Us Brits have been pretty lucky recently with the weather. With temperatures soaring and constant blue skies, it has perfect conditions for a trip to the races. Chester races received lots of criticism for enforcing their dress code despite the warm temperatures but to be fair you needed some form of jacket as the weather seemed to break the night before the race day.
Above our heads clouds threatened to spoil the day’s racing with rain and some droplets did fall but it didn’t make much of an impact on the brilliant atmosphere created by the fabulous racing that Chester had on show for its visitors. Admittedly, the card had none of the star studded quality of Ascot that day or even York but we weren’t disappointed.
Racing kicked off with a novice race for the two year olds and Gabrial The Wire was a hot 8/11 favourite and with good reason too. He had never been out of the top two in his three starts but, in this race, he really disappointed. He never seemed comfortable and his jockey was constantly pushing him along. The eventual winner She Can Boogie bounced out the stalls under Liam Jones and was first of many to make all on her way to victory. She was never challenged and could possibly be a two year old to keep your eye on in the coming months now she has gained her first win. The winning time was less than a second slower than the other five furlongs race on the card for the older horses.
The clouds closed in during the break between the first two races and it got significantly cooler but that didn’t dampen the crowd’s enjoyment of the next race. At the one furlong marker, three horses, Miss Sheridan, Forever A Lady and Mojika, were all in line with Miss Sheridan, the long time leader, just in front of the other two. Mojika wasn’t going to let her win without a fight and the fillies hit the line together with the nosebanded Miss Sheridan prevailing at 9/2 under a great ride by young Harrison Shaw, who had a really successful day at the office with two seconds as well as this win.
The next race had a rather eventful start when Only Spoofing took off leaving the parade ring and it took jockey Andrew Breslin almost two and a half circuits to pull the horse up. It was safe to say the horse gave us a great show as he galloped around the course but I can’t imagine his jockey enjoyed it! His trainer Jedd O’Keefe is more famous for jumpers that his flat horses and in my opinion he should send this horse hurdling- he’s a nice big type and I think he’d enjoy the longer trip!
The race itself was won by Powerrallied, owned by Dr Marwan Koukash under a great ride by Connor Murtagh from the front. The pairing did well to prevail in a three way tousle for the win with Harrison Shaw almost getting a double on the day by almost producing 16/1 outsider Economic Crisis perfectly but was just denied by a neck. Another promising apprentice, Jamie Gormley, got old boy Confessional to grab third. The three of those will mostly likely be winning some time soon.
The next race was only a three runner affair but the winner, Snow Wind, gave a brilliant show! She led from the off under Liam Jones and was never challenged by either of her two rivals- the nicely bred favourite Crystal Moonlight, a half sister of Crystal Ocean, who was second in the King George before this race, and Leannes Lady, a six year old mare who was the outsider of the field and making her flat debut. The winner stalked clear of the 4/7 favourite in the last few furlongs and asserted well, backing up her eight length Ripon victory. I think connections have a lot to look forward to with the fillies who ran in this race. The favourite, Crystal Moonlight, is likely to improve with age and experience like her brother has done.
Most of the jockeys who rode on the card were apprentices as the professionals were engaged elsewhere but the fifth race was just for the claimers. Elisha Whittington gained her second career win on Dragons Tail and gave him a great ride. The horse did well to win off top weight of 10st 1lbs, giving his trainer Tom Dascombe a double on the day after the team’s win in the opening contest. The favourite for the race was Lord Vetinari, who was definitely not on a going day and finished last of the seven runners, over fourteen lengths behind the winner.
Before the next race we could get right up close to the action at the start and we had a great view of them starting at the top of the home straight. There was pretty much level break and Danzay went to the lead and was tracked by Faadhel and Zatorious. Down the home stretch, Danzay and Faadhel traded punches and Faadhel came out on top, crossing the line in front of the Mark Johnston runner and the extremely fast finishing Amazing Michele. She was held up for most of the way and was one of the only horses to make significant ground during the closing stages in the whole day and will be winning soon just more likely on a track that suits hold up horses.
The last race of the day was the longest as it was over one mile five furlongs. Despite the long trip, we were treated to an absolute thriller at the finish with, at one point, about seven horses across the track with a chance of victory. Good Time Ahead came with a late thrust at the line and gave jockey Jack Mitchell a quick fire double. Omotesando got a bit tired and was just headed by the winner in the last few yards and is likely to be winning soon. Jamie Gormley once again almost produced a held up horse to perfection again but Theglasgowwarrior didn’t have the speed to make up the ground and pass the first two. To be fair, he did well to get to the placing he did as I thought he had no chance turning into the straight based on the trends of the previous races.
All in all, it was a really enjoyable first experience at Chester races for me and I think everyone had a good time. The facilities on offer from the racecourse were great and as far as I know there were no incidents like ones at other courses this summer and there were security guards around the course. The only bad thing I picked up on was the amount of litter people had discarded. It’s quite selfish of the racegoers to leave it all behind for the staff to pick up- they brought the things with them so they can take the rubbish home with them or put it in one of the bins on the racecourse.