Michael Owen had to be there for thrilling finishes and living legend Confessional at Chester Racecourse 32Red Autumn Festival
Wild Edric was promptly away to lead the field throughout in the opening race of the second day of the Autumn Festival, MBNA / EBF Stallions Novice Stakes and accelerated clear for jockey Alistair Rawlinson by three and a half lengths. The second placed horse, Zip, was unable to close. “He’s a home-bred of the owners and it’s lovely for them to have a winner here. He’s always been quickly away but went too early last time out. Richard (Kingscote) said bring him back to a turning track, today was an ideal opportunity. He handled the ground and we might see him quite a bit here at Chester Racecourse next year,” said Tom Dascombe’s assistant trainer Colin Gorman.
Ex-footballer Michael Owen was in the winners’ enclosure, he said: “We all know the barriers with horses. We have to dare to dream. I’ve done 29-hours travelling to get here, I had to get here. My mum dropped me off at the course!”
“I thought we’d got beat!” said trainer Luke Dace after landing the Read Josephine Gordon Blog At unibet.co.uk.blog Handicap with Ravenous, returned at 5/1 and ridden by in-form Poppy Bridgewater. “He’s in good form and been unlucky. The horse that beat him earlier in the season has gone on to win three races on the bounce, he proves it and does it every time,” added Dace. There was a steady early pace in the race with Zafayan at the head of the field, Faithful Mount challenged and the winner was brave to come through the gap between the leaders, getting up on the line.
“He’s a lovely horse and it’s great to get a chance to ride him. I ride out regularly for Roger (Varian). He said to have him handy. He hangs left and I wanted to get him against the rail. He stays and likes the ground,” explained jockey Trevor Whelan after landing the 32Red Stand Cup Stakes, which is the biggest success of his career to date. Franny Norton had his mount, Hochfeld in a handy position and led the field until Whelan went inside Norton on the final bend aboard the top weight Blakeney Point, sent off at 9/2, he then galloped clear to land the race by one and a half lengths.
The 32Red Casino Nursery Handicap developed into a thrilling finish as the two Tom Dascombe trained runners headed for home only to be denied success as jockey Harry Bentley closed in aboard the 11/4 chance Dave Dexter to snatch the race on the line by a head and relegate Blyton to second place. Bentley said: “He was outpaced for most of the race but they came back to me when it mattered – but I didn’t think I was going to get there!”
Confessional is almost a standing-dish at Chester Racecourse and he retains the ability to win a six furlong race at the age of eleven. In start number 129 of his career and sent off at 16/1, Confessional came wide and galloped clear of the leader Bossipop and his rivals to land the Stardust Liverpool Handicap Stakes by one and a quarter lengths. Jockey Nathan Evans said: “He jumped and travelled well, they went some gallop but he loves it round here.” William Easterby, representing the trainer said: “He’s a legend, he knows the routine. In the morning he’ll be banging the stable door to be let out and go in the field.”
Dark Intention was in the shadows of the leaders for most of the Innospec Handicap Stakes until jockey Paula Muir asked the mare for a final late surge and she got up on the line, recording a winning margin of three quarters of a length over Pastoralk Player. Successful trainer Lawrence Mullaney explained: “She’s won here before, but I was worried about the draw. Paula never gave up, she never stopped riding; it was great. She’s won at York this year and might go back there in October. Potentially she might then be sold as a brood mare.”
Jockey Kevin Stott rode Cornborough, returned at 12/1 to a one and a quarter length victory in the Chester Bet Handicap Stakes. Long time leader Instant Attraction occupied second place. “He’s a consistent horse and Jamie Spencer rode him last time, he said put a visor on him and drop him back to a mile and a quarter and he’ll win – and he did! He’s very versatile and goes over hurdles too, there’s always a race for him,” explained winning trainer Mark Walford.
14,322 racegoers enjoyed the fixture, a 10% increase from the same fixture in 2017.
A 2019 Chester Racecourse fixture list is now available here.
The final meeting at Chester Racecourse is the Golden Square Shopping Centre Season Finale which takes place on Saturday, 29 September 2018. Purchase your tickets and badges online here.