Miracles are Made at Boodles May Festival on Sportpesa Chester Cup Day
Making Miracles lived up to his name as a decisive front-running performance with Franny Norton doing the steering around a rain-soaked Chester Racecourse resulted in an impressive six-length win for the four-year-old who was followed home by Who Dares Wins.
“It’s hard to describe, the horses behind were having a tough time behind Franny who was cantering round in front. We thought the draw might be a struggle, but I saw Franny get across without too much effort and relax in front of the melee behind him, who were in trouble. Franny brims with confidence,” explained trainer Mark Johnston who, together with Norton, were recording a quick double.
Racing got under way with the seven-furlong Liverpool Gin Earl Grosvenor Handicap. Using the inside draw to her advantage, jockey Jane Elliott quickly had 12/1 chance Sha La La La Lee in a prominent position running the rail, with Ptarmigan Ridge occupying second place. Despite drifting across the course in the final stages, Elliott had sufficient in hand to win by one and a quarter lengths from Gabrial The Saint.
“We were desperate to train a winner. Probably it was fortunate that he did not win at Lingfield, he’d have gone up in the handicap. Jane is a hard worker and a good jockey, she got him there and that’s what it’s all about!
The day of doubles continued in the White Oak UK Conditions Stakes when Jane Elliott played a certain song with She Can Boogie to win decisively by three and a half lengths. “I’m very pleased - she’s got a great owner who said you can do what you like, it made life easier. It’s funny how things work out, we’ve done the right thing (by deciding not to run Kachy). What a hardy filly she is, that’s what it’s all about. She goes on any ground, she’s honest and tough and does anything to please you. She has a heart, if all my horses were like that my job would be easy. Jane is a brilliant jockey and now she’s had two winners at Chester!” said Dascombe.
“This meeting is very important to the yard; we are based down the road and Chester Racecourse generates lots of interest. We need results here, you get stall one, you get a winner!” added Dascombe.
“Have saddle will travel!” said trainer Richard Fahey after landing the Group 2 Homeserve Huxley Stakes for the second year in succession with Forest Ranger, sent off at 9/2. “Turning in I knew it would be tough, but he does pick up and he galloped to the line. After winning a Group 2 it is difficult to place him, it makes it tough, we will probably look abroad,” added Fahey. As the race progressed Success Days led the field but jockey Tony Hamilton was handily placed aboard Forest Ranger in second place and had the pace to open-up a winning margin of three-quarter of a length.
A trademark Franny Norton ride was, once again, successful in the Boodles Diamond Handicap. Epaulement was the early leader with the field closely bunched behind him and he was heading for home with a reducing margin as Norton cajoled Aquarium for a final effort approaching the post, the 13/2 chance responded with a late surge to record a half-length victory. Mark Johnston, the trainer explained: “Franny was expecting the other horse to take him further, so it was plan B and a great ride. This was one of our good draws of the meeting and we thought it might be the wrong horse, because he’s always slowly away.”
“I’m delighted, it’s been a long three days without a winner,” said Chester Racecourse stalwart Marwan Koukash after landing the English Fine Cottons Apprentice Handicap with the 7/2 favourite Heart Of Soul. The four-year-old was smartly away and made all the running, pulling further clear in the closing stages to win unopposed by four-lengths. Winning jockey Cameron Noble added: “I got a beautiful ride and was happy in front. I kicked three from home and there was plenty left in the tank. He jumped sharp and held it well.”
The final race of the meeting was the Sportpesa Chester Plate which resulted in the 13/8 favourite Coeur De Lion goimg one better than in this race 12-months ago with a decisive five-length success. “This little lad had had enough running on firmer ground last season and had the winter off. He came back and we wanted to get in this race. He could handle the conditions. We’d only go to Ascot if it was soft,” commented successful trainer Alan King.
23,059 people enjoyed the afternoon’s action and the total attendance over the three-day Boodles May Festival totalled 56,537. The next meeting in the calendar is Roman Day on Saturday, 25 May 2019 when Our Story Continues at Chester Racecourse.