I’m going to Chester on Saturday for their “Season Finale” so here is, for me, an unusual analysis of a minor weekend card on the flat. It comprises one Class 2, one Class 3 and five Class 4s. The anticipated going is soft, heavy in places with rain forecast on the day and there is of course the famous draw bias to take into account. The highest rated runner is on 99 and the lowest on 34. Putting aside Sunday’s Chantilly European finale I think that I might have more of a chance with Newmarket’s Cambridgeshire card, Haydock’s rerouted Ayr Gold Cup, a fair old card over jumps at Market Rasen and a really good National Hunt meeting at Gowran including the Grade 2 Pwc Champion Chase. I’ll also be keeping an eye out for the €189,000 Prix du Cadran at Chantilly. So, a challenge, but here goes! Tips referred to are the newspaper selections
2.30 2yo Novice Auction Stakes 7f Class 4
Marwan Koukash is a Chester devotee and he runs 9/4 favourite Gabrial The Saint** (drawn 1 and 4 tips). I tend to avoid Koukash horses at Chester because he favours running his horses here, regardless of their merits. However, this one is in the care of one of my favourite flat trainers, Richard Fahey, and has room for improvement, his only previous outing being a second here when running green. Book of Dreams (drawn 2) and Ayutthaya (drawn 3 and 9 tips) are the threats.
3.05 Handicap 7f Class 4 (0-85)
Dark Devil* (7/2 drawn 5 and 6 tips) is a course winner, in an amateur event, and another Richard Fahey trained horse with form on heavy ground. A tentative selection. These are all very closely matched on Timeform ratings (99-104) so take your pick.
3.40 Handicap 1m 2f Class 3 (0-90)
This is an attritional process of elimination. Itsakindofmagic and Pumaflor both have Timeform squiggles (i.e. they are suspect). Gulf of Poets ran badly last time out. Gabrial’s Kaka (4th to Bahama Moon at Chester) and Jabbaar appear to prefer good to firm. Mutamaded (2 tips) is progressive, but from lowly ranks. Al Destoor, Alexander M (6 tips) and Bahama Moon (4 tips) have all won over the same distance at Chester. My pin has landed on Alexander M** with the classy combination of Mark Johnston and Franny Norton, a 3-y-o and four time winner with form on all ground.
4.15 Nursery 6f Class 2
This is the feature race of the day and it’s a bleeping nursery! First things first – Richard Fahey’s Cameo Star is a non-runner so we’re down to 11 runners as matters stand. Poor Collingham Park (1 tip) is a gelding at the age of two so an early view has been taken about his prospects! 2-y-o geldings can run well but he’s currently 33/1, albeit the Timeform top-rated, therefore maybe worth a small interest. I’m dismissing both of Marwan’s horses, Gabrials Centurion and Gabrial The Devil because they don’t have good enough form.
I don’t like Han Solo Burger (non-runner) and June Dog (both dreadful names) and Lady Anjorica has performed poorly on soft ground. Shania Says (non-runner) is drawn 11 and seems to prefer all-weather tracks. This boils down to Zap (3 tips) and Ginbar* (7/2 and 4 tips) and I’m inclined towards the latter, with good form, having won last time out earlier this month. However the draw (9) is a concern.
4.50 Maiden 7 1/2f Class 4
This race features, on official ratings, the worst horse of the day in the shape of Just Heather, (OR34) and quite simply described by Timeform as being “of no account”. Fortunately, it also includes the bet of the day, Tamih**** (drawn 2 and all 13 tips), a progressive 3-y-o who is miles ahead of the field in my humble opinion. I hadn’t checked the odds before writing this and the current 4/9 is no surprise.
5.25 Fillies’ Handicap 1m 2f Class 4 (0-80)
These really are a rum lot. Marsh Pride (1 tip) appeals on the basis of a second to today’s runner Bahama Moon (3.40) last time out and form on heavy ground, but is drawn 9. Meccabah (no tips) is of interest, having been an €80,000 yearling, trained by Andrew Balding, form on good to soft, drawn 1, but clearly not having lived up to expectations. Persistence (drawn 2 and 2 tips), is trained by Ralph Beckett and has the potential to improve. I’m back with Richard Fahey for this one in the shape of 3-y-o Liquid Gold** (1 tip). She’s very well bred, has run only one below par race and might just defy her disadvantageous 10 draw. I have to mention that Caravela, who I don’t fancy, has 6 tips.
5.55 Handicap 1m 6f and a bit Class 4 (0-85)
Marwan Koukash has two in these (you might be forgiven for thinking that he’s determined to have a winner today) but we can’t have either Angel Gabrial (1 tip) or Gabrial’s Star (1 tip) (notwithstanding the 1 draw). Kajaki** (7/2 and 4 tips) is a course and distance winner and broke a run of four seconds in doing so last time out. The 6 draw is not too bad in a field of 12 and will do for me. Brandon Castle (current favourite at 2/1) has 5 tips.
2.30 3 Gabrial The Saint (9/4)
3.05 4 Dark Devil (4/1)
3.40 4 Alexander M (4/1)
4.15 4 Ginbar (7/2)
4.50 3 Tamih (4/9)
5.25 9 Liquid Gold (5/1)
5.55 1 Kajaki (7/2)
Friday evening update
2.30 3 Gabrial The Saint (9/4) – now 3/1 and Ayutthaya is 10/11
3.05 4 Dark Devil (4/1) – now 3/1
3.40 4 Alexander M (4/1) – now 5/2 jt fav with Bahama Moon
4.15 4 Ginbar (7/2) – now 7/2 and Zap is the hot horse at 3/1. Han Solo Berger and Shania Says are additional non-runners
4.50 3 Tamih (4/9) – now 4/11 and all the tipsters appear to agree
5.25 9 Liquid Gold (5/1) – now 13/2 and Persistence is 7/4 fav
5.55 1 Kajaki (7/2) – now 3/1 and Brandon Castle is the 9/4 fav