Chester Cup Preview

Chester and this race are steeped in history.

By Samantha



The Chester Cup is most people’s favourite race of the Chester’s May meeting. Ran over two miles and two furlongs, it is a marathon race as far as flat races go and often attracts National Hunt trainers to run their horses in this. Another enticing thing is the prize money. For first place, the prize fund is £92,385, roughly £30,000 less than what the Grade One King George VI Chase’s prize fund is and that’s a Grade One National Hunt race. Another trend is that the winner tends to come from lower draws which benefits most of the most fancied runners. Let’s take a look at the runners:-

Fun Mac was best placed in this race last year coming third. He has last year’s winning jockey, Oisin Murphy, on board and the horse’s last win came in July 2017 at Maisons-Laffitte in a Listed race over just under two miles. That day, he had Vent De Force, his stable mate, in behind. Stamina shouldn’t be an issue as he stayed on in the last furlong of this race last year so he is a definite contender. His form hasn’t been brilliant since though.

Who Dares Wins, from Alan King’s yard, was half a length behind Fun Mac in fourth, in this last year. He has since been third in the Ascot Stakes but failed to impress in his next race here at Chester where he was tenth behind My Reward. He won the Cesarewitch trial race at Newmarket but couldn’t back that up in the actual race. He spent the winter hurdling and finished fifth and third at the two big festivals, Cheltenham and Aintree. He has a nice weight but stall fifteen will be hard to win from.

Magic Circle is another runner from a National Hunt trainer. He has been a good horse for connections so far, winning six of his nineteen career starts. He hasn’t been seen since finishing third in the Cesarewitch with Who Dares Wins and Dubawi Fifty ahead of him. He won a handicap at York off 97 with My Reward second and Saigon City in sixth. He is at an almost career high mark of 101 but has a decent draw and that will help him.

My Reward is a very decent horse who won the Chester Stakes here last year over one mile five furlongs. He has had three starts since and has ran well in each including last time out over two miles when he was third. He weakened in the last few furlongs in that race and has only contested two miles two once in his career when he was twenty-ninth in the 2016 Cesarewitch. He has the inside stall and a nice weight but the trip is a worry.

Nakeeta won the 2017 Ebor at York and then went to the Melbourne Cup and came fifth in that. He was second by a short head in this in 2016 behind No Heretic so he stays the trip. He has top weight of 9st 10lbs but Callum Rodriguez takes off 3lbs and he is a very good claimer. Stall 13 isn’t brilliant for his chances.

A horse with a good draw is Stargazer. Since the turn of the century, five horses have won coming from stall four and that is where he will line up on Friday. He moved from Sir Michael Stoute’s yard to Philip Kirby’s yard and ran first time out for them in March and finished a good second over two miles he has shown some inexperience on both starts for the Kirby team but based on that run, seems as though he wouldn’t mind the step up in trip. Dubawi Fifty was the 5/6 favourite for that race but was a neck behind Stargazer in third. That was after he won a class two handicap over two miles in February. He stayed on well that day and makes his return to turf. He was fourth in the Cesarewitch and he had Who Dares Wins, Magic Circle, Time To Study, Fun Mac and Watersmeet all behind him that day.

Since then, Watersmeet has won three races on the All-Weather and has proven himself to be a good stayer. He has raced over two miles two once in this last year when he finished sixth. He is still progressing despite the fact that he is seven years old. A downside is that he seems more of an All-Weather specialist as eleven of this thirteen career starts have come on an artificial surface. He has a nice draw in two though. Time To Study is Mark Johnston’s other runner. He is only four and looks progressive. His only try over two miles two furlongs was in the Cesarewitch, when he finished seventeenth. He was second on bottomless ground on his seasonal debut over one mile five and then followed that up with another second in a Group Three over one mile seven furlongs, beaten by the classy Torcedor. The trip will be an issue for him but he has form at Group level so that puts him in the picture.

Silver Cocorde won the Champion Bumper for Robbie McNamara


SILVER CONCORDE has winning form over this trip and further over hurdles. He has been a good hurdler after switching to Keith Dalgleish’s yard. He has won three of his five novice hurdle starts for him over the winter. For Dermot Weld, he won the Champion bumper in 2014. He is three from eight runs on the flat and was third in this race in 2016. He is my selection because he has barely any weight to carry and an okay draw in nine. A kink in his armour would be the fact that he is ten years old and no ten year olds have won it since last century. Despite this, he has been absolutely flying recently and comes from a good yard.

Jukebox Jive is also a novice hurdler but he is a lot younger. This four year old has ran eleven times on the flat winning three and twice over hurdles winning once. His debut hurdle win came over two miles and a furlong but he stayed on well in the finish so this trip shouldn’t be a problem. He was fourth over two miles behind Watersmeet in January and won on his first start over two miles two by a short head in July.

Shadow Sadness is having his first start for Oliver Greenall. He has won four times in Germany and France. The furthest trip he has ran over is one mile six so this looks tough for his English debut. Saigon City has won once over two miles but is yet to race over further. He was sixth behind Magic Circle at York in August 2017and was ninth in a Nottingham Listed Race over one mile six so he will most likely struggle in this. Vent De Force was eleventh in that race. He has won over two miles but it doesn’t look like he could win this.

Cayirli won last time out over one mile seven furlongs at Kempton last time out after a 537 day break. He could improve from that run but his draw ruins most of his chances of winning. Prince Of Arran won in Meydan over the Winter over two miles. He has a step up in trip to contend with but has a decent draw.

Grandee used to be with Jessie Harrington and now he’s with David O’Meara. He hasn’t contested a race of this length before so it looks as though he will struggle. Only one of his sire’s flat progeny have won over fourteen furlongs so that is a further dampener on his chances.

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