Chester and Market Rasen making up ITV coverage on Friday and I reckon I have found a few to put in a lucky 15 to try get the weekend off to a flyer.
Richard Hughes took BRENTFORD HOPE out of the Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster as the ground was unsuitably quick. It was the right thing to do as the rain has arrived at Chester and he’s also managed to book Ryan Moore to ride this son of Camelot. The draw in the only concern as he’s in stall nine, but he’s a hold-up horse anyway so should be able to travel in behind the leaders and then pounce late.
Andrew Balding’s Grove Ferry is the danger from stall three and the yard are flying.
Armory was fourth in last year’s Irish 2,000 Guineas and has good form on slow ground. He was second in the Cox Plate in Australia last October and could be better with a winter on his back.
SANGARIUS represents Sir Michael Stoute and Richard Kingscote and he is a Royal Ascot winner on soft ground when winning the Hampton Court Stakes in 2019. He has been lightly-raced since, but showed he retains plenty of ability when narrowly beating Bangkok at Lingfield in December.
He’s had a wind op since then, and I’m sure they believe that he can be better again this season. The trainer has been operating at a healthy strike rate of 25 per cent in recent weeks too.
Dermot Weld is a master of his craft having won the Melbourne Cup twice, Classics and countless other international prizes. It’s interesting that he targets the Chester Cup with this son of Galileo, FALCON EIGHT, who has been gelded since his last run in the UK, when winning a Listed race with Frankie Dettori on board at Sandown in 2019. It looks a well thought-out plan. Like a lot of the handicaps over jumps and last weekend’s Classics at Newmarket – the Chester Cup could be going to Ireland!
Of the home challengers, Not so Sleepy has been performing really well over jumps this winter and has to be respected. Alan King has won and been second in the consolation race – the Chester Plate – with Couer De Lion before.
His stablemate Who Dares Wins is another course winner who is fit from his start at Newcastle and was fourth and second in the Chester Cup in 2017 and 2019 respectively. Ryan Moore is an interesting booking for Cardano and has to be respected.
I was surprised that NEVILLE’S CROSS was qualified to run in this handicap steeplechase as he has not run over fences. He has run in one point-to-point (where he slipped up) when trained by Tom Lacey‘s wife Sophie, and his wins over hurdles last season at Uttoxeter and Hereford were very impressive. He is a smart performer and will be competitive off his handicap mark.
This could be the time to catch him.
Royal Village has to carry top weight of 12st 2lbs, but with Billy Garritty taking 3lbs off, it means that he is carrying 11st 13lbs. He loves Market Rasen and the step up to 3m will not be a problem. He could be really competitive and will have a little saver each-way on him as well.
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