Posted: Thu 9th May 2024

Final day of Chester’s May Festival preview and tips: £170,000 Chester Cup the highlight on day three

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

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Three days of racing at Chester’s May Festival comes to a conclusion on Friday with a bumper eight-race card – including the £170,000 Chester Cup.

The feature race of the day is off at 3.40 and a big field of 17 runners are set to head to the stalls, including last year’s winner of the Newmarket Cesarewitch who is among the favourites to bag another big prize.

First up though is the class two handicap over the seven furlong distance (1.30) where Dancing Magic can land an overdue first win having finished a useful sixth of 21 in the Newbury Spring Cup when last seen. Three-time course and distance winner Boardman holds claims at a track he relishes while Revic has gone even better at Chester, winning four times in his career and this race is one his trainer Richard Spencer may well have been aiming his runner for.

Race two of the afternoon (2.05) is a maiden stakes in class two over the 1m4f distance with a field of seven heading to post. Preference here is for Mr Hampstead, a $575,000 purchase as a son of super sire Galileo who looked handy when second on debut at Newcastle and fourth in a novice event at Newbury last time out. The main threat can come from another Galileo offspring, Ephesus, for the master trainer Aidan O’Brien and improvement is expected from a sixth on debut at Dundalk.

The third contest on the card (2.35) is a nine runner, class two handicap ran over 1m2f. Bolster can defy a 5lb rise in the weights to score for a second straight race, having made a successful return to action at Pontefract on April 22 having also won twice in novice company. City Streak was successful at this meeting last year over the same distance and enters equations as does Botanical, a low-mileage four-year-old who completely wallopped the handicapper when winning easily at Hamilton last time around.

The midway point of the day three card is reached at 3.05 with the £130,000 Huxley Stakes, a Group 2 contest. Trainer Sir Michael Stoute is bidding for a record-extending eighth success in this race and has a live chance with Passenger, fourth in the Dante at York but flopped in the Epsom Derby having found the turnaround too quick.

Royal Rhyme, trained by Karl Burke, bolted up in a Glorious Goodwood handicap last Summer, took a Listed race at Ayr in September and was far from disgraced when fifth in the Group 1 Champion Stakes at Ascot. Israr won a Group 2 last July and returned to form earlier this season with a second and third so also enters calculations.

The feature race of the day – and perhaps the week – is the Chester Cup at 3.40 and a big field of 17 are set to head to the stalls. Irish trainer Emmett Mullins is making a name for himself as a big-field handicap specialist and he has The Shunter, last year’s Cesarewitch winner, entered at Chester following a fifth over hurdles at Punchestown to blow the cobwebs off in November. Trainer Andrew Balding has a couple of handy chances with Aztec Empire – second in a York handicap last year – and Grand Providence, a three-time winner in 2023.

Magellan Strait, a winner of the Irish Cesarwtich at the Curragh last season, is also among the fancies in what is a belting renewal of the Chester Cup which has a chunky £86,632 on offer to the winner.

Race six (4.15) is a bit after the Lord Mayor’s Show but nonetheless, it’s a competitive big field handicap once again with 17 runners tackling the 2m2f Chester Plate. Preference here is for Prince Alex, who landed a career best when scoring in a nine-runner handicap 21 days ago and can defy a 3lb hike in the weights here. Baez, who won four times last year, can provide the main danger having won at Chester last year.

The 1m4f apprentice handicap is the penultimate race on the card (4.50) and Order Of Malta gets the nod for trainer Hugo Palmer, who has been dropped 2lb in the weights and can make that count here.

Finally, the Chester May Festival comes to a close with another apprentice handicap (5.23) and it looks likely to be a shootout between Polar Princess, who got off the mark at Newcastle having placed on four previous starts, and Giselles Defence who struck at Nottingham nine days ago, with preference slightly towards Polar Princess to land the finale.

Chester selections – Friday (via Grosvenor Sport)

1.30 – Dancing Magic

2.05 – Mr Hampstead

2.35 – Bolster

3.05 – Royal Rhyme

3.40 – The Shunter

4.15 – Baez

4.50 – Order Of Malta

5.23 – Polar Princess

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