Having ridden at Chelmsford on Thursday evening, it’s an early start and a drive back to Chester on Friday for five rides on the final day of their meeting. It was a much better day at the office for me at Chester on Thursday with two winners from three rides. I was thrilled with Morando’s win in the Ormonde Stakes (pictured below) for Andrew (Balding) and the King Power Racing team. He absolutely relished the conditions and the extra rain that fell was certainly very much in his favour.
The changing ground was also a positive factor for Lincoln Park in the earlier handicap. As I mentioned in Thursday’s blog, the stall three draw was a big positive and I was able to get to the front leaving the stalls and he held on nicely to win it for trainer Mick Appleby.
Now for Friday.
DRAGONS TAIL (1.50pm Chester – Liverpool Gin Earl Grosvenor Handicap)
I start off in the opener aboard Dragons Tail for Tom Dascombe who has won at the track a couple of times before. This is also his first start back since wind surgery and being gelded, so hopefully that will spark a return to form. He is only 1lb higher than when just beaten a neck at this meeting 12 months ago, so I’m hopeful. If there is a negative, I suppose it is his draw as life won’t be easy breaking from stall 11 in a big field. Hopefully we can get a bit of luck though as the stable love having winners at this meeting.
SPUTNIK PLANUM (3.00pm Chester – Boodles Diamond Handicap)
Sputnik Planum hasn’t been seen on the racecourse for over a year, so has clearly had his problems. That said, the last time we saw him he was winning easily at Doncaster and he bids for the hat-trick here. Life will be a bit tougher as he is 7lbs higher in the weights and has that long absence to defy, but he is trained by a shrewd man who could easily have him spot on. He has a fair draw breaking from stall seven and it will be some training performance if he does get his head in front.
CLEONTE (3.35pm Chester – SportPesa Chester Cup)
The big race of the week is the Chester Cup and it’s a race I’d love to win. I ride Cleonte for Andrew Balding who prepped for this with a nice third in the Sagaro Stakes at Ascot last week. He is now 10lbs higher than when third in last season’s Cesarewitch, so this won’t be an easy task, but he seems to be improving and stays well. I’ve been saying all week that you need a low draw at Chester and you cannot get much lower than stall one! That can be a good and bad draw as if you don’t get out you can get shuffled back pretty quick. I guess the plan will be just to get away and try and hold a decent position not too far off the pace. If last week’s exertions haven’t left their mark, he should run a really decent race. As for the opposition, I was taken with the way Austrian School won the other day and he could well be ahead of the handicapper.
A MOMENTOFMADNESS (4.10pm Chester – White Oak UK Conditions Stakes)
The eye is immediately drawn to Kachy even off topweight as he looked in great form at Lingfield last time. He goes well at Chester and will take plenty of catching around here. I ride A Momentofmadness for Charlie Hills who ran better than his finishing position suggests last time. He is drawn better than the favourite in stall two and should go well from there.
NEVER SURRENDER (5.15pm Chester – SportPesa Chester Plate)
I finish the meeting with another ride for Charlie Hills aboard Never Surrender in the Chester Cup consolation race. He won his maiden at this meeting a couple of years ago, so the track importantly holds no fears. He also stays well so can go well if you can put a line through his disappointing reappearance on the all-weather. He is bound to strip fitter here for this and hopefully he can go well.
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