Three days of excellent handicap action to complement the various Derby and Oaks trials come to an end on Friday with the highlight of the afternoon being the valuable Chester Cup.
One of the betting highlights of the season, this race has produced some top class staying types capable of going on to Group race success and we may just be about to see another one. Here are the main contenders as we see it:
Karen McLintock stayer has a nice weight and a rather middling draw though with the assistance of champion jockey Silvestre De Sousa he may well be able to get a good position early.
The five-year-old ran a decent race at Newcastle on the Tapeta in a small field last time out and can improve in this sort of company; however he may just not be well enough handicapped to mark him out as a definite winner of this sort of race at this point in time.
I thought it was interesting to note that, when with Jessica Harrington in Ireland, he ran his best race as a young horse last season when upped to 1m6f and certainly seems a good stayer for the future.
Now that he has joined David O’Meara there are several positives to note; his trainer is well adept at improving new recruits, he will improve for going up in trip, he can get better when chased up by a bigger field and ran he ran a very encouraging stable debut over 1m4f at Ripon last month.
There’s no way he was fully found up for his seasonal reappearance and he looks a 4yo of some potential over Cup distances so, from stall 3 under the excellent Danny Tudhope, has an outstanding chance of landing this pot off a mark of 100.
Backed off the boards in the run-up to the race, potentially by Chester-loving owner Dr Marwan Koukash, he makes his stable debut for Ian Williams in this and holds some sort of a chance for sure.
Fifth in this race last year from a bad draw, his stall position in number 6 is certainly a positive though I can’t help thinking a prep run would have seen him in with a better chance this year.
As a confirmed front-runner his gate 1 draw would appear to be a huge boost for connections, however in having to be chased up early to keep that position could make him vulnerable to late finishers from the pack as he tires.
He won a good race round the Roodee last September and even as a 6yo can get better yet so there are plenty of ticks in plenty of boxes as he bids to give jockey David Allan a well deserved big race success.
Unlucky according to many to not keep the race having been disqualified and placed second at Newcastle last time out over a mile-and-a-half, that race being his second after a comeback from an 18-month break.
The former Sir Michael Stoute inmate could yet get better on the turf but in this sort of company really needs to rediscover some of the pace he showed back in 2016 in order to get a good racing position in this contest. That remains possible though and he looks very good value for a place.
Never discount a Mark Johnston horse in a big staying handicap like this and, having been running well on the all-weather of late, we can’t say Watersmeet is not in good form right now.
He ran sixth in this race last year when once again fit from the all-weather but I don’t believe he has improved quite enough to be entitled to win it now despite being a couple of pounds lower in the handicap.
Given the money which has piled in this week I cannot discount Magic Circle who would appear to have been prepared well for this outing, though for me we could see extra from Stargazer and especially from GRANDEE.
There is untold potential for the latter named four-year-old now going up in trip, in a competitive field and with an excellent trainer who knows how to unlock improvement from horses acquired from other yards.