Guide to Friday's Chester Cup as Boodles May Meeting comes to an exciting close
By Andy Charles
Last Updated: 12/05/18 7:19am
Friday sees 17 runners go to post for the highlight of the 2018 Boodles May Festival, the historic 188Bet Chester Cup.
The race was first run as the Tradesmen's Cup almost two centuries ago in 1824 and has been known as the Chester Cup since 1884.
National Hunt great Sea Pigeon is among the former winners round the Roodee while, more recently, Trip To Paris won at Chester before going on to Gold Cup glory at Royal Ascot later in the summer.
Is there another Royal Ascot winner in this year's field? Read on for all the details and our fancies…
1 NAKEETA (Callum Rodriguez). Form: 02415-
Top weight for a reason, having finished fifth in the Melbourne Cup in his most recent run and winning York's historic Ebor before that. If he's ready to fire first time out in 2018 he has to be in calculations. Second in this race in 2016 off a stone less but has improved plenty since without winning.
2 PRINCE OF ARRAN (Stevie Donohoe). Form: 5-2188
Ran three very good races (and one stinker) in Meydan over the winter, but remains only a one-time winner on turf and is yet to have a go around Chester.
3 TIME TO STUDY (Franny Norton). Form: 101-22
Improved a stone in a busy three-year-old campaign but continues to rise up the weights and this might be his toughest task so far, in handicap company at least. Every chance he is up to it and has a Chester specialist in the saddle.
4 SHADOW SADNESS (Paul Hanagan), Form: 390-21
Having his first run since arriving from Germany, where his most recent run was an impressive win in a very low-grade contest. Has run in graded company before but his handicap mark looks a very tough one.
5 SAIGON CITY (Ger O'Neill). Form: 196-19
Good winner at Doncaster on his seasonal debut, but the rise in trip and weights seemed to account for him in a Listed race at Nottingham last month. Has won over two miles but might prove better over a shorter trip.
6 MAGIC CIRCLE (Fran Berry). Form: 57150-
Ran very well in fifth behind Montaly 12 months ago but was well beaten by Nakeeta at York later in the summer. Comes here on his first run for trainer Ian Williams after being bought by Marwan Koukash, who loves having a winner around the Roodee. Has a favourite's chance.
7 FUN MAC (Oisin Murphy). Form: 41909-
Another contender to have run well in last year's race, finishing best of the returnees in third. Better drawn this year but this seven-year-old gets no respite from the handicapper and might be fighting for a place again.
8 MY REWARD (David Allan). Form: 2143-3
Consistent performer who looks sure to run a big race if he has come on a little for his seasonal debut. Drawn perfectly in one and likes to front-run, so bound to give backers plenty to cheer on, and he is a Chester winner from last year as well. A lot to like about him but stamina could be the one question mark.
9 WHO DARES WINS (Ryan Moore). Form: 43010-
Fourth in last year's race when he was finishing as fast as the likes of Nakeeta and Magic Circle. Not well drawn, but would most likely have been held up anyway, and has been running well over hurdles to keep him fresh. Has benefit of top jockey but will need some breaks if coming from the back again.
10 VENT DE FORCE (Phil Dennis). Form: /427-0
Did run well when a close second to then stable-companion Fun Mac in France last summer. Has moved from Hughie Morrison since and his debut for new yard was a disappointment, despite him being a big outsider in a Nottingham Listed race.
11 STARGAZER (Kevin Stott). Form: 135/22
Disqualified after winning at Newcastle last time out but needs to step up on his best form to play a part in the finish here, despite being towards the head of the market. First time at Chester and this will be the longest trip he has attempted.
12 WATERSMEET (Joe Fanning). Form: 3-1113
Would be much shorter for this race if it was an all-weather contest, having won 11 of his 22 races in that sphere but only two of 21 on turf. Did run well in sixth here 12 months ago and does run off an even lower rating, but he will face competition for the lead.
13 GRANDEE (Daniel Tudhope). Form: 9367-2
First run for David O'Meara was decent enough at Ripon but not the level of form needed to win this race on his first try at so far. Concerning he didn't appear to last home over 14 furlongs at Down Royal last summer.
14 CAYIRLI (Shane Kelly). Form: 9084/1
Won the Queens Prize at 50/1 last time out on Kempton's all-weather surface. That didn't appear to be a fluke as he travelled very well throughout and beat some decent yardsticks. Looks over-priced but has the very worst of the draw.
15 DUBAWI FIFTY (Silvestre De Sousa). Form: 14-113
Continued his progress with two wins on the all-weather this winter but is now nearly a stone higher than his last turf win and this might be tougher than the Cesarewitch he finished fourth in last season.
16 SILVER CONCORDE (Graham Lee). Form: 308/3-
Returns to the flat for the first time since last summer, but he's been busy over hurdles and has won three times in that sphere since. Was third in the 2016 Chester Cup off a slightly higher mark but tough to say whether he is still up to this class on the level.
17 JUKEBOX JIVE (John Egan). Form: 914-44
Improved significantly last summer and also won his first hurdles contest in November, but was could only hit the frame in a lower-grade Newbury handicap last month and might not have the class for this.
This could be quite frantic early on with likely front-runners drawn one and two, and we fancy one of them - MY REWARD - to go all the way and claim victory for Tim Easterby. He has run well on both his tries round Chester and if staying the extra couple of furlongs should be bang there. Magic Circle looks plotted up to run well for Marwan Koukash, but his price as likely favourite already reflects that, while Cayirli should out-run his odds, which would have been much shorter had he been better drawn. Classy top-weight Nakeeta should also run well if he is sharp enough for his seasonal debut.
1 MY REWARD
2 Magic Circle