Category Archives: Chester

Epsom Classics 2017

Epsom Classics 2017

A quick summer outing for the blog with Classics weekend at Epsom looming. The Oaks (for fillies) kicks comes first on Friday but the 238th running of the Epsom Derby (for both sexes – though it’s usually only colts) is the centrepiece on Saturday.

Northern stables can hardly claim to much success in the big race with Dante being the last horse to bring back the Blue Riband to Yorkshire in 1945.

He was trained in Middleham – just like Mark Johnston’s Permian this year – and I really think this one has very strong claims to end the Northern drought in this race.

He certainly wouldn’t be a stats pick on where he is trained – neither on the fact that he has graduated from a handicap win earlier in his career. What is in his favour is that he is highly progressive and comes here after winning one of the most notable trials – the Dante Stakes in decisive fashion at York last time. That win saw him come through a battle and ultimately win going away at the finish. He looked like a horse who would be even better stepping up to Saturday’s mile and a half trip

In both that and previous races he has looked a horse with good tactical pace – something that often is vital around the Epsom track. With a potentially large looking field, being able to secure a handy spot just behind the pace could be even more invaluable this year.

He has already proved himself around the tricky Epsom track with a close second to Cracksman (reopposing again) here earlier in the season. The form of that race has looked extremely solid – in years past it was a notable trial and for once, it would seem to be doing so again this year.


Permian has probably improved since then but on the bare form it may look like he may struggle to reverse placings with the winner. Cracksman’s big problem for me comes with his breeding. He’s by Frankel out a mare by Champion sprinter Pivotal. That really doesn’t scream a 12 furlong horse and I have a feeling that he may have been winning over his optimum trip on 10 furlongs that day

Another horse in the race, Best Solution, would also seem an unlikely winner on breeding which suggests him to be more of a miler. He confounded that by winning the Lingfield Derby trial impressively. What is notable here though is that he is owned by Godolphin – as are Dubai Thunder and Benbati. William Buick would most likely have the choice of ride of any of these yet has picked Permian (owned by another member of Dubai’s ruling family) who was especially supplemented to the race on Monday at a cost of £85,000.

As usual there is a big representation from Ireland from the Aidan O’Brien stable. While they have strength in number, the lack of choice of a mount yet from Ryan Moore tends to indicate there is no stand out performer amongst them. The market favours Cliffs of Moher most out of the raiding party. This one won the Dee Stakes last time (beating Bay of Poets – 3rd beind Cracksman and Permian at Epsom). He did look to be tapped for toe that day when Max Zorin quickened the tempo up front – that does worry me when it comes to the tactical pace aspect in this race

Eminent, another son of Frankel, is also high up in the betting. He’s the one bringing Group One 2,000 Guineas form into this but was a bit of a disappointing 6th that day. Again stamina here wouldn’t be assured on his pedigree.

For me this is a weak looking Derby. Whilst it is a Group 1 race, I’m not so sure there is a genuine Group 1 mile and a half furlong performer in the race this year. Cracksman may well prove up to that level but I suspect at 2 furlongs less. If such a type were to emerge, then Permian might well find one too good. But in the belief that he definitely won’t find three that good I make him a solid each way proposition

There are two interesting ones at much higher odds that I’ll be backing my main selection up with.

Sylvester Kirk’s Salouen ran creditably at Group level last season. He’s only run once this year when just touched off by the reopposing Khalidi – the latter had race fitness on his side. It’s fairly likely that lack of a run beat him that day yet he is available now at more than twice the odds of his rival.


He wouldn’t like the soft ground that Epsom had earlier in the week but that is drying all of time and 66/1 seems far too big. It’s just the fact that his trainer is less known that is making the odds here

John Gosden’s main hope may be Cracksman but it’s also interesting that Crowned Eagle is still a likely runner here despite his best piece of form being a Windsor handicap win. That day he did look like a Group performer in waiting – and that’s no surprise given he is a sibling of 3 Group race winners at this trip. The main worry again was that he really had to be scrubbed along early in that race to get a good position early – the tactical pace angle may be a problem. He is the one horse in the field who I can most envisage being a Group 1 performer over this distance in time – it may just be too early for him.

The 48 hour declarations for this race will be released tomorrow morning. From then on, Rule 4 deductions could be imposed to prices. Betting now would normally be Ante Post rules and non runners would be deemed losers. There are plenty of firms who do offer Non Runner No Bet and so that could be wise to use in some cases

(odds available here: )


2.5 pts ew Permian 11/1 (Boylesports paying ¼ odds 123)

0.5 pts ew Salouen 66/1 (32 red/888/Unibet – all paying NRNB ¼ odds 123)

0.5 pts win Crowned Eagle – taking 33/1 NRNB here where available – 40/1 is available with Hills but not 100% convinced he will run yet and would prefer comfort of stakes being returned.

