More than 17,000 guests took to the Roodee on Tote Roman Day 2023, with horses and warriors to be seen in the centre of the course, as well as on the track. The feature race of the day came at 4:05pm in the tote.co.uk Bet £5 Get £20 Handicap where a familiar face would come to the fore. Ground conditions changed from Good, to Good (Good to Firm in places) after the first race.
Race 1 – tote.co.uk £250K Guaranteed Placepot Every Saturday Novice Stakes (GBB Race) (Class 4, 3yo+, 7 ½f)
Favourite backers were in clover rather early on Tote Roman Day when well-punted 6/4F Alsakib came home a ready winner of the first race under Harry Davies for trainer Andrew Balding, the 2-year-old swooping late to claim the prize by a length. Racing keenly throughout the early stages, Alsakib was positioned towards the rear of midfield under Harry Davies, the field headed by Kintaro (6/1) for the majority. Coming towards the 2f pole, Alsakib was yet to make a move on the field, biding his time behind horses before switching out wide on the turn into the straight, pursued closely by fellow market rival Orchid Bloom (15/8) in between horses. Full of running and keen to press on, Alsakib swept down the outside of the field to snatch the lead with a furlong to go, early leader Kintaro now struggling to keep up the gallop. With the winning post in sight, Alsakib was not for passing in the closing stages, the Kingman colt sticking his neck out bravely to see off a late flurry from Orchid Bloom in the final 50 yards; Kintaro came home a gallant third. After a stunning rookie season in 2022 which reaped 67 winners, Harry Davies is already off to a flyer in 2023 with 11 winners, including the Barry Hills Further Flight Stakes (Listed) aboard Rajinsky in Nottingham!
Race 2 – British EBF 40th Anniversary Maiden Stakes (GBB/IRE Incentive Race) (Class 2, 2yo, 6f)
Claiming his first Roodee victory of the season in emphatic style, Franny Norton merely had to steer home Politico (13/2) in the second race of the afternoon, the colt out of Blue Point coming home victorious by an impressive 3 ½ lengths at the line. Keen to make it a test, Politico raced in a clear lead throughout the second race, holding sway ahead of Sioux Warrior (5/2) and Havanarama (9/2) for the most part, with market leader Battaah (2/1F) kept to mid division. Travelling ominously well with two furlongs to go, Politico cruised further clear around the home bend, his rider fairly motionless in the saddle. Fully in command with a furlong to go, Politico galloped on relentlessly under hands and heels riding from Franny Norton, the King of Chester barely having to draw the whip aboard his mount, who rapidly secured his maiden victory in superb style; Sioux Warrior held off a late run from Battaah for second place. Not the first Saeed Al Qassimi-owned horse to score for the Johnston stable, Arctic Sound also won the Tattersalls Stakes (Group 3) for the stable in 2018!
Race 3 – Net World Sports Handicap (Class 5, 4yo+, 2m)
A game attitude and a willing partner proved to be a winning formula in Race 3, when Scottish Dancer (9/2) battled on bravely under Billy Garrity to hold off the challenge of Pons Aelius (11/8F) in the shadows of the post, taking home the spoils for Keith Dalgleish. Always prominent from the outset, Scottish Dancer raced behind course regular Heart Of Soul (25/1) through most of the early fractions, with Pons Aelius and Capone (3/1) content to race in midfield as the runners made their way through the first circuit of the marathon 2m trip. As Heart Of Soul dropped away rather tamely passing the 3f marker, Pons Aelius took the opportunity to cruise up alongside new leader Scottish Dancer around the final bend, the pair locked in battle as the home straight loomed. With a late run out wide from Capone adding more spice to the race a furlong from home, the trio up front looked set to fight out a close finish, with Pons Aelius narrowing holding sway as the winning post drew ever closer. However, rallying well up the inside rail in the final 100 yards, Scottish Dancer found his second wind under Billy Garrity’s urgings, the consistent 4-year-old bravely thrusting his neck out at the line to come home a narrow victor ahead of Pons Aelius, with Capone a further ½ length behind. A dual-purpose trainer who had yet another solid season in 2022, Keith Dalgleish also claimed two Listed prizes last season, scooping both the Cammidge Trophy and the Harry Rosebury Stakes!
Race 4 – tote.co.uk Bet £5 Get £20 Handicap (Class 2, 4yo+, 7 ½f)
It was a case of déjà vu once again on Roman Day when Boardman (6/1) won the feature race for a third year in succession, delivered to perfection by Phil Dennis to win going away by 3 lengths for trainer Tim Easterby. Blocked when trying to gain a more prominent position, Boardman was kept in last place throughout the feature race, with Paws For Thought (4/1) and Austrian Theory (33/1) occupying the lead at the other end of the field. Still behind a wall of horses as Paws For Thought began to come back to the field rounding the turn into the straight, Boardman still had a lot of work to do from his unpromising position, with On A Session (10/1) the only one from the rear with an opportunity to go forward and challenge the leaders. However, after passing the furlong marker, Phil Dennis made his move on Boardman, switching his mount out widest of all and using the stand side rail as guide. Settling the race in a matter of strides, Boardman found a burst of speed when needed, quickly kicking away from his pursuers in the closing stages to come home an easy winner; On A Session held on for second place ahead of Austrian Theory. Also steering home Ornate in the 2019 Epsom Dash, Phil Dennis is operating at a solid 10% strike-rate this season with 14 winners so far!
