1 Draw no comfort?
During a week where a draw at the Amex would have been enough for Liverpool supporters, Cheshire – home of more Premier League footballers than any other county – saw events on the Roodee dominated by talk of draws. Or not.
The first four home in Friday’s Chester Cup were berthed in stalls 16, 12, 7 and 17, and the events that unfolded were a reminder that the run of the race and the initiative of the jockeys is always more important than any perceived draw bias.
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) May 10, 2019
The race was unrecognisable from most renewals due to the rain-softened ground and the draw was rather turned on its head, with the two highest-berthed runners getting across to sit first and second, the winner Making Miracles effectively in full control of the race as soon as he got to the front.
His jockey Franny Norton – winning the race for the first time – was allowed to set a sensible pace in the conditions, the slowest winning time of the race since 1988.
2 Ballydoyle net closing in on Epsom Derby
We’re firmly into Epsom Trials season now, which is good news for Ballydoyle backers/accountants, as the money has rolled in over the last week thanks to stable victories in the Chester Vase and Dee Stakes at Chester, the Derby Trial at Lingfield, and the Derrinstown Stud Trial at Leopardstown.
In terms of bare Timeform ratings, Sir Dragonet achieved marginally the most when sweeping through from last place in a soundly-run Vase, less than two weeks after he belied market weakness to win a maiden.
His progress must’ve even taken connections by surprise because he’s not even entered in the Derby, but such a commanding trial win as this surely warrants a supplementation for Epsom for a renewal that, at this stage at least, looks fairly open.
But which Aidan O’Brien runner has achieved the most to date? Derrinstown winner Broome has run to a higher Timeform figure this year than any of Aidan O’Brien’s other Derby Trial winners (Japan still to come) and heads to Epsom with strong claims, especially with the step up to 1½m looking sure to show him in an even better light.
3 Red-letter day for Kirk
“It’s a dream to have a double at Ascot” said Sylvester Kirk after Salouen dominated a listed contest – his first win since his two-year-old days – and then Bubble And Squeak emerged victorious in a photo-finish to the mile handicap, so the Lambourn trainer must have reached Nirvana (the heavenly state of enlightenment rather than the 90’s rock band) when She Believes won the finale under Poppy Bridgwater.
The early part of this season was a slow one for the yard, but their horses have really picked up over the past month and Kirk’s horses are generally worth following between May and July.
But Ascot is not the only course where Kirk has a profitable record; the idiosyncratic venues of Brighton, Bath and Epsom, plus Pontefract (two winners from just five runners in the past five seasons) are all courses where Kirk’s horses return a better strike-rate than is usually the case.
One to back next time
Forest Ranger won the Huxley Stakes for the second year in a row, but he was best suited by a race that didn’t see favourite Addeybb to best effect.
The emphasis largely on speed around a sharp track didn’t play to Addeybb’s strengths, and he will be a much more potent force when back on a more conventional track with a stronger gallop to chase.
He failed to fire in the Lockinge last season, but that race, along with the Queen Anne Stakes and Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, could see him outrun big odds, especially if the ground was to come up soft.