Racegoers turned out in large numbers for the 2022 edition of Roman Day at Chester Racecourse with good weather forecast and plenty of fun for all the family. The feature race of the day came in Race 4: the ICM Stellar Sports Handicap (Class 2, 7 ½f). Ground conditions were Good (Good to Firm in places) and weather conditions were dry, with sunny intervals throughout the afternoon.
Race 1 – Emmett Hanna Is 50 Novice Stakes (GBB Race) (Class 4, 3yo+, 7 ½f)
The first race of the day provided a shock for punters as 11/1 shot Vazire powered home to victory under Callum Hutchinson by ¾ of a length. Setting the early tempo having broken well from Stall 3, Pat Cosgrave sent Burgoo Beauty to the front, followed closely in-behind by the 5/6 Favourite Razeyna, alongside Vazire in third place. As the runners swung into the home straight, Burgoo Beauty soon gave way to the challenge of Razeyna, ridden by Stevie Donohoe, and the SP Favourite soon set sail for home. However, threats soon emerged out wide, with the strong late run of Vazire (a daughter of the mighty Frankel) and the staying-on effort from Doux Esprit under Andrea Atzeni soon scuppering the chance of the odds-on market leader as they entered the final furlong of the contest. Not to be denied, Vazire soon settled the race in the final 100 yards with a powerful stride, winning a shade cosily from the eye-catching Doux Esprit, and Razeyna, who survived a photo-finish for third place ahead of Postwick. With Vazire providing him with already his eighth winner of 2022, Callum Hutchinson certainly looks to be on the right track to improve on his total of 19 winners in the entirety of 2021. Congratulations Callum and good luck for the remainder of the flat season!
Race 2 – Chester Heritage Festival Fillies’ Handicap (Class 4, 3yo, 6f)
Punters were back in business after Race 2 as the well-backed 13/8 Favourite Origintrail survived a late scare by beating early leader Princess Shabnam in a photo-finish, prevailing by just a head. The lead was shared for much of the contest by Pepper Streak and Princess Shabnam, who both broke sharply from central stalls in 5 and 7. The same could not be said, however, for the previous course winner Russellinthebushes who broke slowly in rear with Torvi. Reaching the 2f pole, with the two leaders still unable to be split, the strong-travelling Origintrail sat quietly in-behind the pair, soon to be played late by Andrew Mullen as the runners made their way into the home straight. Kicking for home ahead of the weakening Pepper Streak, Princess Shabnam soon looked the likely winner, only to be worn down late-on by the determined drive of Andrew Mullen aboard Origintrail, providing a thrilling end to a competitive heat. The hard-luck story was Russellinthebushes, who despite being slowly away, made up a lot of late ground to storm home for third place, eventually 4 lengths behind the first two home. Perhaps better known for being a dual-purpose trainer with a talent for bringing the best out of horses bought from other yards, Ben Haslam has successfully trained over 60 winners on the flat since 2019, and more than 50 winners over jumps in the same time span. Well done, Ben!
Race 3 – tote.co.uk Proud To Support Chester Racecourse Handicap (Class 3, 4yo+, 1m 5 ½f)
More joy for favourite-backers and Frankel progeny came in the third race of the afternoon as the Andrew Balding-trained 7/4 Favourite Spirit Mixer swilled his opponents by a comfortable 2 ½ lengths from the ever-prominent Chase The Dollar. Having to be pushed along to get to the lead, Mancini set the early pace ahead of talented dual-purpose veteran Speedo Boy and Chase The Dollar. Throughout much of the contest, the running order barely wavered, with Spirit Mixer waited-with in rear division alongside Fox Vardy, racing in the popular King Power silks; last of all came previous multiple course winner Heart Of Soul who broke slowest of all and was always playing catch-up with the opposition. Coming to the 2f pole, Callum Hutchinson made his move down the outside of the leaders aboard Spirit Mixer, soon sweeping to the front after a couple of cracks of the whip as the runners made their way home. Late headway from the rallying Fox Vardy (eventually third place) and the determined attitude of Chase The Dollar were simply not enough in the end, and Spirit Mixer soon settled the race to win cosily, providing trainer and jockey with an impressive double on the day. With yet another winner on the Roodee for Andrew Balding, the Newbury-based trainer will be looking forward to what promises to be another successful season, having had plenty of big race success in 2021 including with dual Group 1 heroine Alcohol Free (in the same ownership as Spirit Mixer) in the Sussex Stakes and the Coronation Stakes.
Race 4 – ICM Stellar Sports Handicap (Class 2, 4yo+, 7 ½f)
Course experience proved vital to the outcome of the fourth race as the 11/8 Favourite Boardman, winner of the same corresponding race in 2021, ran out a stylish 1 ¼ length winner under David Allan for Yorkshire trainer Tim Easterby. Breaking well, dual course winner Fools Rush In shot to the lead with Stevie Donohoe aboard, racing a couple of lengths ahead of Mykonos St John and Boardman who led the chasing pack. As the tempo increased rounding the home turn, Jack Duern attempted to steal the race by kicking clear aboard Mykonos St John, with Fools Rush In soon coming under pressure back in second place. However, they were both foiled entering the final furlong of the straight by a strong late run from Boardman, who eventually swept to the front and ran on strongly at the line. Eye-catching headway from Richard Hannon stable star Oh This Is Us and the Franny Norton-ridden Spirit Of Light are worthy of mention, but neither had the pace to quicken where it mattered and were ultimately comfortably beaten in a bunch finish in-behind the leaders. 2021 proved to be a career-best year for Tim Easterby who amassed 136 winners, one of which a Group 3 winner in the shape of Art Power (also ridden by David Allan) in the Ireland Renaissance Stakes.
Unfortunately, after Humanitarian slipped and fell during the fourth race of the afternoon, the remainder of the racecard on Roman Day was abandoned shortly after the fifth race was due to take place. Andrew Tulloch, Clerk of the Course, stated the following of the decision to abandon:
“The stewards held an inquiry with the jockeys following an incident in the last race. After consulting with the jockeys, the safety representatives, and the racecourse, it was concluded that the meeting should be abandoned due to concerns in the last race.
“A horse slipped on the home bend, we had a look at it and carried out a full inspection as is the procedure through BHA guidelines and the stewards came to the conclusion to abandon.”
All ticket holders should have now received email communication regarding tickets for a future 2022 fixture.
Race report by Adam Perkins
Distance: 1m 4f 63y | Prize: £11,400
The Chester Heritage Festival Fillies' Handicap Stakes (Class 4, 3yo)
Distance: 6f 17y | Prize: £11,400
The Tote.co.uk Proud To Support Chester Racecourse Handicap Stakes (Class 3, 4yo+)
Distance: 1m 5f 84y | Prize: £15,365
The Tomahawk Steakhouse Chester Handicap Stakes (Class 4, 3yo)
Distance: 1m 2f 70y | Prize: £11,400
The High Sheriff of Cheshire’s Platinum Proms Handicap Stakes (Class 4, 3yo+)
Distance: 1m 4f 63y | Prize: £11,400