The ITV cameras are at the Roodeye for the Chester three day May meeting where the ground is currently good to soft but with plenty of showers around this week could easily soften. It’s the Oaks trial today at 14:40. Here’s my thoughts on the day’s terrestrial action.
The Chester three day May meeting kicks off with the 5F Lily Agnes Stakes for two year olds. As always a low draw is mightily important especially on the first two days before the rails are taken in. Local handler Hugo Palmer saddles a brace of runners in the unraced Tierney ridden by Oisin Murphy (stall 5) and last month’s Musselburgh winner Balon D’Or (stall 11). The form of the latter has worked out well with the runner up and fourth both winning since but I could never back a horse drawn out that wide over 5F and I’ll be looking elsewhere for a bet. Amy Murphy’s Myconian has already won a race in France, for which he’s penalised 3lb for today, but disappointed on his British debut. The horse that takes my eye is the Richard Hannon trained Ziggy’s Phoenix who has the best draw in stall one especially as she showed plenty of early toe when making most to win at Ripon on soft ground under Joe Fanning last month. That form is probably slightly inferior to Balon D’Or’s but with the ideal berth can make all if not most. Alice Hayne’s Ziggy’s Dream (watch your betting slips there!) also made all when winning on her racecourse debut at Doncaster 11 days ago and from stall 6 will also be pushing for a share of the lead whilst the Irish challenger Parkside Boy is very hard to get a handle on as he won a four runner maiden on the all-weather at Dundalk last month beating an odds on shot of Aidan O’Briens.
With everything in her favour it’s Ziggy’s Phoenix for me.
ZIGGYS PHOENIX 2 points win @ 11/4 bet365
A dozen three year old speedsters go to post for this class 3 5F 76-95 handicap. Without a doubt the one they all have to beat is the Billy ‘The Kid’ Loughnane ridden Jer Batt who ran out a comfortable winner at Musselburgh under Loughnane ten days ago and as that was an apprentice handicap gets no penalty here. He has however been given the worst draw in 12 and although I’m already a paid up member of the Billy Loughnane fan club this will be his first ever ride at the Roodeye and I will have to give him a swerve here. On a positive note he’ll take a good percentage out of the market and hopefully make others better value.
Democracy Dilemma did it well under Hollie Doyle at Thirsk 18 days ago and she is replaced by 1000 Guineas winning rider of the weekend Oisin Murphy from stall 8. He can run well but there’s a horse who ran against him last time in the Declan Carroll trained Seantrabh who maybe able to turn the tables now with that run behind him (his first for 179 days) and on 10lb better terms (if taking jockey Zak Wheatley’s claim into account). He faded inside the final furlong that day as if the run was needed and the Tasleet gelding obviously enjoys the mud as he ran out a 3L winner on soft at Catterick as a juvenile. With 4 places and from stall 3 he’s my fancy. The George Boughey trained William Buick ridden Danger Alert has claims although was tailed off on his only run here last season (although the bit did slip from his mouth so he had a valid excuse.)
SEANTRABH 1 point each way @ 6/1 bet365 1/5th 1234
Next up is the 1m 3 1/2F listed Cheshire Oaks which has attracted a field of nine. There have been very strong vibes from Ireland over the last fortnight for the Epsom Oaks from the Aidan O’Brien trained Savethelastdance and she’s been backed down into favouritism at around 6/1. She steps up from a maiden win at Leopardstown over 10F on heavy ground six weeks ago to contest this under Ryan Moore with that maiden form working out very well with the two that followed the 2 1/4L winner home winning since.
6 of the 9 hold the Epsom Oaks entry including Ralph Beckett’s Luckin Brew and she maybe the biggest threat to the favourite here. Last seen when runner up to the 100 rated Godolphin colt Local Dynasty in Pontefract’s Silver Tankard Stakes last October she has the assistance of 2000 Guineas winning jockey from the weekend Frankie Dettori in the same partial ownership as Savethelastdance.
This looks all about the favourite and she’s not only a confident selection but it’s worth taking the 6/1 now for the Oaks as a win could see her odds tumble.
SAVETHELASTDANCE 4 points win @ 10/11 Unibet
SAVETHELASTDANCE (Epsom Oaks) 2 points win @ 6/1 bet365
Only five have declared for this year’s renewal of the Boodles Chester Vase, a Group 3 contest run over 1m 4F. We have a very warm favourite in the John and Thady Gosden trained Arrest who can put himself firmly in the Epsom Derby picture by winning. He won’t mind any ease in the ground having chased home the 2000 Guineas 5th Dubai Mile in the Group 1 Criterium de Saint Cloud on heavy ground last October. 6L back in third that day was the Aidan O’Brien trained Adelaide River who re-opposes here and it’s hard, on that piece of form, to believe he can turn the tables on his old rival. He could however chase Arrest home today under Ryan Moore. I find it hard to fancy the other three here all of whom are not entered in the Derby. Duke Of Oxford is unbeaten in two all weather starts but this will be a totally different ball game whilst Galactic Jack has officially 24 lb to find with Arrest and the Charlie Johnstone runner Hadrianus, who was runner up to the favourite’s stable mate Epictetus in the Epsom Derby Trial has a squeak.
This should go to Areest and as he’s too short maybe a forecast for him to beat his old advisory Adelaide River is the bet.
ARREST to beat ADELAIDE RIVER 1 point straight forecast
Another sprint handicap this time over 6F for three year olds in this class 3 71-90 handicap which has attracted a maximum field of fourteen.
Once again the draw is a massive factor when determining the outcome with top weight Frankness, a dual course winner not faring well in stall 12 and is overlooked for that reason only in her first handicap. Likely favourite is the Richard Hannon trained Royal Dress who looked an improver when winning a 6F soft ground novice stakes at Doncaster 12 days ago and from stall 3 on his handicap debut looks to hold a major chance.
George Boughey’s California Gem has claims with a run behind him now and his ability to handle soft ground, the softer the better for him whilst the bottom weight Tasever of Tim Easterby’s is at the right end of the handicap and is well drawn although he’ll need to step up on his recent form to feature here.
One horse I think could run well but only if the rain stayed away is the Adrian Nicholls trained King’s Crown who is unproven on soft ground but ran a stormer for a 40/1 chance on his re-appearance when 5th only beaten 4L in a better class 6F handicap than this at Newmarket that has worked out very well. The runner up that day Yacowlef and third Shoukdhavebeenaring both won nice races last week at Newmarket and from stall 8 is worth a small each way wager on that last run alone.
ROYAL DRESS 1 point win @ 7/2 bet365
KING’S CROWN 1/2 point each way @ 12/1 bet365
Non runner so :
Wolves 7.30 Fair Wind
William Hill 2/11
(I must be coming over as John Robertson's alter ego but the duplication rule on tips shouldn't apply here as I gain no tactical advantage by going for the same horse - in fact a disadvantage as win or lose it ensures I can't catch John on winners tipped and am well behind him on profit for the month)