The flat racing spotlight heads towards one of the most picturesque racecourses in the UK this week, as Chester hosts the 4 day Chester Cup Meeting culminating with the 2 mile+ handicap feature race on the Friday: The Sportpesa Chester Cup.
It’s been a wide open contest in recent years with just two favourites obliging since 2000. Therefore, it makes for an intriguing betting heat. Ante post favourite Austrian School leads the market but an alternative engagement at York may be on the cards.
We’ll assess his chances along with picking out four other good outsiders each way chances. The SP of the winner in the last 20 years has been around 10-14/1 on average so we’ll concentrate on this price range.
Trainer Mark Johnston’s four year old strongly comes into the reckoning after a highly impressive victory at Musselburgh at the end of last month in the valuable Queen’s Cup Stakes. Taking up the running from 2 furlongs out, he skipped clear to register a 6 length win.
Consequently, the handicapper hasn’t quite caught up with him and he remains at a winnable rating at 114. Hence he has seen some support in the ante post exchanges (currently 11/2 best with Coral and Betfred). The big question mark surrounding him is his optimum distance.
His trainer has no doubts he will stay the extended 2 miles 2 furlongs trip at Chester but suggests his speed might suit the Betway Yorkshire Cup over 1 mile 6 furlongs at York on 15th May.
Therefore, despite his tempting handicap status, Austrian School should be treated with caution and punters should await a more firm decision.
WHO DARES WINS
National Hunt trainers sometimes treat the flat season as a sideshow although in Alan King’s case it has become a more integral part of his campaign, especially in recent seasons. Who Dares Wins returns to this race again where he was third last year and looks set to take a big part in this year’s renewal after a decent third in a recent Newbury handicap.
The trainer in a recent interview stated that we possibly haven’t seen the best of Who Dares Wins as yet. Best priced 10/1 (William Hill, Ladbrokes).
This Mark Johnston second string to Austrian School has been the subject of significant ante post support lately having been backed from 16’s into best price 12/1 (Ladbrokes, Coral). He stayed on impressively in a recent 2 mile handicap at Ripon where he was giving weight all round to his rivals.
With his stable mate Austrian School looking doubtful for this contest, this may be the Mark Johnston entry to latch onto with further improvement expected. Can act on soft or fast going.
This Willie Mullins trained 6 year old is second string to his Cesarewitch winner Low Sun. The Newmarket winner is possibly carrying a little too much weight for this contest and Whiskey Sour makes much more betting appeal at 14/1 (William Hill, Betfair). He’s had a couple of decent runs over hurdles recently including a creditable fourth in the County Hurdle at The Cheltenham Festival in March.
He’s one of these horses who have bits and pieces of form down the years at tracks like Ascot and Newmarket who with a little improvement may figure here at a big price.
Trainer Ian Williams has a fairly respectable record in this race having saddled a couple of winners in the last ten years including last year’s winner Magic Circle. The afore-mentioned will not be coming back although Shabeeb from the same stable looks a worthy proposition.
He’s held some decent form over 1m 4 furlongs-1 mile 6 and this extension of distance should not pose too much of an inconvenience. The lack of a recent run is a slight concern but the trainer’s record in this race is too good to ignore. Best priced 8/1 with Betfair and Bet Victor.
The favourite, Austrian School, should be avoided at all costs presently until we know the horse’s final destination. I really like the look of Who Dares Wins trained by Alan King who stayed on well last year in the same race for a good third and looks like he may improve further this year especially as this year’s renewal doesn’t look too strong in the quality department.
WHO DARES WINS e/w 10/1 (William Hill, Ladbrokes)