Wednesday 7th May 2mile 2 furlongs & 147 yards
First run in 1824 it took nearly 300 years from the start of racing on the Roodee in 1539 for this annual handicap to be born and in the last 200 years solving the annual riddle hasn’t got any easier.
The Stan James Chester Cup starts the big staying race calendar and because of its proximity to the jumps season it has always been well contested buy those normally seen over timber. Great jumps trainers like Martin Pipe have often targeted this race, with his son David also winning it in 2010. Latterly local jumps trainer Donald McCain has won two of the last 3 runnings and the entries of Northern trainer, Richard Fahey need to be looked at very closely as he has won twice in the last 7 years, including with last years winner Address Unknown.
The history of the race is important when finding the winner as certain horses act around the tight Chester circuit and some don’t. Much of that work is done for you though as it is rare that a trainer hasn’t looked at how his or her charge will perform here, having taken in to account the horse’s previous runnings on tight turning tracks or indeed at Chester itself.
The draw is definitely important, as it is on any round circuit but jockeys say that getting your horse in to a rhythm is the most important aspect of getting the marathon trip. Always run at a good pace as horses look for a tactical position from the start, you really do have to stay and whilst there is no uphill finish the extra, nearly 3 furlongs in excess of 2 miles at the end of the race sees many a front runner coming back to the field.
The ground can be a factor if it comes up very soft as this tends to suit the jumps horses more. However I am delighted to report that currently there is genuinely good ground on the track with a superb covering of grass so no entry should be impeded or unfairly aided, barring a huge amount of rain between now and race day. Thankfully heavy rain isn’t in the long term forecast.
So, taking all these aspects in to account how do we best sum up the likely winners from the 51 entries who are competing for the massive £120,000 prize money on offer. Our way of ploughing through the hopefuls is to use the history of the last 10 years and try to come up with those best suited to this race.
Only two favourites have won in the last 10 years and 9 winners have been returned at odds greater than 6/1. That fact alone doesn’t reduce the list much as Stan James go 7/1 the field at the moment.
Nine of the last 10 winners have won over at least 2 miles so that would appear to be vital.
We are also looking for a horse that carries around 8-10/12 in the race as that has been the average weight carried to victory. So if either El Salvador or Oriental Fox stand their ground then we are looking for a horse with an official rating of between 93-96. Now that clears out a few more from the equation.
The forecast good ground I think rules out the jump bred horses and means we are looking for tactical, flat speed and I’m not keen on 4 year olds in this race as they have only won twice in the last 14 years. Six year olds have been the most successful with 50% of winners since 2000.
I am also not going to consider any horse that hasn’t had a run this season as I feel it is a rare animal that can be prepared to win a competitive race like this over this trip, first time out.
When applying all these principles we start to look at our first crop of possibles and this is our shortlist.
- Sir Graham Wade – Trained by Middleham Maestro, Mark Johnston DNR
- Ardlui – another of the Yorkshire training stronghold for Tim Easterby DNR
- Angel Gabriel – completes the White Rose triumvirate with that man Richard Fahey
- De Rigueur – For genius Italian Marco Botti DNR
- Communicator – for the very in form Andrew Balding
- Clowance House – for Roger Charlton
From this list of possibles and after final declaration our three against the field are
1. Communicator. Course winner and from a stable currently in great form has a great draw of 2 for good track position, also has the assistance of Superstar claimer Oisin Murphy on board: Available at 14/1 Sportingbet
2. Angel Gabriel– Winner last time out where he dispelled any rumours about not staying and set up by master trainer Richard Fahey for owner Dr Marwan Koukash who comes mob handed to try and wrestle the big handicap prize he so coverts. Master tactician Jamie Spencer knows his way around Chester. 10/1 Betvictor
3. Clowance House. I think this horse is going to be a force to reckon with in 2 mile racers this year and this could be the start of his journey for trainer Richard Charlton. Has a trciky draw to over come but if they go too quickly he may pick them all off at the back of the field. 16-1 Sportingbet
- All that’s left now is to dust down the suit and tie, get the tickets and come and enjoy one of the best distance handicaps of the year – The Stan James Chester Cup.