Chester May Festival Wednesday Tips
Chester is the main midweek attraction with the course playing host to three days of top-class action for their May Festival. In anticipation of what promises to be an unmissable card on the Roudee, our racing expert has produced tips through Wednesday’s Day 1 card. Also, check out today’s best bets – which are free to view on site now.
Ocean Cloud (1.30, ICM Stellar Sports Lily Agnes Conditions Stakes)
The 5f Lily Agnes kicks off Chester’s May Festival and it’s the top two in the market who look firmly the ones to focus on here.
Star Of Lady M has gained a couple of soft ground novice wins this season and warrants respect, but on this quicker surface, she may struggle to peg back the front running OCEAN CLOUD.
Gay Kelleway’s filly is also unbeaten in two starts to date, those victories coming on Kempton’s Polytrack surface. There’s no reason on breeding at least as to why she wouldn’t handle this switch to turf, whilst the Brocklesby form ties both Star Of Lady M together and suggests there’s very little to split the pair, so the current price discrepancy looks a little too great, and it’s Luke Morris’s mount therefore that rates the value play.
Navello (2.05, tote.co.uk Free Chester Placepot Every Day Handicap)
The booking of Ryan Moore on the speedy Live In The Dream catches the eye here and expect him to be ridden positively from stall 2. It’s worth noting that Adam West’s gelding is essentially 13lb higher than for his recent Sandown victory, however, with Moore replacing a 5lb claimer in the saddle, and that burden may take its toll late on.
Preference goes to NAVELLO, who represents recent 1000 Guineas winner George Boughey.
This gelding had some smart juvenile form to his name last season which included a third to subsequent Group 1 winner Ebro River.
After a respectable all-weather campaign, he disappointed on his return to turf at Thirsk last month, but the soft ground on a straight track would’ve been far from ideal for Navello, and back on a quicker surface on a sharper circuit he is expected to feel more at home.
A wide-margin winner of the Lily Agnes on this card 12 months ago, Navello’s only subsequent run on the Roudee came back in September when bumping into a subsequent Listed scorer in Flaming Rib (front two clear). There appears nothing of that rival’s quality in this field, so running off the same mark Navello can be taken to claim compensation.
Above The Curve (2.40, Weatherbys Bloodstock Pro Cheshire Oaks)
Whilst visually impressive the form of both Hello Jumeirah and Night Battle’s all-weather victories last month looks open to question, and both will need to break better on this track to avoid being left with too much to do.
In any case, if there’s potential for one of these to be well above average then it’s almost certainly Joseph O’Brien’s ABOVE THE CURVE.
A well-bred sister to the stable’s own Group-placed Thinking Of You, Above The Curve caught the eye when a staying-on third to the now 102-rated Villanova Queen on debut at Leopardstown last October.
Above The Curve showed the benefit of that run when justifying favouritism to land a 1m2f maiden back at Leopardstown last month, finishing just under 3l clear of Thoughts Of June (who reopposes on the same terms here) despite idling a little once hitting the front. There should be plenty of improvement to come with that win under her belt, and going up in trip looks certain to suit, so with the stable currently enjoying a fine run of form, there appears plenty in Above The Curve’s favour.
Makinmedoit is a big price here but has shown signs of ability in her four starts to date and would be no forlorn hope to run into a place, for all that ratings suggest she has plenty to do.
Changingoftheguard (3.10, Boodles Chester Vase Stakes)
New London is expected to go off a warm favourite for this race on the back of a pair of 1m2f Newmarket victories, but the Godolphin colt has a very different challenge to overcome on this tight circuit and at the prices, he looks worth taking on with CHANGINGOFTHEGUARD.
This son of Galileo runs in the Westerberg silks and is the sole representative of Aidan O’Brien, who has landed six of the last eight renewals of the Chester Vase.
He failed to score in a trio of juvenile outings, still looking very much a work in progress, but a winter break appeared to have done him good when reappearing with a facile Dundalk win last month.
Changingoftheguard was merely pushed out there under hands and heels riding yet the time posted was by far the quickest on the card. There should be plenty of improvement to come from Changingoftheguard, particularly upped to this distance, and therefore he can be chanced to turn over the jolly.
Auditor (3.40, Deepbridge Handicap)
It will be interesting to see how Ever Given fares here on his first start under Hugo Palmer’s name, having looked mightily progressive at 2.
Whilst a mark of 97 is unlikely to prove beyond Ever Given, he is entitled to come on for this first start since October.
Pocket The Profit is up a further 4lb for his Newmarket defeat three weeks ago and would likely want the ground softer, whilst Golden Warrior must bounce back from a disappointing run last time out.
Preference goes to AUDITOR, who bumped into a pair of rivals now rated in the 90s when looking a slightly unlucky third in a Newbury novice last season. Auditor made very light work of a Windsor maiden subsequently, and he shaped with plenty of promise when runner-up to Live In The Dream (runs 2.05 here) in a Sandown handicap on seasonal reappearance twelve days ago.
That run strongly suggested that going back up to 6f would benefit Auditor, and his stable has sent out winners with their last two runners. Tom Marquand maintains the partnership with Auditor today, and whilst stall 9 could have been kinder, that is compensated by his price.
The better drawn Buckshaw Village wouldn’t be discounted here, with a tongue-tie (retained) bringing about improvement when a hampered fifth at Ripon last time out.
Honiton (4.15, Edinburgh Gin Maiden Stakes)
The Godolphin pair of Secret State and HONITON look firmly the ones to focus on here, with the latter slightly favoured for the Gosden’s, who sent out the winner of this event in both 2013 and 2014.
Frankie Dettori’s mount caught the eye when seventh in an often informative Nottingham maiden on debut last October, and he looked a good deal more clued up when third at Newbury last month.
Honiton wasn’t given an overly hard time there once it was clear the front two weren’t for catching, and it was a run that strongly suggested going up an additional two and a half furlongs will prove a major benefit to him.
The aforementioned Secret State can give the Wood Ditton form a boost with a big run here, albeit the greater race experience of Honiton can prove invaluable.
Animal Instinct (4.45, Stephen Wade Handicap)
Royal Ascot second Ffion would prove a class apart in this company if returning from a break in peak form, but there’s a significant question mark over that, and stall 11 does her no favours.
Smeaton’s Light still needs to prove that he wants this 7f trip, albeit the track will aid in that regard, whilst it’s worth mentioning that favourites are 0-9 in this in recent renewals.
It can pay to chance something at a price here, and whilst Chester specialist Franny Norton warrants respect aboard Gobi Sunset, especially with a low stall to his advantage, ANIMAL INSTINCT just looks a little overpriced here at around the 18/1 mark.
Ian Williams’ charge is a three-time all-weather winner who was making his turf debut when down the field at Newbury last month. That showing came in the ultra-competitive Spring Cup, however, and Animal Instinct should be better suited to this grade, with a sharp track also expected to be in his favour considering all three wins have been gained around a turn.
Animal Instinct was gelded and given wind surgery prior to that Newbury run, which has the potential to eke out some improvement, but even still, he’s currently only 3lb above his last winning mark and has respectable form figures of 3211266 over this 7f trip.