As an attraction, Chester Racecourse remains popular with sold out signs up in advance of the meeting for all enclosures apart from the Open Course at the Matthew Clark Ladies Day meeting.
Action began with the Matthew Clark EBF Fillies’ Novice Stakes and the capacity crowd responded to an exciting dual between Shouldavbeenmore, who had gone on from the early leader Invigilate. Lady Caroline was the back marker before coming through horses, racing wider and closing on the leader with every stride. The photo finish confirmed the 5/2 chance had won by a nose on the line. Trainer Tom Dascombe said: “We were shouting for her, but we thought she’d got beaten. John is very good round here; he knows how to ride the track. We’ve proved that today you can afford to come right, there is no cutaway.” Jockey John Egan added: “She came up in the stall, so I had to pray for plan B. She ran a nice race; I was happy with the fresh ground.”
The Laurent-Perrier Cuvee Rose Handicap Stakes was almost a re-run of the opener with a further challenge playing out in the closing stages and emphasised the well-being of the local stables at Manor House Farm. Ffion was the early leader but could not sustain the pace as Titan Rock went on but was unable to maintain the advantage as Foolsrush In, returned at 10/1 swooped with a late burst of speed to get up on the line by a head. “He was very gutsy in the finish and probably enjoyed the ease in the ground,” said jockey Tom Eaves. The going was changed from good to good to soft after this race. Celebrating a double Tom Dascombe remarked: “I’m not sure about it being any easier than the win in the first, but it’s a great result!”
“I came wide again, because on the inside the ground is slower. She’s as game as anything and still a big baby, she should go on. It’s never easy to beat Franny at Chester!” was the summary provided by John Egan who was aboard the 7/4 favourite Yesyes in the feature race, the £50,000 Stella Artois Chester Stakes. Franny Norton’s mount, Dancing King got across to the inside rail and raced with his ears pricked at the head of the seven-runner field and was heading for the line. However, Yesyes had the pace to go the longer way round into the straight and overhaul her rival by a short head.
One length was the winning margin recorded by Sadmah, returned at 4/1, in the Grolsch Premier Pilsner EBF Fillies’ Conditions Stakes. The winner was drawn in stall one and was the pace setter. Little Miss Dynamo challenged but ran off a straight line, losing ground. Jockey Tom Eaves was recording a double and explained: “I was given a free rein to race wherever she was comfortable, she’s gone on and gave me a real good feel. She pricked her ears when the crowd hits you, she’s a bit green. The ground is a bit chewed on the inside, so I came wide.”
Sunday Sovereign proved his value when recording a one-length victory in the Beefeater Gin Handicap Stakes. “It was his first run at Chester, and we came wider because there were horses on the inside. He travelled strongly and saw the race out well,” said successful jockey Rob Hornby. Aplomb broke smartly and set a good gallop, eventually finishing third. Gabrial The Devil made up ground but could not match the finishing pace of the 5/1 winner.
“That’s my first winner at Chester,” enthused jockey Rowan Scott in the winners’ enclosure following the Belvedere Organic Infusions Handicap Stakes when the entire field racing away from the inside rail. He was referring to Night On Earth, a 7/2 chance, who overhauled the early leaders Kim Wexler and Bert Kibblers with a late surge to open up a margin of two and a quarter lengths passing the post. “He’s always shown plenty at home and not quite been doing it on the track. The softer ground – that’s what’s done it!” added Scott.
Racing concluded with the Jam Shed Handicap Stakes and a noteworthy treble for local trainer Tom Dascombe. Top weight Mancini raced in front, followed by Arabist with the field again racing wider. Jockey Jane Elliott went inside the leader to ensure she had a clear run aboard Solent Gateway, sent off at 3/1, and the partnership was not extended to score readily by three quarters of a length. Elliott explained: “I didn’t have to do much; he’s seen it out well. He likes a quirky track and races quite lazily, he’s got scope. Tom’s horses have kicked into gear now!”