Chester Cup tips and runner-by-runner guide to Friday’s big handicap at 3.15pm

Last year's winner is among 15 hopefuls for the stamina-sapping contest over 2m2f.

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Falcon Eight must defy top weight if last year’s winner of the Chester Cup is to retain his crown.

Dermot Weld’s charge is back on the Flat after three runs over hurdles and faces 14 rivals in Friday’s Class 2 handicap at 3.15pm.

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The Grand Visir is bidding to go one better after placing second in last year’s renewal while Solent Gateway, Coltrane and Cleveland are also prominent in Paddy Power’s betting.

You’ll find our runner-by-runner guide and Chester Cup tips from Paddy’s pals below.

Chester Cup runners

Falcon Eight

Trainer: D. K. Weld Jockey: Frankie Dettori Age: 7 Weight: 9st 12lbs Draw: 6

Swept through under Dettori to land this last season from a 5 lb lower mark and has been in good form over hurdles this year. Bold bid likely.

***

The Grand Visir

Trainer: Ian Williams Jockey: Jim Crowley Age: 8 Weight: 9st 4lbs Draw: 14

On a long losing run (last win came at Royal Ascot in 2019) but ran a blinder behind Falcon Eight off 2 lb higher in this last year and surely primed for a big effort after a pipe-opener at Wolverhampton 4 weeks ago. Don’t dismiss.

***

Rajinsky

Trainer: Hugo Palmer Jockey: Harry Davies Age: 6 Weight: 9st 3lbs Draw: 1

Really likeable stayer who scored again in 2m Ripon handicap on return a fortnight ago. Leading 7 lb claimer booked and part of a strong hand for yard. Got to be feared under a penalty.

***

Reshoun

Trainer: Ian Williams Jockey: Alistair Rawlinson Age: 8 Weight: 9st 1lbs Draw: 3

Won the Ascot Stakes second time up last season. Better for return and given a chance by the handicapper but not shone in 2 previous visits to Chester.

***

Cleveland

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien Jockey: Ryan Moore Age: 4 Weight: 9st 0lbs Draw: 10

Won 9f Curragh maiden in the mud in November 2020 and having missed all of last year made an encouraging return at Naas. Stamina for this much longer trip uncertain, but bred to be better than a handicapper and got to be of interest for top connections.

***

Arcadian Sunrise

Trainer: John Queally Jockey: Jamie Spencer Age: 8 Weight: 9st 0lbs Draw: 5

Enjoyed a tremendous 2021, winning a big pot at the Galway Festival and York Ebor Meeting (under Spencer, beat Rajinsky). This mark should be exploitable and he’s a likely type if ready to roll.

***

Coltrane

Trainer: Andrew Balding Jockey: Rob Hornby Age: 5 Weight: 8st 12lbs Draw: 2

Off for a while after his tremendous 3-y-o campaign, when winning the Melrose at York, but has been shaping up well on AW and a big run back over this distance on turf could be on the way.

*****

It’s Good To Laugh

Trainer: Jennie Candlish Jockey: Connor Beasley Age: 5 Weight: 8st 11lbs Draw: 15

Successful twice over shorter here last year before a good first campaign over hurdles (won 3 novices). Should stay back on the level and he’s of interest.

***

Torcello

Trainer: Shaun Lycett Jockey: Franny Norton Age: 8 Weight: 8st 9lbs Draw: 13

Successful twice on the level last year but well held again over 2m when last seen and returns in a tough race with stamina to prove.

**

Morph Speed

Trainer: Richard John O’Brien Jockey: S. P. Davis Age: 6 Weight: 8st 8lbs Draw: 11

Progressed well for new yard last year, winning 4 handicaps. Might have needed his 2 runs back this term but stamina to prove up in class here.

**

Land Of Winter

Trainer: Rae Guest Jockey: George Rooke Age: 6 Weight: 8st 8lbs Draw: 4

Ended 2021 on a high with emphatic win in 2m class 4 Nottingham handicap. Hit with an 8 lb rise and this is much tougher on return.

***

Solo Saxophone

Trainer: Alex Hales Jockey: John Egan Age: 8 Weight: 8st 7lbs Draw: 16

Fairly useful performer under both codes, successful in thin 2m Newmarket handicap in the autumn. Well held over hurdles starting out for new trainer 9 weeks ago though and this is no easier.

**

Solent Gateway

Trainer: Hugo Palmer Jockey: Ben Curtis Age: 4 Weight: 8st 6lbs Draw: 7

Took a 2m handicap here in good style last summer and caught the eye on first run for Hugo Palmer at Epsom recently, finishing well. Same mark now and his first go over this sort of trip, which he leaves the impression he’ll relish. No surprise he’s been a big mover in the betting. Excellent chance.

****

Haliphon

Trainer: Ian Williams Jockey: Royston Ffrench Age: 5 Weight: 8st 5lbs Draw: 8

Dual French winner who has made an encouraging start for this yard in 2022, not seen to best effect behind Rajinsky at Ripon (2m) a fortnight ago. This is a whole different test but he could be capable of a bigger effort still.

***

Byron Flyer

Trainer: Ian Williams Jockey: Ben Sanderson Age: 11 Weight: 8st 3lbs Draw: 17

Lower in the weights than he’s been for a good while after a long losing run but would be a surprising winner of this on his return.

***

Chester Cup tips

Matt Chapman: I’m giving a squeak to the lightly raced French import HALIPHON for Ian Williams and Royston French. My selection tried two miles for the first time on his latest outing and he showed much more than a finishing position of fourth of six suggests. That looked like a race that would put him right for this and while it’s a huge question mark if he’s good enough for a race like this I’ll have a few quid eachway. Draw eight should be workable.

Timeform: COLTRANE has been shaping up well on AW, seemingly retaining all the ability that saw him impressively win the 2020 Melrose at York. He could have an even bigger effort in the locker over this sort of trip and gets the vote. Solent Gateway was an eye-catcher at Epsom on his return and looks dangerous. The unexposed Cleveland has to be respected for Ballydoyle, with last year’s 1-2 Falcon Eight and The Grand Visir both primed for big runs also.

Ruby Walsh: Falcon Eight won this last year from stall 10 and I’m not too concerned about his hurdling career. He’s still capable of running to a decent level on the Flat. He’s 5lbs higher than he was when winning last year though. Arcadian Sunrise is also of interest but this is likely a stepping stone to Ascot for him. The one I’ve landed on is CLEVELAND, who reappeared at Naas in March, finishing behind Layfayette, who has franked the form since. Cleveland hadn’t ran since November 2020 so it was an impressive return. It’s interesting that Aidan O’Brien has decided to step him up in trip too for the feature race of the meeting, the Chester Cup.

Jason Weaver: After his maiden win at the Curragh, CLEVELAND was touted as a Derby possible but some training problems have kept him off the track for a very long time. His return run was excellent considering he was ‘wrong’ from a ratings perspective and that is bound to have brought him on significantly. He’s a complete unknown over this trip, but I don’t need to tell you what sort of form the Aidan O’Brien team is in and he’s an intruiging runner in the featured Chester Cup where Paddy’s paying 5 places.

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