an overcast Friday evening, racegoers turned out in their thousands to attend Mappin & Webb’s Ladies Evening at Chester Racecourse. With a best dressed competition and six good quality races on show, there was entertainment aplenty on the Roodee once again. Ground conditions were Good To Firm (Good in Places), with weather conditions breezy throughout.
Race 1 – Boulton Group Handicap Stakes (Class 4, 3yo, 7 ½f)
The first race of the evening provided a major shock for punters as rank outsider Devasboy prevailed by 1 length at odds of 20/1, staying on best to defy the 9/4 Fav Manaslu. Fastest away for this 7 ½ furlong contest was Manaslu under Tom Eaves, fending off Golden Sands under Franny Norton for the early lead. Close-up in behind the early leaders were Sisters In The Sky, Liangel Hope, and Let Em Have It, but trailing in rear having broken sluggishly was Devasboy under Andrew Breslin. Coming to the 2f pole, Manaslu steadied the tempo, allowing the opposition to gain ground on the run to the home turn. However, Eaves soon kicked Manaslu clear of Golden Sands as the runners swung into the home straight, with Liangel Hope seeking racing room up the inside rail. A furlong away from the line, a sudden late burst of pace from the outsider Devasboy soon put paid to the chances of his opponents, as he flew down the outside of Golden Sands and Manaslu to record an eye-catching victory, especially considering his early position. After having such an illustrious career as the sole trainer at Kingsley Park Stables, Mark Johnston this year joined forces with his son Charlie on a dual-training licence. With 78 winners already in 2022, there could be plenty more to come!
Race 2 – North West Trucks Restricted Novice Stakes (Class 4, 2yo, 7f)
Another enthralling finish on the Roodee saw racecourse debutant Mlle Chanel fly down the outside in the final 100 yards of the contest to snatch victory at odds of 11/4, fending off the short-priced 4/5 Favourite Mystical Applause. Keen to get to the lead in the early stages, Duchray set the pace for much of the race under Franny Norton, racing ahead of Hayley Turner’s mount Mystical Applause in second, with Mlle Chanel and Queenmambo bringing up the rear. Still ahead coming to the home turn, Duchray soon faced a strong challenge from Mystical Applause, who looked for all money that he would soon justify his cramped starting price. However, a similar story to the previous race unfolded, as Mlle Chanel found a second wind down the outside of the leaders and stayed on best of all to steal the race under David Probert in the dying strides by just a solitary head at the line. Fresh off the back of a career best season, David Probert has also teamed up with Andrew Balding in 2022 for a Group 2 success at Haydock Park when winning the prestigious Temple Stakes aboard Kings Lynn, a horse owned by none other than Her Majesty The Queen! A team going places, David Probert and Andrew Balding look to have another promising juvenile on their hands!
Race 3 – Mappin & Webb Handicap Stakes (Class 4, 3yo+, 7f)
It paid to be prominent in the third race of the day as Poet’s Magic led from pillar to post to secure a cosy victory by ¾ of a length under a canny ride from Dougie Costello at odds of 6/1. Breaking sharply from Stall 2, Poet’s Magic soon led the way in the early stages, challenged mainly on the outer by Cashew and Hayley Turner, with previous course winner Roundhay Park racing prominently in third place. Midfield was well-stocked throughout the contest with another course winner Gabrial The Wire amongst them for much of the race, along with the 7/4 Fav Sir Oliver; trailing in last and struggling from the outset came Ciotog. Two furlongs from home, as the pack started to close in on Poet’s Magic, the leader suddenly showed a great turn of foot to kick over 2 lengths clear, leading the way into the home straight with victory in her sights. Having raced in rear division throughout, strong runs from Jilly Cooper, Barney’s Bay, and Hathlool looked quite threatening in the closing stages of the contest, but were ultimately too late to overthrow Poet’s Magic, who galloped on strongly to the line in the final 50 yards to secure a well-earned victory, for trainer John Quinn. No stranger to success on the bigger stages, John Quinn has also had plenty recent joy with talented mare Highfield Princess, including in the 2021 Buckingham Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot!
