The first real opportunity of the Flat season for the boys and girls of the north-west to get their glad-rags on, Chester’s May Meeting is sandwiched between the Guineas weekend and York’s Dante Meeting like a tinned hotdog; it’s cheap, tasty and an artificial shade of tan.
But that only adds to the atmosphere on the Roodee and it’s easy to get carried away. Last time I went to Chester, I ended up falling down some stairs.
That’s another story, but here are five of the best bets to ensure that you end the week up, rather than down.
The Chester Cup (3.35pm) is the big betting race on Wednesday. Jumps trainers tend to do well in the race, however the Flat battalion look to hold the upper hand this year with Blakeney Point leading the charge.
Roger Charlton kept him busy in 2016, the horse winning three times (including over 2m here) during a progressive campaign. The drop in trip was against him on his final start at York but he improved plenty on his seasonal reappearance when winning at Kempton last time and he has leading claims from stall 1 here.
Leading ante-post fancy Sea of Heaven is drawn wider than the gap between Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker on their Brexit expectations, so looks opposable. Our top-rated Who Dares Wins considered a bigger danger.
Aidan O’Brien tends to mop up the Cheshire Oaks (2.25pm Wednesday) and Chester Vase (3.35pm Thursday) and he has a big chance of doing so again.
The Cheshire Oaks looks between Alluringly and Enable both on form and potential. It was hard not to be impressed by the way Alluringly did the job at Tipperary and she is taken to provide connections with a third consecutive win in this contest.
The Chester Vase looks more competitive, with Cunco setting a decent standard on form, but he lacks the scope of Venice Beach. He’s a half-brother to Arc winner Danedream and can land another blow for Tipperary maiden winners, at the chief expense of Count Octave whose close relation Treasure Beach won the Vase in 2011.
The John Gosden-trained Stradivarius can have punters playing bookmakers like a fiddle in the handicap at 4.05pm on Wednesday.
He took a big step forward when winning on his handicap debut at Beverley last month by six lengths and the step up to 1m 4f here will suit both on pedigree and run style.
Later in the week, Mutawatheb can land the handicap (3.00pm) that precedes the Chester Vase on Thursday. He won at Newbury and Doncaster last season and made a promising reappearance when two and a quarter lengths second to the re-opposing Mailshot at Chelmsford in March.
He was well backed, and arguably unfortunate not to finish closer on the day (short of room at a crucial stage) and Richard Hannon’s charge can progress again.