The Chester Cup (Wednesday 3.10pm) may only be a class-2 handicap, but it is generally perceived to be the focal race of Chester’s May Meeting. It has been run over its current trip of 2-miles 2-furlongs and 147 yards since 1994, and usually produces a pulsating finish, and many hard-luck stories due to Chester’s tight turns.
Six-year-old have been most successful in the last decade with 4 wins, whilst four, five and seven-year-old have all registered two wins. The last 9 winners have all carried between 8-9 and 9-4.
Donald McCain and Richard Fahey have both trained two winners in the last decade, whilst Graham Lee, Ryan Moore, Paul Hanagan and Jamie Spencer have all ridden one of the last ten winners.
There are 17 runners set to go to post for the 2016 renewal.
A step-up in trip has led to 4 consecutive wins on the all-weather, a run which has seen his mark increase from 75 to 104. Interesting to see if he can transfer that improvement to turf. Ideally drawn in stall 2, but top-weight a tough ask.
Finished second off a mark of 88 in 2014, but was only eleventh here last year off his current mark of 104.
Even with his rider’s 5lb claim, he is still 10lb higher than when last successful at Cork. Decent draw in stall 6 though.
Unlucky to bump into Trip To Paris last year, who is now rated 21lb higher. However, he’s 6lb higher himself, and isn’t as well drawn as last year, though impossible to exclude.
Duke Of Clarence
1lb lower than when ninth last year, but still 4lb higher than when only seventh in 2014.
Much better drawn this year than when sixth last year, but difficult to know whether he used up too much energy getting a good early position in last year’s contest, or whether he didn’t truly stay, but it’s probably the latter.
Former Cheltenham Bumper winner hasn’t showed much aptitude for hurdling this winter, but is only 6lb higher than when winning the Irish November Handicap.
William Of Orange
Managed to win over hurdles without looking much good, but has plenty of decent placed form off this sort of mark on the flat. Would have been of more interest from lower draw, but trainer won this in 2011 and 2012.
Rider’s claim means he’s 4lb lower than when second to the decent Seamour, but not been setting the world alight of late.
Gabriel The Hero
Found improvement upped in trip on the all-weather of late, and is ridden for by Paul Hanagan for Chester loving connections.
Stamina to prove, but has been aimed at this since getting-up in the last strides to win here over 15-furlongs. Further step-up in trip should suit, and looks perfectly drawn in stall-3.
Le Maitre Chat
Trainer won the race in 2008 and, although this horse stayed on into sixth in the Cesarawitch, not sure he’s got the pace to win this.
Last 4 runs have been very consistent, and is another who could relish this trip for the first time. Tough looking draw in stall 15 tempers enthusiasm somewhat.
4lb higher than when winning over 12-furlongs, but forays over longer trips haven’t paid much dividend so far.
Poor reappearance for new trainer, and hard to recommend on that evidence.
Just 1lb higher than when fourth last year when not getting the clearest of runs, and also won a class-1 afterwards here of 2lb lower mark over 13-furlongs. Every chance on those runs after a decent reappearance, but a wide draw may make it difficult.
On the same mark as when completing a hat-trick on the flat in 2013, but hasn’t been seen on the flat since. Returned from one injury spell to win a couple of hurdles, but has been poor since returning from another year off. Well drawn though, and trained by Donald McCain.
Steve Rogers looks to have plenty going for him as he’s got good course form, looks sure to enjoy the step-up in trip, is well-drawn, and he should go close. Last year’s runner-up Quick Jack could also go well if getting a decent early position, whilst the prominent racing John Reel should give you a run for your money from a low draw.