Race 5 – Chester Heritage Festival Fillies Handicap (Class 4, 3yo, 6f)
Another familiar winner came in Race 5 when Radio Goo Goo (5/4F) continued his hot streak and scored by a neck, his victory at Haydock 2 days prior now sandwiched by two wins on the Roodee: what a couple of weeks for trainer David Evans! Sharp out the gates and keen to set the pace, Radio Goo Goo flew into an early lead under Ben Curtis, challenged closest of all by Corinthian Kid (100/1), with Absolutelyflawless (10/1) and Distinguished Lady (20/1) bringing up the rear. Tanking along in the lead as the field made their way past the 2f marker and into the home straight, Radio Goo Goo was kicked on by Curtis with the furlong pole in sight, with Corinthian Kid now under a firm ride. Shortly after entering the final furlong, it was apparent that late surges from Absolutelyflawless and Distinguished Lady could put paid to the leader’s hattrick attempt, the latter flying down the stand side rail and responding well for pressure. However, having got first run on the field around the home turn, Radio Goo Goo was always doing enough in front and stayed-on pluckily in the closing stages to see off both Absolutelyflawless and Distinguished Lady in gritty fashion, the trio separated by less than half a length at the line. A jockey who has ridden more than 90 winners every year since 2018, Ben Curtis also won the Queensferry Stakes (Listed) at the track in 2022 aboard Ebro River!
Race 6 – tote Fantasy Who’s In Your Stable Handicap (Class 4, 3yo, 1m 2 ½f)
Franny Norton was as it again in the penultimate race on the card, making all the running aboard progressive handicapper Perfect Play (9/4F) by 2 ¼ lengths to provide Charlie Johnston with a double on Roman Day. Quickly out the starting stalls and keen to set the pace at the head of affairs, Perfect Play dictated from the very start under Norton, pursued closely by Dragonball Prince (18/1) and Razoni (4/1) through the opening seven furlongs, with Orange Martini (9/2) racing in last place. As Dragonball Prince began to feel the pinch around the home turn, Norton stole a couple of lengths on the field with just over a furlong to race, kicking Perfect Play into a clear advantage as Razoni tried to pull back the deficit under Kevin Stott. Now in prime position, Perfect Play made no mistake in the final furlong, extending further clear with every stride and barely having to be pushed out by his rider to take home the spoils in comfortable style; Razoni held on for second place ahead of the staying-on Orange Martini from rear division. Impressive in victory, Perfect Play looks to be another interesting project for owners Newsells Park Stud, whose Manaccan finished second at Chester in 2022 before going on to win twice at Listed level and once at Group 3 level in a stellar season!
Race 7 – Roman Day Community Zone Handicap (Class 4, 3yo+, 1m 4 ½f)
A swooping late run from The Nu Form Way (9/1) quickly sealed the deal in the final race of the day, the previous course winner kicking on strongly in the final furlong to score by 1 ½ lengths under Kevin Stott for trainer Stella Barclay. Drawn wide, Stott quickly dropped out The Nu Form Way upon leaving the starting stalls, keeping his mount in rear division alongside Chillhi (13/2) and Lizzie Jean (12/1), with the field being led by Blistering Barney (25/1) at a modest tempo. Stalking the leaders but still towards the rear with three furlongs to go, The Nu Form Way raced on the outside of the pack as Blistering Barney gave way up front, Wynter Wildes (18/1) now taking aim and kicking on into a narrow lead as the field rounded the final bend. Gathering a head of steam with little more than a furlong to negotiate, Stott manoeuvred The Nu Form Way around the outside of the field to deliver a stern challenge, his mount rapidly surging into the lead after a couple of reminders. With victory seemingly on the horizon, The Nu Form Way stuck his neck out determinedly in the closing stages, the progressive 5-year-old eventually seeing out his race well to record his second win at the track; Lizzie Jean stuck on well to finish second ahead of Chillhi in third. With 51 winners already in the bag for 2023, including the Craven Stakes aboard Indestructible, Stott is flying along this season!
Race report by Adam Perkins
THE TOTE £250K GUARANTEED PLACEPOT EVERY SATURDAY NOVICE STAKES (CLASS 4, 3+yo)
Distance: 7f 127y | Prize: £10,000
THE BRITISH EBF 40TH ANNIVERSARY MAIDEN STAKES (CLASS 2, 2yo)
Distance: 6f 17y | Prize: £25,000
THE tote.co.uk BET £5 GET £20 HANDICAP STAKES (CLASS 2, 4+yo)
Distance: 7f 127y | Prize: £50,000
THE CHESTER HERITAGE FESTIVAL FILLIES' HANDICAP STAKES (CLASS 4, 3yo)
Distance: 6f 17y | Prize: £12,000
THE TOTE FANTASY WHO IS IN YOUR STABLE HANDICAP STAKES (CLASS 4, 3yo)
Distance: 1m 2f 70y | Prize: £12,000