Whilst, I am not sure there is a proven Group 1 performer in the Derby, there most definitely is in Friday’s Oaks in the shape of Aidan O’Brien’s 1,000 Guineas runner-up Rhododendron. That form was emphatically boosted by the winner, Winter, last weekend. While her stamina has yet to be proved, she is by Galileo and that has to be a positive. Her ability to act on a track like this is also something we don’t know and would be the main thing that would dissuade me from taking odds of around Evens for her to win. It’s not really that original to pick 2nd fav Enable as her main danger. Stamina looks assured and her impressive win at the tight Chester circuit gives every confidence that this track should hold no fears. The O’Brien stable will no exactly how they stand on that form having had the second Alluringly (reopposes again). The strength of money on the day for the favourite should tell us all we need to know here – the signs so far have all been positive though. 48 hour declarations have already been done for this race earlier today and 10 runners will go to post

No recommendations at current odds though I think the favourite will be hard to beat


Good luck to all with whatever you back this weekend


Thanks for reading




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Chester Cup 2015

chester cup

Chester Cup
Wednesday May 7th
Chester’s tight turning track makes it one of the most draw dependant courses in the country and even it’s marathon distance Cup event is affected.
There’s only a furlong run to the first bend and low drawn runners can quickly secure a good position.
With the declarations and draw out today you are naturally led to look out who has secured the best spots and these are the lucky ones drawn in order from 1 to 6
1.Shu Lewis
2. Gabrials Star
3. Gabrials King
4. Buthelezi
5. Angel Gabrial
6. Mymatechris
You might be forgiven that owner Dr Marwan Koukash did the draw himself at his beloved Chester with 3 of his ‘Gabrial’ horses in the box seats.
However to make best use of this inside draw you really need a horse that can sit prominently and his two main chances – Gabrials King and Angel Gabrial appear to be horses who need to be held up and need some luck in running. I wonder if they could just throw away their advantage
Just look at last year’s run of Angel Gabrial to see how the best horse in the race can get beat – alas video link not available to witness his last to first ‘around the field’ drive only to get run down in the final furlong . I don’t think Jamie Spencer could have done much else with the position he had but he may find himself trapped again and is carrying a massive 15lbs more in this race than he did then.
Dr Koukash also has last years victor Suegioo lining up again but whereas that had an ideal draw 4 last year he is out in the car park at 16 this time round.
Looking through the whole field there are an awful lot of runners who like to come from behind and there could be traffic problems for many.
The race looks set up for something to control the pace from up front and stay out of trouble and I think there are two ideal candidates.
Shu Lewis is unproven over this trip but runs like it shouldn’t be a problem. She’s consistent and has run well enough against better animals to make me think here 100 rating is perfectly fair. At 9 she may look a veteran age but it should be remembered that she only began racing at 5.

Buthelezi has always had plenty of talent having passed through the hands of John Gosden and John Ferguson prior to joining the canny Brian Ellison. He seems to have found some consistency with his new yard. Although up to a rating of 94 after his latest win he was as high as 105 in his younger days
This horse really doesn’t mind being up front and I don’t think they will have to go that strong too early to make full use of this advantage on him.
There is rain forecast on Tuesday and Wednesday but neither selection should mind a bit of give underfoot. It’s only when there is a deluge and the ground becomes really soft that the inside berth advantage starts to be negated – and moreso later in the week as the course is more used

*Tuesday Update – 9mm of rain reported in Chester today and ground now Good to Soft – there could be more tomorrow*
Trip to Paris (drawn 11) was the one I was looking at most before the draw. With not too many pacesetters drawn inside I still wouldn’t totally rule him out. However all his form is on quicker ground and the forecast rain is a bit of a concern there.

Likely favourite Quick Jack will need to have all the breaks being a confirmed hold up horse from stall 9. I would have thought that other long distance handicaps would play more to his strengths this season. He’s bound to travel well but will have a lot of competition to get the gaps at the right time
All firms are currently ¼ odds 1234 – prices are here
There may be some who offer an extra place on the day but I feel that the low drawn will be backed before then
Some early recommendations for the race:
1 pt ew Buthelezi @16/1 (general)
1pt ew Shu Lewis 20/1 (Betfred, SportingBet)
Prices correct at 1530 BST Mon 5th May

Thanks for reading – comments always welcome



Both picks were well backed by the time of the race (17/2 and 11/1 at the off) but while Buthelezi had the earluy postion I had hoped for, neither were ultimately good enough on the day. Rather annoyingly it was Trip to Paris who was a good winner – if the ground had been a little better he might well have been a recommendation!

So the running balance is now 52.53pts from the initial bank of 50pts


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