Franny Norton’s Thursday Chester Chances Assessed
Horses for courses is a saying often banded around in this game, but how about jockeys for courses? Few ride the unique Chester track better than Franny Norton, and the Merseysider has a book of five interesting rides for Thursday’s card – which is the second day of the May Festival. We’ve assessed the chances of his mounts below.
Value Theory (2.05, Deepbridge Handicap)
Franny Norton takes the ride on topweight VALUE THEORY in this extended 7f handicap, a horse who runs in the Dr Jim Walker silks famously carried to victory about Subjectivist in last year’s Gold Cup.
Value Theory was a Newmarket novice winner last season before being pitched into Group races back at HQ and at Goodwood, where she finished third and sixth respectively.
Value Theory was dropped into handicap company for her seasonal reappearance at Musselburgh last month, but that failed to spark an improvement in form, with the daughter of Gleneagles only mustering a distant sixth.
Today’s race looks tougher, and on what she’s shown up to now a rating of 95 could be on the high side, so for all that stall 4 is in her favour others are preferred.
Thunderous (3.10, tote.co.uk Proud To Support Chester Racecourse Ormonde Stakes)
The Group 3 Ormonde Stakes is the feature at Chester on Thursday and Franny Norton takes the ride on THUNDEROUS here, a former Dante winner.
The career trajectory has gone somewhat south for Thunderous after that victory, but he did perform with credit when fourth in the Hardwicke Stakes last June (first-time blinkers), and was making his first start since when down the field at Newbury last month.
The headgear was left off that day but returns here, whilst the rain that hit Chester yesterday will be of benefit to Thunderous. Expect Franny Norton to be positive aboard this gelding, so for all that market leader Albaflora is expected to prove tough to stop if, at her best, it would be no shock to see Thunderous put up a bold showing.
Fairmac (3.40, Boodles Raindance Handicap)
Franny Norton gets aboard the somewhat consistent FAIRMAC for this extended 1m2f handicap.
This Middleham Park owned gelding has a modest career strike rate of 3-23, but he’s managed a top-three finish in 14 of those outings. His most recent victory coming in a four-runner handicap at Haydock last September.
Fairmac is now just a pound above that winning mark, and he shaped with promise when third on seasonal reappearance at Ripon last month. Fairmac failed to build on that showing, however, when a distant fifth at Epsom last time out. Franny Norton retains the partnership here, but Fairmac has a little to prove on the back of that last showing and others rate more solid betting propositions.
Explicit (4.15, British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Stakes)
The horse that bookmakers expect will provide Franny Norton with his strongest chance of success at Chester on Thursday is EXPLICIT, who takes up an engagement in the 5f maiden.
This colt is from the first crop of Expert Eye, with his dam a Group 3 winning juvenile.
Explicit was sent off a 13/2 shot for a Musselburgh novice on debut last month, where he finished second to Karl Burke’s Miss Jungle Cat. He is entitled to have learnt plenty from that initial experience and RPRs suggest that he’s the one to beat, but it’s a slight concern that the form of that Musselburgh race has received a couple of knocks since, and whilst stall 6 isn’t awful it could have been kinder.
Trojan Horse (4.50, Roofing Consultants Group Handicap)
The last of Franny Norton’s five Chester rides on Thursday is TROJAN HORSE, who runs in the concluding 1m4f handicap.
This son of Ulysses was off the mark at the second attempt as a juvenile, scoring at Redcar in October, and he defied a penalty to land a Ripon novice on seasonal reappearance last month.
Trojan Horse steps into handicap company for the first time at Chester on Thursday and considering that all three of his runs to date have come on ground officially described as soft, the ease in surface will be to his benefit.
There should be more to come from Trojan Horse, but it’s difficult to argue that the handicapper has let him in lightly off an opening mark of 82, so it’s certainly required for him to be up to taking this.