Race 4 – Envirosips EBF Fillies’ Handicap Stakes (Class 3, 3yo+, 1m 2 ½f)
The losing streak for favourite backers took a more favourable turn after the fourth race as recent course winner Vazire justified her short odds of 11/8 to run out a smooth winner and provided a double for David Probert and Andrew Balding. The Sir Michael Stoute-trained filly Terra Mitica led the way for much of the contest, racing keenly ahead of Electress in second place and Vazire in third; slower away in rear were Makinmedoit and previous course winner Golden Melody. Setting a rather leisurely gallop at the head of affairs, Terra Mitica came under the pump of Silvestre De Sousa after the 3f pole and soon found the strong-travelling Vazire right in behind her but struggling for room on the rail. Rounding the home bend, David Probert pulled the daughter of Frankel away from the rail to find a gap on the outside of the leader and soon kicked away from the chasing pack to go clear as the runners entered the straight. With a furlong to go, Makinmedoit made some late headway and looked a potential threat to the two ahead of her, but the late headway was just that, too late, as Vazire ran on well in the end to score by a cosy length at the post. Having recorded her second win on the Roodee in just under a month, Vazire certainly looks another shrewd purchase for owner George Strawbridge, who has had plenty of Group success in recent years, amassing over £1 million in the last five seasons with his flat runners. Congratulations on another victory, George!
Race 5 – Mappin & Webb Claiming Stakes (Class 4, 4yo+, 7 ½f)
Low stalls and prominent positions once again proved to be a winning formula on the Roodee in Race 5 as Liberation Point was not to be denied under a positive ride from Cieren Fallon, going on to score by 3 ¾ lengths at 2/1. Making all from the get-go, Liberation Point set a decent pace at the head of affairs in the early sections, with the 5/4 Fav Brains sitting just behind, and Perfect Swiss racing out wide with Sunset Salute; struggling after a poor start, Strawberry Jack trailed in fifth place. Facing a strong challenge from Brains and Perfect Swiss as the quintet swung into the straight, Liberation Point quickened readily under Cieren Fallon’s urgings from the 2f marker and soon put a few lengths between himself and Brains. Having looked a threat a furlong earlier, the finishing effort from Brains and Perfect Swiss were soon made to look insignificant as Liberation Point kept on strongly in the final 100 yards of the contest to win impressively. One to keep an eye on may be Strawberry Jack, who despite having been toiling under pressure in rear throughout, managed to stay on into an albeit distant fourth place, relegating Sunset Salute into last place. A young rider making a name for himself, Cieren Fallon rode 84 winners last season, including Group 1 successes aboard Oxted in the July Cup at Newmarket and the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot!
Race 6 – Tomahawk Steakhouse Chester Handicap Stakes (Class 4, 3yo, 1m 2 ½f)
Just the five runners went to post for the finale on Ladies Evening, but it certainly did not disappoint, as the 6/4 Favourite Box To Box came home with a wet sail to prevail by a head at the line, bringing up a quickfire double for Cieren Fallon, and providing new local trainer Hugo Palmer with another Roodee winner. As is the case for many horses ridden by Franny Norton, Luminous Light broke quickly from a low draw and soon led the way, rolling along in front of Box To Box and Killearn; sitting in rear throughout were Griffin Park and Brazilian Beach. Halfway through the contest, Killearn took up the running under Silvestre De Sousa and soon kicked 2-3 lengths clear down the back straight, a lead he maintained as he led the field into the home straight. With Luminous Light, Griffin Park, and Brazilian Beach having nothing more to give in terms of a late challenge, the race was left to be fought out between Killearn and Box To Box in the final furlong, with the latter gradually wearing away the deficit and just about getting his head in front where it mattered. Although plenty of credit deservedly goes to the willing partnership of Fallon and Box To Box, it was also a notably improved performance from Killearn, who will surely be winning races of this nature sooner rather than later. Having recently switched from Newmarket to Cheshire’s Manor House Stables, Hugo Palmer is certainly enjoying plenty of success in his new home having also trained Ever Given to win the Surrey Stakes at Epsom on Oaks Day. Congratulations to Hugo and the team!
Race report by Adam Perkins
The North West Trucks Restricted Novice Stakes (Class 4, 2yo) (For horses in Bands C and D)
Distance: 7f 1y | Prize: £12,597
The Envirosips EBF Fillies' Handicap Stakes (Class 3, 3yo+)
Distance: 1m 2f 70y | Prize: £21,690